Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Aug. 7

August 7th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Aug. 7 at Presque Isle Downs, Hastings Racecourse, and Assiniboia Downs, along with a horse to single in the $7,632 Pick 6 carryover at Finger Lakes.

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.
  • Assiniboia Downs $1,000 Pick 4 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Pick 4 at Assiniboia Downs on any of three days (Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday) to earn your share of a $1,000 daily jackpot. Hit the Pick 4 all three days to split an additional $2,000 jackpot.
  • Assiniboia Downs $20 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $20) if your horse finishes second in any eligible race at Assiniboia Downs.

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 3:54 p.m. ET)

#5 Bloodhound (9-2) enters off a series of fast workouts at Presque Isle, including a bullet half-mile from the starting gate in :47 2/5. Trainer Ron Potts wins at a respectable 12% rate with first-time starters, and Bloodhound’s half-brother Theory won the Futurity (G3) at age two, so there are many reasons to believe Bloodhound can win his first start at a nice price.

We’ll bet Bloodhound to win and add an exacta using #4 Why Not Me (5-2) for second place.


  • #5 Bloodhound (9-2)
  • #4 Why Not Me (5-2)
  • #6 Express Star (10-1)


  • $20 to win on #5 Bloodhound
  • $10 Exacta: 5 with 4
    Total: $30

Hastings Racecourse: Race 1: British Columbia Cup Debutante S. (6 1/2 furlongs, 5:00 p.m. ET)

Only four horses are entered in this stakes sprint for two-year-old fillies, and none have previously visited the winner’s circle. In fact, two are unraced. That includes #4 Bakburner (8-1), a daughter of Bakken, the sire of a solid 17% winners from first-time starters. Bakburner is conditioned by hot trainer Edgar Mendoza (who strikes at a 21% rate with first-time starters), so her 8-1 morning line odds seem generous in this small field.

Let’s bet Bakburner to win and call it a day.


  • #4 Bakburner (8-1)
  • #1 Donna Wyn (6-5)
  • #2 Weekendindelmar (1-1)


  • $30 to win on #4 Bakburner

Assiniboia Downs: Race 7: Manitoba Derby (1 1/8 miles, 11:05 p.m. ET)

#1 Heroic Move (1-1) has run well against tough competition. In a $100,000 allowance optional claimer racing one mile at Churchill Downs, he led in midstretch before settling for third place behind next-out Curlin S. winner Scotland. Then in the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, Heroic Move fought gamely to finish third by half a length.

The latter performance earned a flashy 100 Brisnet Speed rating, easily the highest number belonging to any horse in the Manitoba Derby field. Let’s take advantage of the Assiniboia Downs $20 Money Back promotion and place a $20 win bet on Heroic Move, then key him on top of Kentucky raider #5 B Minor (4-1) in a cold exacta.


  • #1 Heroic Move (1-1)
  • #5 B Minor (4-1)
  • #10 Saxon Saga (10-1)


  • $20 to win on #1 Heroic Move
  • $20 Exacta: 1 with 5
    Total: $40

Carryover Watch

Finger Lakes: Race 3: $7,632 Pick 6 carryover (2:13 p.m. ET)

Finger Lakes is starting the new week on a high note with a $7,632 carryover up for grabs in the $1 Pick 6.

It’s an unusual sequence in terms of field sizes. The six races contain a total of 60 horses, averaging 10 per race. And there are 871,200 possible outcomes. But whereas five of the six races contain between 10 and 12 horses, Race 3—the opening leg of the Pick 6—drew only six horses. Bettors seeking a single to build tickets around will surely gravitate toward Race 3, since it’s mathematically the easiest spot to come up with a winning horse.

Race 3 is a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight for fillies and mares, and a couple of contenders appear to rank above the rest. Morning line favorite #4 Shoopthereitis (2-1) exits a runner-up finish in a one-mile and 70-yard contest over this class level on July 17, in which she rallied from 9 1/2 lengths off the pace to finish six lengths behind a runaway winner. Her reward was a 68 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest number belonging to any horse in Monday’s field.

But we actually prefer the chances of #1 Going Home Now (5-2), who finished second by a neck over this track, distance, and class level last autumn. On that occasion, Going Home Now ran into traffic, but nevertheless rallied gamely from behind a slow pace to just miss victory.

Going Home Now didn’t race again until July 17, when she finished fourth (2 1/2 lengths behind Shoopthereitis) in the above-mentioned maiden special weight. But Going Home Now is eligible to move forward while adding Lasix for her second run of the season, giving her a chance to turn the tables on Shoopthereitis. The fact jockey Luis Perez has won at a 21% rate in route races this year adds to the appeal.

Bettors playing the Pick 6 on a big budget might feel inclined to use Going Home Now and Shoopthereitis in equal strength. But those who need the cost-saving benefit of a single can feel good standing alone with Going Home Now, knowing she has a strong chance to vie for victory in this small field.

Good luck!