Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Sept. 21
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Sept. 21 at Delaware Park and Churchill Downs, along with a ticket for the $25,322 Pick 5 carryover at Charles Town.
Picks and Plays
Delaware Park: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles on turf, 3:00 p.m. ET)
#4 All About Me (7-2) warrants plenty of respect after finishing second in a 7 1/2-furlong maiden special weight over the Delaware Park turf course, beaten 2 1/4 lengths while pulling 11 lengths clear of the third-place finisher.
But #7 Leopardess (9-5) is a formidable challenger. The daughter of Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Bobby’s Kitten was last seen finishing second in a seven-furlong maiden sprint in Ireland. On Wednesday, Leopardess will make her first start for trainer Jonathan Thomas, who has compiled a stellar 6-for-8 (75%) record at Delaware this year.
Let’s box All About Me and Leopardess in a large exacta.
- $15 Exacta box: 4,7 ($30)
Churchill Downs: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 3:18 p.m. ET)
#5 Happy Is a Choice (10-1) showed some promise in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Ellis Park, rallying from midfield to finish third behind runaway winner Jace’s Road. The strength of this race was indicated when Jace’s Road returned to finish third in the Iroquois S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Trainer John Ortiz wins at a 25% rate with second-time starters, and Happy Is a Choice is adding blinkers for Wednesday’s race, so there are reasons to believe he can move forward and vie for victory at double-digit odds.
We’ll bet Happy Is a Choice to win and call it a day.
- $20 to win #5 Happy Is a Choice
Churchill Downs: Race 8: $125,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs, 4:22 p.m. ET)
#4 Kavod (5-2) hit the board in a trio of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races during the winter, but sprinting is probably his best ballgame. He won the six-furlong Advent S. at Oaklawn last December and recently returned from a break to finish second in a six-furlong $40,000 allowance optional claimer at Ellis Park, beaten 1 3/4 lengths by next-out winner Here Mi Song.
Kavod faced older rivals last time out, and he’s squaring off against fellow sophomores on Wednesday, suggesting he’ll have an easier time reaching the winners circle. It’s also encouraging to note Kavod will race with blinkers, just like he did in the Advent.
#2 Texas Red Hot (15-1) and #8 Hoist the Gold (2-1) are the two we’ll add for exacta purposes.
- $20 to win on #4 Kavod
- $7 Exacta: 4 with 8
- $3 Exacta: 4 with 2
Charles Town, Race 4: $25,322 Pick 5 carryover (8:25 p.m. ET)
The 50-cent Pick 5 at Charles Town features a low 12% takeout rate, and on Wednesday betting value will be further bolstered by a $25,322 carryover.
Let’s take a race-by-race look at the sequence, then assemble a ticket for $30:
Race 4: $10,000 Starter Optional Claiming (4 1/2 furlongs)
According to Brisnet statistics, there have been 404 races held over 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town since Jan. 12, and 60% have been won in gate-to-wire fashion. #3 Tiz the Reason (3-5) routinely sets the pace and enters off a blowout 6 1/4-length victory in a 4 1/2-furlong allowance at Charles Town, so we’ll make the four-year-old filly a single to start the Pick 5.
Race 5: $10,000 Claiming (4 1/2 furlongs)
#1 Little Miss Cat (9-5) has set the pace in each of her last seven starts and enters off a solid third in a $12,500 claimer sprinting five furlongs at Mountaineer. But since the speedy favorite has never run over the bullring oval at Charles Town, we’ll back her up with #7 Bet the Queen (5-2), who broke her maiden over this track and distance during the spring.
Race 6: $15,000 Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs)
#1 Felicias Castle (8-5) was beaten a neck over this track, distance, and class level on Aug. 27 and should be tough to beat while sticking to the same conditions for high-percentage trainer Kevin Patterson, who wins at a 42% rate in claiming races. But #3 Sugar Lips (9-2) finished just 1 1/4 lengths behind Felicias Castle when third with a troubled trip on Aug. 27; if she gets a clean run, she might turn the tables.
Race 7: Allowance (4 1/2 furlongs)
#3 Sayyestothelady (7-5) has tactical speed and enters off back-to-back victories traveling 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town. But she isn’t a standout from a Brisnet Speed ratings perspective; #1 Windsor’s Play (9-2), #2 Fifty Gray Shades (15-1), #4 Snowy Juba Cat (8-5), and #6 Castle Lights (6-1) have all run fast enough to challenge in this competitive heat.
Race 8: $5,000 Claiming (seven furlongs)
#7 Floating By (5-2) has finished second in three straight races over this track and class level, but can she find the winning formula on Wednesday? #5 Call Me Jelly Roll (2-1) is a viable alternative while dropping in class out of a Penn National allowance, and #4 Magnetique (3-1) has the speed to be a danger on the front end.
- 50-cent Pick 5: 3 with 1,7 with 1,3 with 1,2,3,4,6 with 4,5,7 ($30)