Keeler Johnson's picks and plays July 24

July 24th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, July 24 at Thistledown and Assiniboia Downs, along with horses to single in Pick 5 and Pick 6 carryovers 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 Late Pick 4 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 4 at Assiniboia Downs to win your share of an additional $1,000 jackpot.

Picks and Plays

Thistledown: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 1:50 p.m. ET)

#3 Feeling Easy (8-5) finished second in her debut over this track and class level, overcoming a slow start to rally and finish second by nine lengths against City Scene. Her margin of defeat looks a bit discouraging until one realizes that City Scene came back to smash the Jim Morgan Memorial Tah Dah S. by 16 lengths.

Viewed through this lens, Feeling Easy’s debut performance looks respectable. Apprentice jockey J.G. Torrealba has gone 6-for-13 (46%) teaming up with hot trainer Timothy Hamm over the last two months, so let’s key Feeling Easy on top of an exacta using #1 Naksu (5-1) and #4 Miz Keeta (5-2) for second place. Then we’ll key Feeling Easy to start a double wager.


  • #3 Feeling Easy (8-5)
  • #1 Naksu (5-1)
  • #4 Miz Keeta (5-2)


  • $15 Exacta: 3 with 1,4 ($30)
  • $10 Double: 3 with 4
    Total: $40

Thistledown: Race 4: $5,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:20 p.m. ET)

There isn’t much pace in this small field, which should lend an advantage to #4 Smudge the Cat (5-2). The speedy four-year-old gelding dueled for the lead over this track, distance, and class level on July 3 before weakening to finish fourth behind next-out $7,500 claiming winner K P Silver Bullet.

If Smudge the Cat gets away with an easier lead on Monday, he can lead all the way under jockey Luis Rivera, a 24% winner teaming up with trainer Jeffrey Radosevich over the last two months. We’ll single Smudge the Cat to conclude our double wager, then key him over #5 St. Lukes (8-1) and #3 On His Toes (7-2) in the exacta.


  • #4 Smudge the Cat (5-2)
  • #5 St. Lukes (8-1)
  • #3 On His Toes (7-2)


  • $10 Exacta: 4 with 3,5 ($20)

Assiniboia Downs: Race 3: R. C. Anderson Memorial S. (one mile, 9:25 p.m. ET)

#3 Mechanic Susie (6-5) and #1 Russian Pearl (7-5) have faced off four times. Mechanic Susie has finished ahead of her rival on three occasions, including when they ran 1-2 in the Hazel Wright Sire S. sprinting six furlongs at Assiniboia Downs earlier this month.

Mechanic Susie and Russian Pearl have finished close together in all three of their sprint meetups, but in the one-mile Buffalo S. at Assiniboia last fall, Mechanic Susie pulled 2 1/2 lengths clear of Russian Pearl. Stretching back out over one mile for the R. C. Anderson Memorial should allow Mechanic Susie to maintain her supremacy.

A cold exacta is the way we’ll play.


  • #3 Mechanic Susie (6-5)
  • #1 Russian Pearl (7-5)
  • #6 Diane’s Wish (6-1)


  • $25 Exacta: 3 with 1

Carryover Watch

Finger Lakes: Race 3: $978 Pick 6 carryover (2:13 p.m. ET)
Finger Lakes: Race 5: $12,095 Pick 5 carryover (3:11 p.m. ET)

There are a couple of non-jackpot carryovers up for grabs on Monday at Finger Lakes. The $1 Pick 6 has tossed up a $978 prize pool, while the 50-cent Pick 5 features a significantly larger $12,095 carryover.

Pick 6 bettors looking for a solid single to build tickets around are advised to check out Race 4, a maiden special weight taking place over one mile and 70 yards. Among the seven entrants, only two have ever recorded a top-three finish, and one of them—#4 Palace Bee (2-1)—did so when running third by 11 1/2 lengths in an $11,000 maiden claimer at Finger Lakes.

The other runner who has shown trifecta potential is #6 God Bless America (1-1), who boasts an 8-0-3-3 lifetime record. He’s actually cracked the top three in five consecutive races, including a pair of maiden special weights at Finger Lakes. God Bless America brings a bevy of sharp Brisnet Speed ratings to the table and appears to have found a perfect spot to secure his maiden victory.

Unfortunately, Race 4 isn’t part of the Pick 5 sequence, so Pick 5 bettors looking to cut costs will have to seek a different single. Perhaps they can fall back on #1 Little Ms Sunshine (3-1) in Race 7, a six-furlong allowance for fillies and mares.

Little Ms Sunshine was tons the best in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Finger Lakes last month, leading all the way through quick fractions to score by five lengths with an 87 Brisnet Speed rating. The only other entrant who has posted a similar number hasn’t done so in a long time, so Little Ms Sunshine looks like a possible Brisnet Speed rating standout.

There are also a couple of track bias stats in Little Ms Sunshine’s favor. Pacesetters have won 41% of six-furlong sprints at Finger Lakes this meet, while the rail post is producing winners at a solid 18% rate. Taking these stats together, Little Ms Sunshine should have every opportunity to lead all the way and bring her record to a perfect 2-for-2.

Good luck!