Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Oct. 23, 2023

October 23rd, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Oct. 23 at Mahoning Valley and Horseshoe Indianapolis, along with horses to play in carryovers at Finger Lakes and Presque Isle Downs.

Picks and Plays

Mahoning Valley: Race 1: Allowance (one mile, 12:55 p.m. ET)

#6 Kettle Kiss (4-1) enters off three straight wins for high-percentage trainer Benny Feliciano, including a victory in the Miss Southern Ohio S. racing 1 1/16 miles on turf last month. Switching to dirt shouldn’t be an issue; she's 4-for-7 on dirt and posted a career-best 82 Brisnet Speed rating when taking a $25,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs on dirt two starts back. It helps that Feliciano wins at a 26% rate with horses transitioning from turf to dirt.

Let’s bet Kettle Kiss to win and single her to start a double wager.


  • #6 Kettle Kiss (4-1)
  • #7 Save the Flag (3-1)
  • #1 Lofty Cowtown (6-1)


  • $20 to win on #6 Kettle Kiss
  • $10 Double: 6 with 6
    Total: $30

Mahoning Valley: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs, 1:23 p.m. ET)

#6 El Bambino (7-2) finished third in his debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs against maiden special weight competition at Thistledown, then improved second-time out to finish second over the same track, distance, and class level. Those fine tries yielded Brisnet Speed ratings of 74 and 76, easily the two highest numbers belonging to any of the horses in Monday’s field.

If El Bambino’s morning line odds hold up, he’s worth betting to win, keying over #7 Mexitexafornia (5-2) in the exacta, and singling to conclude our double wager.


  • #6 El Bambino (7-2)
  • #7 Mexitexafornia (5-2)
  • #4 Mr. Blutarsky (6-1)


  • $20 to win on #6 El Bambino
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 7
    Total: $25

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 5:05 p.m. ET)

#10 Shiesty to Chase (15-1) debuted in a non-state-restricted maiden special weight racing one mile on turf at Horseshoe Indianapolis and didn’t show much, finishing ninth. But switching to dirt and dropping into a maiden special weight for Indiana-breds can trigger improvement, especially when you consider how trainer John Langemeier wins at a lofty 21% rate with second-time starters.

At 15-1, a win bet on Shiesty to Chase is in order. We’ll also bet him over logical favorite #7 Moped Mo (1-1) in a cold exacta.


  • #10 Shiesty to Chase (15-1)
  • #7 Moped Mo (1-1)
  • #8 Justhappytobehere (10-1)


  • $20 to win on #10 Shiesty to Chase
  • $10 Exacta: 10 with 7
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Finger Lakes: Race 3: $13,249 Pick 6 carryover (2:13 p.m. ET)

Not every Monday brings a five-figure, non-jackpot carryover, so when one pops up on the first day of the week it’s an enticing opportunity to chase a valuable prize pool.

That’s why we’re highlighting Monday’s Pick 6 at Finger Lakes. The $1 wager has tossed up a $13,249 non-jackpot carryover.

Planning to play along, but not sure where to begin? Check out Race 4, the second leg of the sequence. It’s a one-mile and 70-yard allowance for fillies and mares who have never won two races, and morning line favorite #6 Ms. Solveig (1-1) looks like a trustworthy single in this small six-horse field.

Ms. Solveig lost her first six starts competing against maiden special weight company at Saratoga, Gulfstream Park, Aqueduct, and Belmont Park, but she cracked the trifecta three times while posting Brisnet Speed ratings of 84, 77, 78, 81, 80, and 82. For the sake of comparison, none of her Monday rivals have posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 80.

The competition is easier at Finger Lakes, as Ms. Solveig discovered when she tackled a one-mile and 70-yard maiden special weight over this track on Sept. 12. Despite breaking slowly behind a pedestrian opening quarter-mile in :25.86, Ms. Solveig rallied to lead before the halfway point and roared clear down the homestretch to smash her opponents by 19 3/4 lengths, earning a career-best 85 Brisnet Speed rating.

Anything close to a repeat of her first Finger Lakes foray can send Ms. Solveig to the winner’s circle under hot jockey Katie Davis, who has gone 3-for-6 (50%) at Finger Lakes this meet.

Presque Isle Downs: Race 4: $887 Pick 5 carryover (4:21 p.m. ET)

There’s an $887 non-jackpot carryover available to chase in Monday’s 50-cent Late Pick 5 at Presque Isle Downs.

The feature event in the sequence is Race 7, the Mark McDermott S. for Pennsylvania-bred juveniles sprinting six furlongs on Tapeta. It’s a tricky race to handicap because far and away the two fastest entrants from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective—#5 Notice of Action (9-5) and #1 Going Up (5-2)—have run their best races on dirt.

Notice of Action and Going Up are both logical win threats in the Mark McDermott, but they’re not necessarily unbeatable on Tapeta. Pick 5 bettors might want to add in #9 Poker Partner (8-1) as a live longshot. Conditioned by Jason DaCosta (who is 3-for-4, 75% at Presque Isle this meet), Poker Partner wired his debut sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs over the Presque Isle Tapeta before faltering in a pair of stakes on dirt. Returning to Tapeta can potentially trigger a rebound under hot jockey Antonio Gallardo.

Good luck!