Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Sept. 28
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Sept. 28 at Presque Isle Downs, Delaware Park, and Churchill Downs, along with horses to single in the mandatory-payout $390,577 Pick 5 carryover at Assiniboia Downs.
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in eligible races at Happy Valley (Hong Kong).
Picks and Plays
Presque Isle Downs: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs on Tapeta, 3:18 p.m. ET)
#4 Schiffhauer Strong (8-5) has finished second in his first three starts over this track and class level, so the son of Palace Malice looms as a key contender again. But can he develop the winning spark he needs to move forward and visit the winner’s circle?
Perhaps the first-time starter #5 Souper Blessing (8-1) can relegate Schiffhauer Strong to another runner-up finish. Souper Blessing is conditioned by hot trainer Michael Trombetta, whose 25% win rate at Presque Isle this year includes a 1-for-1 record with debuting juveniles.
Jockey Willie Martinez has gone 4-for-8 (50%) teaming up with Trombetta over the last two months, so let’s bet Souper Blessing to win and key him over Schiffhauer Strong in a cold exacta.
- $15 to win on #5 Souper Blessing
- $15 Exacta: 5 with 4
Delaware Park: Race 7: Small Wonder S. (six furlongs, 3:30 p.m. ET)
#1 Bound by Destiny (3-1) is undefeated in three starts at Delaware Park, including a 5 3/4-length romp in the 5 1/2-furlong Blue Hen S. last month. Conditioned by hot trainer Anthony Pecoraro (a 34% winner at Delaware this meet), Bound by Destiny owns the three highest Brisnet Speed ratings in the Small Wonder field and should be tough to catch under jockey Jeremy Rose, a 56% winner teaming up with Pecoraro over the last two months.
Sharp Delaware Park maiden winner #3 Chickieness (3-1) completed the exacta in the Blue Hen and can do the same in the Small Wonder.
- $25 Exacta: 1 with 3
Churchill Downs: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 1:43 p.m. ET)
#1 Princely (9-5) gained some ground down the homestretch of her Sept. 15 debut over this track and distance, ultimately finishing sixth (in a field of 12) while beaten 4 1/2 lengths.
Horses trained by Kenny McPeek typically move forward in their second race, winning 17% of the time, and the fact Princely is picking up jockey Brian Hernandez (a 21% winner teaming up with McPeek over the last two months) is a positive sign.
Let’s bet Princely to win and play him over stablemate #3 Let Me Love You (3-1) and #2 Wicked Secret (7-2) in the exacta.
- $20 to win on #1 Princely
- $5 Exacta: 1 with 2,3 ($10)
Assiniboia Downs, Race 3: $390,577 Pick 5 mandatory payout (9:35 p.m. ET)
The final day of racing at the Assiniboia Downs meet brings the much-anticipated mandatory payout of a CAN$ 535,091 (US$ 390,577) Pick 5 jackpot carryover.
Care to win a share of the 20-cent wager? Then you’ll have to uncover the winning combination from within a tricky sequence of races. With 38 entries (averaging 7.6 per race) before scratches, there are 24,192 possible outcomes.
Fortunately, we’ve identified a pair of possible singles to build tickets around:
Race 3: $1,500 Claiming (five furlongs): #6 Tuffenoughtostart (8-5)
The four-year-old filly Tuffenoughtostart is versatile in terms of running style and enters this low-level claimer for fillies and mares in encouraging form. In two starts since being transferred to the care of trainer Tom Gardipy Jr., Tuffenoughtostart has finished second twice in $2,500 claiming sprints at Assiniboia Downs.
These efforts produced Brisnet Speed ratings of 64 and 70, which rank among the highest recent figures posted by any horse in Wednesday’s field. Jockey Antonio Whitehall has won at a 20% rate teaming up with Gardipy over the last two months, so Tuffenoughtostart has hot connections in her corner for good measure. She looks ready to kick off the Pick 5 with a winning performance as a short-priced single.
Race 7: $2,500 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs): #9 Bitethebulletbro (2-1)
The final leg of the Pick 5 features a formidable favorite in the form of Bitethebulletbro. Speed is a valuable weapon sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Assiniboia Downs, with pacesetters winning 39% of races over this distance. That’s good news for Bitethebulletbro, who has set the pace in eight of his last 10 starts.
Bitethebulletbro enters in strong form. On Aug. 30, he ran second in a $3,500 claimer sprinting six furlongs at Assiniboia. Then on Sept. 20, he finished third in a $3,500 claimer over 5 1/2 furlongs. These efforts produced improving Brisnet Speed ratings of 76 and 78 (the best recent ratings posted by any horse in Wednesday’s field), so a typical performance while dropping in class should send Bitethebulletbro to the winner’s circle.