Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Aug. 21

August 21st, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Aug. 21 at Presque Isle Downs and Parx Racing, along with a 20-1 longshot to key on top in the $506 Super High 5 carryover at Louisiana Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Presque Isle Downs $2,000 Late Pick 5 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Presque Isle Downs to win your share of an additional $2,000 jackpot.

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 3:27 p.m. ET)

Trainer Kevin Rice doesn’t normally win with a lofty percentage of his first-time starters, but he’s been strong debuting two-year-olds at Presque Isle Downs this meet, picking up a win and two seconds from three starters.

Thus, we’ll back #2 A Rose for Tina (7-2) in this maiden sprint for juvenile fillies. She’s put together an encouraging work tab and is slated to be ridden by Addiel Ayala, a 24% winner teaming up with Rice over the last two months.

A win bet is in order, along with an exacta using #6 Chasing Spring (9-2) and #8 Maiden Lane (5-2) for second place.


  • #2 A Rose for Tina (7-2)
  • #6 Chasing Spring (9-2)
  • #8 Maiden Lane (5-2)


  • $20 to win on #2 A Rose for Tina
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 6,8 ($10)
    Total: $30

Parx Racing: Race 9: Banjo Picker Sprint S. (six furlongs, 4:36 p.m. ET)

#7 Twisted Ride (7-2) faltered against tougher competition in the John A. Nerud (G2) at Belmont Park last time out, fading to finish sixth. But two starts back, he finished second in Belmont’s Runhappy (G3), and three starts ago he beat Banjo Picker Sprint S. morning line favorites #6 Uncle Ernie (2-1) and #5 Beren (3-1) in the Page McKenney H. here at Parx.

The Page McKenney marked the culmination of a four-race win streak at Parx for Twisted Ride. Returning to this oval (and dropping in class out of two graded stakes) should put him in the win hunt for hot trainer Michael Moore, a 28% winner at Parx this year.

Let’s bet Twisted Ride to win and single him to start a double wager.


  • #7 Twisted Ride (7-2)
  • #5 Beren (3-1)
  • #6 Uncle Ernie (2-1)


  • $20 to win on #7 Twisted Ride
  • $10 Double: 7 with 6
    Total: $30

Parx Racing: Race 10: Whistle Pig S. (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:07 p.m. ET)

#6 Standpoint (4-1) is a first-time starter debuting in a stakes, but he’s put together a sharp work tab at Parx (highlighted by a bullet five furlongs from the starting gate in 1:00 3/5) and looks ready to challenge. Trainer Guadalupe Preciado is a 42% winner in non-graded stakes, and Preciado has gone 5-for-21 (24%) debuting juveniles at Parx since 2018, so there’s a lot to like about Standpoint’s chances.

We’ll take a shot betting Standpoint to win and singling him to conclude our double wager.


  • #6 Standpoint (4-1)
  • #10 I Can Do Magic (6-1)
  • #5 Poker Partner (3-1)


  • $20 to win on #6 Standpoint

Carryover Watch

Louisiana Downs: Race 7: $506 Super High 5 carryover (7:53 p.m. ET)

Do you have what it takes to select the top five finishers from a 12-horse field in Monday’s seventh race at Louisiana Downs? If so, you can win a share of the $506 carryover in the 50-cent Super High 5.

Race 7, the finale on Monday’s card, is an allowance for Louisiana-breds sprinting seven furlongs on dirt. There are 95,040 possible Super High 5 outcomes to analyze, and finding the winning combination among all those possibilities won’t be easy.

However, when you really dig into the past performances, it becomes apparent that the field isn’t overly stuffed with speed. One of the main pacesetting types, #8 Duke of Blue Ridge (15-1), is accustomed to leading route races with modest paces. When he cut back in distance for a seven-furlong $5,000 claimer at Evangeline Downs last time out, he rallied from midpack (three lengths off the pace) to win.

#5 I Don’t Venmo (3-1) is another runner who has shown speed in route races, but in his lone sprint, I Don’t Venmo never got within 7 1/2 lengths of the lead. He’ll encounter a sharper pace than usual in Monday’s contest and likely wind up farther back as a result.

All this is a way of saying longshot #9 Draft Choice (20-1) has a chance to steal this race on the front end. The four-year-old gelding has set the pace in four of his last five sprint starts and cracked the trifecta each of those four times, including when second in a $5,000 starter allowance for Louisiana-breds at Evangeline earlier this month.

On three occasions this year, Draft Choice has posted Brisnet Speed ratings in the 80-82 range. That’s significant because only one of his Monday rivals (the above-mentioned Duke of Blue Ridge) has posted a number higher than 82, and that was an 83.

In short, Draft Choice is a 20-1 longshot with a tactical advantage and a bevy of competitive Brisnet Speed ratings. What’s not to like? He’s worth keying on top at a big price in the Super High 5.

Good luck!