Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Oct. 24, 2023

October 24th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Presque Isle Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis, along with a single for the $35,906 Pick 6 carryover at Finger Lakes.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Trifecta Tuesday: Receive a 15% bonus on trifecta winnings excluding stake amount; up to $25 per day.
  • Summerside 10x Points: Opt in and receive 10x reward points on all Summerside wagers (excluding show bets) on Tuesdays from Sept. 12 through Oct. 24.

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 2: $20,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 3:27 p.m. ET)

#2 Three Point Strut (6-1) debuted in a $40,000 maiden claimer on dirt at Delaware Park and finished last out of five. It wasn’t a noteworthy performance, but switching to Tapeta, dropping blinkers, and descending to the $20,000 maiden claiming level can trigger improvement. Trainer Jose Camejo wins with a 23% rate with horses removing blinkers and at a 33% rate with horses dropping multiple levels down the class ladder.

Throw in the fact Three Point Stud is picking up hot jockey Antonio Gallardo (a 24% winner at Presque Isle this meet), and a large win bet is warranted.


  • #2 Three Point Strut (6-1)
  • #3 Empty My Pouch (7-2)
  • #4 Baytown Bama Girl (2-1)


  • $30 to win on #2 Three Point Strut

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 5: $5,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile, 4:34 p.m. ET)

#8 Zipsy Rose Lee (7-2) has cracked the trifecta in her last four dirt starts, all against tougher competition than she’ll encounter on Tuesday. Two starts back, she ran second in a $15,000 maiden claimer racing one mile and 70 yards at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Dropping down to the $5,000 maiden claiming level can trigger a winning run under apprentice jockey Matilda Burnham (who rides with a seven-pound weight allowance), so we’ll bet Zipsy Rose Lee to win and single her to start a double wager.


  • #8 Zipsy Rose Lee (7-2)
  • #4 Explosive Skies (5-2)
  • #10 Lucky Linda W (6-1)


  • $20 to win on #8 Zipsy Rose Lee
  • $10 Double: 8 with 11
    Total: $30

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

#11 Benvolio (7-2) debuted in a deep one-mile maiden special weight on dirt at Ellis Park, finishing sixth in a field containing future Breeders’ Futurity (G1) top-four finishers Generous Tipper and Northern Flame.

Even in defeat, Benvolio posted a respectable 67 Brisnet Speed rating. High-percentage trainer Brad Cox wins at a 28% rate with second-time starters, so Benvolio is eligible to move forward while switching to turf and tackling (presumably) easier competition in his second start.

We’ll bet Benvolio to win and single him to conclude our double wager.


  • #11 Benvolio (7-2)
  • #4 Lucky Romance (5-2)
  • #5 Woodford Holler (12-1)


  • $20 to win on #11 Benvolio

Carryover Watch

Finger Lakes: Race 3: $35,906 Pick 6 carryover (2:13 p.m. ET)

The $1 Pick 6 at Finger Lakes has proven elusive in recent days. No one hit the wager on Oct. 16, triggering a $3,216 carryover. It went unsolved the next day as well, letting the carryover build to $7,432. Last Wednesday was the final day of the racing week at Finger Lakes, and once again the Pick 6 went unclaimed, raising the carryover to $13,249.

You’d have thought someone would hit the Pick 6 when racing resumed on Monday, but alas, the winning combination proved unfindable and the carryover grew to $35,906 for Tuesday’s card. Since it’s a non-jackpot prize pool up for grabs by anyone and everyone clever enough to assemble a winning ticket, you can bet a significant influx of fresh dollars will enter the pool on Tuesday.

If you’re planning to chase the carryover, you’d probably like a single to build tickets around. You’ll be glad to know there’s a suitable candidate in Race 3, the opening leg of the Pick 6. It’s an allowance for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on dirt, and since two of the six entrants are coupled in the betting, there are only five different betting interests to analyze. You could pick at random and have a 20% chance at catching the winner.

Of course, we can significantly increase our chances by singling #2 True Empress (8-5). The four-year-old filly has been on fire since being claimed by high-percentage trainer Michael Ferraro, a 29% winner at Finger Lakes this meet.

True Empress made her first start under Ferraro’s care in a six-furlong allowance at Finger Lakes, finishing second. Barely more than two weeks later she won a 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the same track and class level by 2 1/4 lengths, the first of four consecutive victories she’s recorded at Finger Lakes. Shifting into the New York-bred ranks, True Empress won a 5 1/2-furlong allowance by 3 1/4 lengths, a six-furlong $10,000 allowance optional claimer by 2 3/4 lengths, and a 5 1/2-furlong $15,000 allowance optional claimer by 2 1/2 lengths.

True Empress is tackling non-state-restricted competition on Tuesday, but that shouldn’t interrupt her win streak. Her last three Brisnet Speed ratings (89, 90, and 86) are the best recent numbers belonging to any horse in Tuesday’s field. Throw in the fact she’ll be ridden by Keiber Coa (who has gone 4-for-9, 44% teaming up with Ferraro over the last two months), and True Empress is a compelling single to start the Pick 6.

Good luck!