Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Aug. 28

August 28th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Aug. 28 at Ellis Park, Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Assiniboia Downs, including tickets and horses to play in a pair of carryovers at Ellis.

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.
  • 20x Points at Ellis Park & Horseshoe Indianapolis: Opt-in and receive 20x reward points on all wagers (excluding show wagers) at Ellis Park and Horseshoe Indianapolis on Aug. 28.

Picks and Plays

Ellis Park: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 2:13 p.m. ET)

#1 Call Again (5-2) debuted in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs and finished seventh after breaking slowly. Even in defeat, she earned a respectable 77 Brisnet Speed rating that stacks up well against Monday’s field.

As a daughter of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Arrogate out of Conference Call (previously the dam of stakes-winning route racers Seismic Wave and Teletext), Call Again is bred to shine while stretching out over one mile. Throw in the fact Call Again has posted a couple of bullet five-furlong workouts this month, and the Juddmonte homebred is worth betting to win at her morning line odds.


  • #1 Call Again (5-2)
  • #2 Flashy Lass (7-2)
  • #5 Heart Headed Woman (8-1)


  • $30 to win on #1 Call Again

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 5: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (7 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:34 p.m. ET)

#6 Stephanieswarrior (3-1) ran well over this course, distance, and class level on July 19, launching a sharp rally from off the pace to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths. Monday’s field didn’t come up particularly tough on paper, so a repeat of Stephanieswarrior’s July 19 effort should be good enough to take home top honors.

#5 Espere (4-1) and #7 Pretty Vegas (9-2) can battle for a place in the exacta.


  • #6 Stephanieswarrior (3-1)
  • #5 Espere (4-1)
  • #7 Pretty Vegas (9-2)


  • $20 to win on #6 Stephanieswarrior
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 5,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Assiniboia Downs: Race 3: Miss Sandy Dee S. (1 1/16 miles, 9:25 p.m. ET)

Five-time Assiniboia Downs stakes winner #1 Burrow Down (1-1) is the morning line favorite, but in the one-mile Escape Clause S. over this track three weeks ago, she finished third by six lengths against #1 Big Stretch (8-5). Big Stretch does fine work running long and may be capable of maintaining her advantage over Burrow Down in this 1 1/16-mile contest.

Let’s bet Big Stretch on top of Burrow Down in a cold exacta.


  • #1 Big Stretch (8-5)
  • #2 Burrow Down (1-1)
  • #5 Missyintomischief (4-1)


  • $20 Exacta: 1 with 2

Carryover Watch

Ellis Park: Race 1: $1,847 Super High 5 carryover (12:45 p.m. ET)

Monday is closing day at Ellis Park, and the first race on the card brings a $1,847 carryover in the $1 Super High 5.

Race 1 is a $50,000 maiden claimer taking place over 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt. Eight horses entered, though #4 Pinfire (5-1) is an early scratch, leaving seven runners and 2,520 possible outcomes to analyze.

The morning line favorite is #2 Rate Confirmation (5-2), and his credentials are solid. He misfired in a recent maiden special weight over the Ellis Park turf course, but had previously placed second and third in a pair of $50,000 maiden claimers at Ellis and Churchill Downs, earning back-to-back 77 Brisnet Speed ratings.

But while Rate Confirmation is a compelling choice to finish in the top three under hot jockey Gerardo Corrales, he isn’t guaranteed to win. #3 Forever Cool (3-1) finished ahead of Rate Confirmation when runner-up in the $50,000 maiden claimer at Churchill earlier this year, and last time out he posted an 81 Brisnet Speed rating when third in a $30,000 maiden claimer at Ellis Park. He’s fast enough on paper to vie for victory.

#5 Gilded Craken (6-1) can’t be counted out of the mix either. The three-year-old gelding suffered a bad start when finishing sixth in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park last month and is eligible to improve while dropping into a maiden claimer for the first time. The fact he breezed a bullet five furlongs in :59 4/5 on Aug. 18 at Ellis adds to the appeal.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • $1 Super High 5: 2,3,5 with 2,3,5 with 2,3,5 with 1,7,8 with 1,7,8 ($36)
  • $1 Super High 5: 2 with 3,5 with 1,7,8 with 3,5 with 1,7,8 ($12)
  • $1 Super High 5: 3,5 with 2 with 1,7,8 with 3,5 with 1,7,8 ($12)
    Total: $60

Ellis Park: Race 4: $773 Pick 6 mandatory payout (2:13 p.m. ET)

Since Monday is closing day at Ellis Park, the $773 carryover in the 20-cent Pick 6 is slated for a mandatory payout.

Looking for a single to build tickets around? Check out Race 9, a $30,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares traveling one mile on turf. The par winning Brisnet Speed rating is 75, a number #9 Okay Fine (5-2) has exceeded in each of her three grass starts.

Okay Fine has finished fourth in her last two starts against maiden special weight competition on the Kentucky circuit, earning Brisnet Speed ratings of 84 and 77. Trainer Brian Lynch wins at a lofty 31% rate with horses descending from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company, so dropping into a $30,000 maiden claimer might be all Okay Fine needs to get to the winner’s circle.

Good luck!