Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of May 24
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, May 24 at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Presque Isle Downs, along with horses to single in the $1,953 Pick 6 carryover at Finger Lakes.
Picks and Plays
Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:03 p.m. ET)
#9 Whosforjustice (6-1) showed pacesetting speed in his debut last November, carving out the pace over this track, distance, and class level before staying on to finish second with a respectable 67 Brisnet Speed rating.
Whosforjustice again showed speed when returning from a long layoff earlier this month, dueling for command in a 5 1/2-furlong contest over this track and class level before fading to finish third behind a next-out winner. With only two starts under his belt, Whosforjustice still has upside for improvement, especially when you consider how trainer Kim Hammond wins at a solid 14% rate with horses running back for the second time following a layoff.
Our man @J_Keelerman's exploring the trainer stats found in @Brisnet's Ultimate Past Performances...— TwinSpires Racing 🏇 (@TwinSpires) February 2, 2022
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We’ll bet Whosforjustice to win, key him on top of #2 Leo’s Roar (5-1), #5 Secret Rendezvous (5-2), and #6 Running Smart (8-1) in the exacta, and single him to start a double wager.
- #9 Whosforjustice (6-1)
- #6 Running Smart (8-1)
- #2 Leo’s Roar (5-1)
- $12 to win on #9 Whosforjustice
- $4 Exacta: 9 with 2,5,6 ($12)
- $6 Double: 9 with 5
Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles on turf, 4:34 p.m. ET)
It’s possible #5 Lil Miss Moonlight (5-2) lacks a winning instinct; in each of her first four starts, she was in contention for victory at the furlong marker, only to settle for second place. On three occasions, she’s lost by less than one length.
But Lil Miss Moonlight has been competing in Florida and Kentucky, most recently missing by a head in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight over the Keeneland turf course. She figures to find the competition a bit easier at Horseshoe Indianapolis, setting the stage for a breakthrough victory.
We’ll bet Lil Miss Moonlight to win and key her over #10 Delphine (3-1) and #7 Timeless Elegance (5-1) in the exacta.
- #5 Lil Miss Moonlight (5-2)
- #10 Delphine (3-1)
- #7 Timeless Elegance (5-1)
- $16 to win on #5 Lil Miss Moonlight
- $7 Exacta: 5 with 7,10 ($14)
Presque Isle Downs: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on Tapeta, 5:15 p.m. ET)
Since 2021, trainer Michael Stidham has compiled a 2-for-9 (22%) record saddling first-time starters at Presque Isle Downs. That includes a 1-for-4 (25%) record with horses debuting in route races.
These stats bode well for Stidham’s first-time starter #4 Queen of the Dance (8-1). The three-year-old filly brings a long and encouraging work tab to her debut and is slated to be ridden by hot jockey Antonio Gallardo, who has gone 5-for-17 (29%) to start the Presque Isle meet.
While horses are the most important factor in handicapping any race, many bettors look toward jockey statistics to strengthen their opinions and separate top contenders.@J_Keelerman helps you understand rider stats 👇 https://t.co/asGyQ1e0YO— TwinSpires Racing 🏇 (@TwinSpires) October 20, 2021
At 8-1, Queen of the Dance is an enticing win play. We’ll also bet her over #1 Hard to Please (3-1) and #2 Dark Dahlia (4-1) in the exacta.
- #4 Queen of the Dance (8-1)
- #1 Hard to Please (3-1)
- #2 Dark Dahlia (4-1)
- $20 to win on #4 Queen of the Dance
- $5 Exacta: 4 with 1,2 ($10)
Finger Lakes: Race 3: $1,953 Pick 6 carryover (2:13 p.m. ET)
In the past, the Finger Lakes Pick 6 was a jackpot-style wager. But that has changed in 2023. The $1 wager now splits the daily pool plus any carryover among all winning bettors, which means you won’t need a unique winning ticket to nab a share of Wednesday’s $1,953 carryover.
We’ve analyzed the entries and identified a pair of singles worth building tickets around:
Race 6: $5,000 Claiming (six furlongs): #2 Run Casper Run (2-1)
Run Casper Run was in good form at the end of 2023, hitting the board in four consecutive sprints at Finger Lakes. After dominating a $5,000 claimer for non-winners of two races, Run Casper Run tackled a $5,000 claimer for non-winners of three races and rallied after a slow start to finish fourth by 1 3/4 lengths.
Run Casper Run has been freshened since November by trainer Chris Englehart, a 17% winner with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more. Englehart has been on fire at Finger Lakes this meet, going 9-for-24 (38%), and he’s enlisted similarly hot jockey John Davila Jr. to ride Run Casper Run. Davila has gone 11-for-33 (33%) this meet and 9-for-20 (45%) teaming up with Englehart over the last two months.
One of Run Casper Run’s key rivals in Wednesday’s contest is #3 Scorpion Dynasty (7-2), who ran well against tougher competition in New York and Pennsylvania last year. But the six-year-old gelding kicked off 2023 with a subpar performance at Finger Lakes, finishing eighth in an $11,000 claimer for non-winners of three races. Scorpion Dynasty is 0-for-5 at Finger Lakes, and his distant defeat to start the season makes him a risky play on Wednesday.
As a result, we view Run Casper Run as a logical Pick 6 single.
What is a single, and why are they valuable?— TwinSpires Racing 🏇 (@TwinSpires) August 7, 2021
That's a great question!
Let's ask @J_Keelerman ⬇️ https://t.co/WTuXqaYlAW
Race 7: Allowance (six furlongs): #3 Schiffhauer Strong (3-1)
Schiffhauer Strong has run strongly in two starts at Finger Lakes this year. After finishing second behind next-out allowance winner Dee’s Wiseguy in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight, Schiffhauer Strong stretched out over five furlongs and obliterated a similar maiden heat by 11 1/2 lengths.
That victory produced an 86 Brisnet Speed rating, tied for the highest number belonging to any horse in Wednesday’s field. With only two dirt races under his belt, Schiffhauer Strong still has upside for improvement, stamping the three-year-old colt as a formidable favorite and a compelling single.