Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of Aug. 18 & Ellis Park P5 Carryover

August 18th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Aug. 18 at Saratoga, Del Mar, and Remington Park, along with a horse to single in the $92,036 Pick 5 carryover at Ellis Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Del Mar Daily Double Down: Receive a 25% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning daily double wagers on Thursdays and Fridays at Del Mar. Your base wager amount must be minimum $2.
  • Saratoga $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races Wednesday through Sunday at Saratoga.
  • Colonial Downs $2,500 Late Pick 5 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Colonial Downs to earn your share of a $2,500 weekly jackpot.
  • Summer International Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any eligible race at Randwick (AUS).

Picks and Plays

Saratoga: Race 8: Skidmore S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:58 p.m. ET)

Trainer Wesley Ward is renowned for his success training two-year-old turf sprinters, so it’s no surprise that he’s won two of the last three editions of the Skidmore. He can pick up another victory courtesy of #9 Fandom (5-1), who debuted with a 6 3/4-length romp over the Keeneland turf course before finishing 11th in the tough Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot.

Returning to the U.S. and dropping in class can send Fandom to the winner’s circle under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who has gone 4-for-8 (50%) teaming up with Ward over the last two months. Recent Tyro S. winner #7 No Nay Mets (7-5) can complete a cold exacta.


  • #9 Fandom (5-1)
  • #7 No Nay Mets (7-5)
  • #8 Billy the Greek (8-1)


  • $15 to win on #9 Fandom
  • $15 Exacta: 9 with 7
    Total: $30

Del Mar: Race 7: CTT and TOC S. (1 3/8 miles on turf, 9:30 p.m. ET)

Defending CTT and TOC winner #9 Sister Otoole (6-1) recently returned from a lengthy layoff to finish fifth in an $80,000 allowance optional claimer racing 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga. That was a stakes-caliber field from which the Grade 1-placed third-place finisher Kalifornia Queen returned to win.

Stretching back out over 1 3/8 miles should be more suitable for Sister Otoole, so let’s bet her to win and key her over 2021 CTT and TOC winner #6 Neige Blanche (5-2) and Santa Barbara S. winner #4 Queen Ofthe Temple (3-1) in the exacta.


  • #9 Sister Otoole (6-1)
  • #6 Neige Blanche (5-2)
  • #4 Queen Ofthe Temple (3-1)


  • $20 to win on #9 Sister Otoole
  • $5 Exacta: 9 with 4,6 ($10)
    Total: $30

Remington Park: Race 8: Governor’s Cup S. (1 1/8 miles, 11:23 p.m. ET)

#3 Warrant (8-5) looks like the horse to beat for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, who has compiled an excellent 17-5-5-4 (29%) record at Remington Park since 2021. Runner-up by a head in the 2022 Santa Anita H. (G1), Warrant competes primarily at the graded stakes level, but has won three of his last four starts at the non-graded level, including the Isaac Murphy Marathon S. three starts back.

Dropping in class might be all Warrant needs to deliver victory, so we’ll key him over Steve Sexton Mile (G3) runner-up #1 Kokokomo (6-1) and recent Ellis Park allowance optional claiming winner #2 Presidential (4-1) in the exacta.


  • #3 Warrant (8-5)
  • #1 Kokokomo (6-1)
  • #2 Presidential (4-1)


  • $15 Exacta: 3 with 1,2 ($30)

Carryover Watch

Ellis Park: Race 5: $92,036 Pick 5 carryover (2:45 p.m. ET)

Do you have what it takes to win a share of Friday’s Late Pick 5 carryover at Ellis Park? The prize pool stands at $92,036, so there’s lots of betting value to pursue, but the sequence looks tricky to handicap.

The Pick 5 spans Races 5-9 and contains a total of 63 horses (averaging 12.6 per race) and 256,256 possible outcomes before scratches. Granted, nine of those horses are also-eligible entrants, so the sequence will be a little easier to analyze once race-day changes are announced. But it’s still a deep Pick 5 with an abundance of possible outcomes.

The key to playing a competitive ticket on a reasonable budget will be finding a single to build tickets around. Fortunately, Race 8 provides such an opportunity. It’s a maiden special weight for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on dirt, and morning line favorite #3 Pumpkin Scone (7-5) looks tough to beat.

Conditioned by high-percentage trainer Brad Cox (who has gone 13-for-44, 30% at Ellis Park since July 7), Pumpkin Scone has run well in her first two starts against maiden special weight competition. She debuted in a 6 1/2-furlong contest at Churchill Downs, where she tracked the pace and led in midstretch before staying on to finish second. Then in a seven-furlong race at Ellis Park, Pumpkin Scone carved out a hot pace before weakening in the final furlong to finish second again.

These efforts yielded sharp Brisnet Speed ratings of 85 and 87. Among the fillies and mares in Friday’s field, only #5 Spelterini (4-1) has posted similar numbers, putting up an 85 and an 86 when second in a pair of six-furlong maiden special weights at Aqueduct during the winter. But Spelterini hasn’t run since April and is shipping to a new circuit, whereas Pumpkin Scone has strong recent form and a home-court advantage.

In short, Pumpkin Scone appears to have found the perfect spot to secure her maiden victory. Cutting back to six furlongs should suit the daughter of Into Mischief just fine, and jockey Gerardo Corrales has gone 5-for-12 (42%) teaming up with Cox over the last two months, so we’ll make Pumpkin Scone a Pick 5 single.

Good luck!