Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Oct. 30, 2023

October 30th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Oct. 30 at Mahoning Valley and Horseshoe Indianapolis, along with a horse to single in the $1,213 Pick 6 carryover at Finger Lakes.

Picks and Plays

Mahoning Valley: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 12:55 p.m. ET)

#3 Knicks Story (6-5) has hit the board in a trio of maiden special weights at Horseshoe Indianapolis, most recently returning from a one-year layoff to finish second in a six-furlong sprint on Oct. 16. That marked his first start under the care of Ben Colebrook, who wins at a lofty 21% rate with horses running for the second time under his care.

That stat suggests Knicks Story can move forward while shipping to Mahoning Valley. He enters off fast workouts at Keeneland (including a bullet five furlongs in :59 1/5), so we’re willing to key Knicks Story over #4 Loco (7-2) and #8 Quick Quick Whit (6-1) in the exacta.


  • #3 Knicks Story (6-5)
  • #4 Loco (7-2)
  • #8 Quick Quick Whit (6-1)


  • $15 Exacta: 3 with 4,8 ($30)

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 3:32 p.m. ET)

#2 Flyin Bessie (6-5) didn’t get off to the best start when returning from a lengthy layoff in an Oct. 5 maiden special weight sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Nevertheless, she recovered to duel through hot fractions of :21.82 and :45.28 before weakening in the final furlong to finish second by 3 1/4 lengths.

Even in defeat, Flyin Bessie earned a 77 Brisnet Speed rating, her eighth straight number in the 73-84 range. That’s the best slate of Brisnet Speed ratings belonging to any filly in this maiden sprint, so if Flyin Bessie gets a little better setup in her second start back from the layoff, she can deliver a short-priced victory.

We’ll single Flyin Bessie to start a double wager, then add a small exacta using longshot Kentucky shipper #5 Icicles (20-1) for second place.


  • #2 Flyin Bessie (6-5)
  • #5 Icicles (20-1)
  • #4 Empires Princess (6-1)


  • $15 Double: 2 with 5
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 5
    Total: $25

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 4: Allowance (5 1/2 furlongs, 4:03 p.m. ET)

#5 Edistrudis (3-1) completely misfired in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance over the tricky Kentucky Downs turf course last month, finishing 10th. But two starts back she ran sixth in a quality renewal of the seven-furlong Debutante S. on dirt at Ellis Park, which followed a comfortable two-length maiden special weight victory dashing 5 1/2 furlongs over the Ellis main track.

Returning to dirt at Horseshoe Indianapolis can help Edistrudis rebound. She’s the fastest filly in this allowance field from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, so we’ll bet her to win and single her to conclude our double wager.


  • #5 Edistrudis (3-1)
  • #4 Illusive Star (5-2)
  • #2 Life’s Joy (8-5)


  • $25 to win on #5 Edistrudis

Carryover Watch

Finger Lakes: Race 3: $1,213 Pick 6 carryover (2:13 p.m. ET)

The carryover for Monday’s $1 Pick 6 at Finger Lakes isn’t quite as lucrative as the five-figure prize pools up for grabs a couple of times last week, but the $1,213 pot is still worth pursuing thanks to its non-jackpot nature.

Mathematically speaking, it doesn’t appear terribly difficult to hit. Thanks to a few coupled entries throughout the sequence, the Pick 6 contains only 44 betting interests (averaging about 7.3 per race) before scratches. It works out to 136,080 possible outcomes, a manageable number for a Pick 6.

Looking for a single to build tickets around? Check out Race 7, a $5,000 claimer for horses who haven’t won two races since Jan. 1. Nine of the 10 entrants in this 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprint have been competing with only occasional success in $5,000 claimers at Finger Lakes. The lone exception is #10 Digital Future (5-2), who is shaping up as a standout.

Digital Future has been competing on the New York Racing Association circuit. During the spring he rallied to win a $25,000 claimer sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct, earning a lofty 93 Brisnet Speed rating.

Digital Future’s form has slipped since leaving Aqueduct, but he wasn’t exactly disgraced in a $12,500 claimer sprinting seven furlongs at Saratoga last time out, finishing sixth by 7 1/4 lengths. Both the winner and the runner-up returned to win, so it’s safe to say Digital Future faced a decent field. Even in defeat he earned a respectable 84 Brisnet Speed rating.

Dropping into a $5,000 claimer at Finger Lakes should make Digital Future difficult to beat for trainer Raymond Handal, who has gone 1-for-2 (50%) at Finger Lakes this meet. Digital Future owns the best recent Brisnet Speed ratings of any horse in Monday’s field and has drawn favorably in post 10, given that horses breaking from posts 8 and wider have performed better than would be mathematically expected in 5 1/2-furlong sprints at Finger Lakes this meet.

In short, what’s not to like? Digital Future is a compelling Pick 6 single, and singling him in this 10-horse field slices the number of Pick 6 outcomes to consider from 136,080 down to 13,608. That sounds pretty nice.

Good luck!