Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Sept. 22
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Sept. 22 at Churchill Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis, along with horses to play in non-jackpot carryovers at Churchill and Los Alamitos.
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- Churchill Downs Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Churchill Downs.
- $3,000 Los Alamitos Leaderboard: Place $10+ win bets at Los Alamitos to climb a weekly leaderboard and earn your share of a $3,000 jackpot.
- $1,000 Hoosier Park Pick 4 Hit It and Split It: Hit the early Pick 4 at Hoosier Park on any Thursday from July 14 through Oct. 13 to win your share of a $1,000 weekly jackpot.
Picks and Plays
Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 3:43 p.m. ET)
#4 Breslau (6-1) didn’t show a lot in his debut sprinting six furlongs over this class level at Horseshoe Indianapolis, but trainer Rodolphe Brisset wins at a 21% rate with second-time starters (compared to 13% with debuting runners), so Breslau is eligible to move forward in his second try.
There are several other positive stats in Breslau’s corner. He’s adding blinkers, a 23% winning move for Brisset. He’s stretching out in distance for the first time, a 21% winning angle for Brisset. At Horseshoe Indianapolis this year, Brisset has compiled a stellar 44% win rate, and jockey Alex Achard has won at a 58% rate teaming up with Brisset over the last two months.
At 6-1, Breslau is worth betting to win and keying over logical favorites #8 Jolly Tommy (2-1) and #5 Grand Jury (3-1) in the exacta.
- $20 win: #4 Breslau
- $5 Exacta: 4 with 5, 8 ($10)
Churchill Downs: Race 1: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile, 5:00 p.m. ET)
#5 Goodbetterbest (4-1) showed a bit of tactical speed in her debut at Ellis Park before fading to finish eighth in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight.
Trainer Brad Cox wins at a 27% rate with second-time starters, a 30% rate with horses running long for the first time, and a 33% rate with horses dropping from maiden special weight into maiden claiming company, so the stats suggest Goodbetterbest will run much better on Thursday.
#1 Best Seller (8-5) and #2 Free Spirited (3-1) can battle for places in the exacta and trifecta.
- $15 win: #5 Goodbetterbest
- $5 Exacta: 5 with 1, 2 ($10)
- $2.50 Trifecta: 5 with 1, 2 with 1, 2 ($5)
Churchill Downs: Race 2: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile, 5:29 p.m. ET)
#4 Housed (3-1) showed some ability in his debut for a $50,000 maiden claiming tag racing one mile over the Ellis Park turf course. He ran steadily throughout and closed some ground late to finish third by 2 1/2 lengths.
Housed is trained by Brad Cox, who wins at a 32% rate with horses running long for the second time and at a 31% rate with horses transitioning from turf to dirt. Throw in the fact Housed is dropping down to the $30,000 maiden claiming level, and he’s a compelling choice to beat #5 Duplantis (9-2) and #7 Cambiaso (12-1) to the winner’s circle.
- $20 win: on #4 Housed
- $5 Exacta: 4 with 5, 7 ($10)
Los Alamitos, Race 3: $19,840 Pick 6 carryover (5:05 p.m. ET)
The racing week at Los Alamitos kicks off with an enticing $19,840 Pick 6 carryover up for grabs.
The minimum bet amount is $2, so playing the Pick 6 at Los Alamitos can be a pricey proposition. We’ll try to keep costs down by singling a pair of logical favorites across the six-race sequence.
Our first single comes in Race 4, a $50,000 maiden claimer taking place over six furlongs on dirt. #1 Encode (3-5) has finished fourth, fifth, and third in his first three starts against maiden special weight competition at Del Mar. His most recent effort produced an 86 Brisnet Speed rating, one of the highest figures in Thursday’s field.
Trainer Bob Baffert wins at a lofty 31% rate with horses transitioning from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company, so facing easier competition might be all Encode needs to break his maiden under hot jockey Juan Hernandez.
Our second single comes in Race 6, a six-furlong maiden special weight for California-bred two-year-old fillies. #5 Big Celebration (9-5) earned a respectable 71 Brisnet Speed rating (tied for the highest in Thursday’s field) when finishing a troubled fourth in her debut over this distance and class level at Del Mar.
Trainer Luis Mendez wins at an excellent 20% rate with second-time starters, so if Big Celebration gets a clean trip under hot jockey Edwin Maldonado (3-for-14, 21% to start the Los Alamitos meet), she can deliver victory as a short-priced single.
Churchill Downs, Race 8: $3,752 Super High 5 carryover (8:23 p.m. ET)
The Thursday card at Churchill Downs boasts a $3,752 carryover in the $1 Super High 5, which is available to play in Race 8, a challenging six-furlong maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies who brought a final bid of $50,000 or less at auction.
A huge field has turned out, and narrowing down the contenders is difficult. That said, we recommend betting #9 Closed Caption (5-1) on top at a bit of a price. She debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight over the Kentucky Downs turf course and made a nice move into contention before flattening out to finish sixth in a 12-horse field.
Closed Caption is trained by Kenny McPeek, whose juveniles often move forward second-time out, and her pedigree hints she’ll enjoy racing on dirt. Switching surfaces in her second start should produce a strong effort from Closed Caption.