Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Sept. 27, 2023

September 27th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Sept. 27 at Presque Isle Downs, Delaware Park, and Churchill Downs, along with tickets for the $2,706 Super High 5 carryover at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Hoosier Park $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any eligible race at Hoosier Park.
  • Hong Kong $50 Bonus: Receive a $50 bonus when you wager at least $500 in cumulative bets at Sha Tin (HK) and Happy Valley (HK) during six days of racing in September.
  • Churchill Downs $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races at Churchill Downs.

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 1: $20,000 Maiden Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 3:00 p.m. ET)

#3 Neon Deion (9-5) has started twice against maiden special weight competition at Hawthorne, finishing third in his debut on turf before switching to dirt and coming home fourth.

These efforts produced Brisnet Speed ratings of 67 and 69. Considering none of Neon Deion’s Wednesday rivals have posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 60, Neon Deion should be tough to beat while dropping down the class ladder for high-percentage trainer Larry Rivelli, who has gone 4-for-11 (36%) at Presque Isle Downs this meet.

#4 Cloud in the Wind (5-2) and #6 Empty My Pouch (3-1), two runners who have placed over this track, distance, and class level, can battle to complete the trifecta.


  • #3 Neon Deion (9-5)
  • #4 Cloud in the Wind (5-2)
  • #6 Empty My Pouch (3-1)


  • $15 Exacta: 3 with 4,6 ($30)

Delaware Park: Race 7: Allowance (six furlongs, 3:30 p.m. ET)

#8 Copper Tax (3-2) was tons the best in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance at Delaware Park last time out, vying for command before drawing off to dominate by eight lengths with a 92 Brisnet Speed rating. This followed a 4 1/2-length victory in a $50,000 maiden claimer sprinting five furlongs at Delaware.

Copper Tax looks ready to record a third straight victory for red-hot trainer Gary Capuano (a 32% winner at Delaware this meet), so let’s bet him over Laurel Park allowance optional claiming winner #3 Give It a Whirl (5-2) in a cold exacta.


  • #8 Copper Tax (3-2)
  • #3 Give It a Whirl (5-2)
  • #7 Yahoo Omar (12-1)


  • $25 Exacta: 8 with 3

Churchill Downs: Race 9: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:55 p.m. ET)

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for this type of race is 82, but only one of the experienced runners has posted a number higher than 75 (and that was only an 80), suggesting this maiden sprint for juvenile fillies is ripe for conquest by a first-time starter.

We’ll side with #8 Red Sun Dress (10-1), who has posted no fewer than five bullet workouts at Ellis Park, including half a mile from the starting gate in :48 2/5 last Friday. Trainer Jose Ortiz wins at a respectable 14% rate with first-time starters, and jockey Ricardo Santana has gone 2-for-7 (29%) teaming up with Ortiz over the last two months, so there’s a lot to like about Red Sun Dress.

At 10-1, a win bet on Red Sun Dress is in order. We’ll also bet her over fellow longshots #2 Standoutsensation (12-1) and #5 Honorable Mischief (15-1) in the exacta.


  • #8 Red Sun Dress (10-1)
  • #2 Standoutsensation (12-1)
  • #5 Honorable Mischief (15-1)


  • $22 to win on #8 Red Sun Dress
  • $4 Exacta: 8 with 2,5 ($8)
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 6: $2,706 Super High 5 carryover (5:05 p.m. ET)

The Wednesday card at Horseshoe Indianapolis features a $2,706 carryover in the “Grand High 5,” a non-jackpot Super High 5 wager featuring a 10-cent minimum bet amount. Since the minimum is one-tenth the $1 minimum found at many other tracks, constructing competitive tickets is a relatively inexpensive endeavor.

The prize pool is up for grabs in Race 6, a maiden special weight for Indiana-bred juveniles sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt. A dozen runners have been entered, but only eight have raced, and six of those bring uninspiring form to the table. The two fastest of the experienced runners are #10 Specialty Act (4-1) and #1 Pop the Cork (7-2), who were separated by a neck when finishing second and third in a race over this track, distance, and class level on Sept. 8.

The problem is, Specialty Act and Pop the Cork finished 11 lengths behind a runaway winner, and their performances didn’t come back very fast on the Brisnet Speed rating scale. They each received a 59, six points below the par winning number (66) for Wednesday’s conditions.

Specialty Act and Pop the Cork are logical contenders to finish in the top five (in fact, we’ll count on them to do so), but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them lose first prize to one of the first-time starters. Two unraced candidates are appealing: #2 Sub Chaser (15-1) and #7 Creek Valley (8-1).

Sub Chaser is trained by George Leonard III, who wins at a respectable 11% rate with horses debuting in maiden special weights. Sub Chaser worked a bullet five furlongs from the Horseshoe Indianapolis starting gate in 1:01 2/5 on Sept. 4 and benefits from a seven-pound weight allowance courtesy of apprentice jockey German Terraza.

As for Creek Valley, he’s conditioned by Michelle Elliott, a 14% winner with horses debuting in maiden special weights. Creek Valley clocked a bullet half-mile in :47 4/5 at Horseshoe Indianapolis last month and will be guided by Fernando De La Cruz, who has gone 4-for-9 (44%) teaming up with Elliott over the last two months.

Let’s bet Sub Chaser and Creek Valley on top in the Super High 5 and see if we can’t come up with the winning combination:

  • 10-cent Super High 5: 2,7 with 1,10 with 1,10 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 ($8)
  • 10-cent Super High 5: 2,7 with 1,10 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 with 1,10 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 ($8)
  • 10-cent Super High 5: 2,7 with 1,10 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 with 1,10 ($8)
  • 10-cent Super High 5: 2,7 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 with 1,10 with 1,10 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 ($8)
  • 10-cent Super High 5: 2,7 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 with 1,10 with 2,4,6,7,9,11 with 1,10 ($8)
    Total: $40

Good luck!