Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of Aug. 29

August 29th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Aug. 29 at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Assiniboia Downs, along with thoughts on the Super High 5 carryover at Louisiana Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Trifecta Tuesday: Receive a 15% bonus on trifecta winnings excluding stake amount; up to $25 per day.

Picks and Plays

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:36 p.m. ET)

Trainer Eddie Kenneally has been absolutely on fire at Horseshoe Indianapolis this meet, going 6-for-8 (75%). That includes a 1-for-1 record debuting juveniles on dirt.

Therefore, we’ll support Kenneally’s unraced two-year-old #5 Coffee Crisp (3-1). A daughter of Twirling Candy (who sires a lofty 18% winners from first-time starters), Coffee Crisp has turned in a couple of bullet workouts at Keeneland this month and looks ready to roll under hot jockey Declan Cannon, a 43% winner teaming up with Kenneally over the last two months.

Let’s bet Coffee Crisp to win, key her over #4 El Kown (5-2) in an exacta, and single her to start a double wager.


  • #5 Coffee Crisp (3-1)
  • #4 El Kown (5-2)
  • #3 Lady Yellowstone (8-1)


  • $20 to win on #5 Coffee Crisp
  • $6 Exacta: 5 with 4
  • $4 Double: 5 with 1
    Total: $30

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles on turf, 6:07 p.m. ET)

#1 Versify (8-1) ran reasonably well in a one-mile maiden special weight over the Horseshoe Indianapolis turf course earlier this month, rallying from behind a modest pace to finish fourth by 3 1/2 lengths. The daughter of Justify is a half-sister to the stakes-winning turf routers Inflexibility and Halo Again, so she has the pedigree to improve with maturity and shine over Tuesday’s conditions.

There are other positives in Versify’s favor as well. She’s adding blinkers, a 29% winning move for trainer Brad Cox. She’s racing on grass for the second time, a 30% winning move for Cox. And she enters off a bullet half-mile workout at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

At 8-1, Versify is worth betting to win. We’ll also single her to conclude our double wager and play her over #5 Hurry Up Hannah (6-1), #7 Ms. Lilibet (9-2), and #8 Paint Me Perfect (4-1) in the exacta.


  • #1 Versify (8-1)
  • #7 Ms. Lilibet (9-2)
  • #5 Hurry Up Hannah (6-1)


  • $18 to win on #1 Versify
  • $4 Exacta: 1 with 5,7,8 ($12)
    Total: $30

Assiniboia Downs: Race 1: Bocage S. (1 1/16 miles, 8:30 p.m. ET)

There isn’t much speed on paper in this five-horse field, which should lend an advantage to heavy favorite #1 Big Nick (4-5). The five-year-old gelding regularly presses or tracks the pace and enters off a five-length romp in the Manitoba Mile at Assiniboia Downs.

#3 Magic Tiger (9-5), fourth in the Manitoba Mile but previously victorious over Big Nick in the 7 1/2-furlong R. J. Speers Memorial, is a logical choice to complete the exacta. Deep-closing Manitoba Mile runner-up #5 Convention (10-1) can round out the trifecta.


  • #1 Big Nick (4-5)
  • #3 Magic Tiger (9-5)
  • #5 Convention (10-1)


  • $25 Exacta: 1 with 3
  • $5 Trifecta: 1 with 3 with 5
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Louisiana Downs: Race 7: $226 Super High 5 carryover (7:53 p.m. ET)

The Super High 5 carryover up for grabs in Tuesday’s final race at Louisiana Downs isn’t the biggest you’ll ever see; to be precise, the prize pool is $226. But the minimum bet amount is only 50 cents as opposed to the more typical $1 seen at many tracks, so competitive tickets can be played for half the usual cost.

Race 7 is a $7,500 claimer for horses who have never won three races, and the distance is one mile on turf. It’s a tricky race to analyze not only because there are 12 horses (including two also-eligibles) in the entries, but because obvious morning line favorite #8 Chief Alpha (5-2) doesn’t look completely trustworthy.

On July 1, in his return from a one-year layoff, Chief Alpha tackled a $25,000 claimer for non-winners of two races and launched a sharp rally to win the 7 1/2-furlong Louisiana Downs grass contest by 1 1/4 lengths. But despite this nice performance, on July 31 Chief Alpha dropped in class for a $12,500 claimer for non-winners of three races. Once again, he crossed the finish line in first place, but only by a neck, and he wound up being disqualified to third place for drifting out and impeding #2 Bosshog Them Duke (7-2).

Now Chief Alpha is dropping in class again, to the $7,500 level. Class drops like this can be a sign that a horse is sitting on regression, so it’s fair to wonder if Chief Alpha will take a step backward on Tuesday, opening the door for an upset.

The above-mentioned Bosshog Them Duke is a candidate to steal top honors. He was upgraded to second place via the disqualification of Chief Alpha on July 31 and might have finished closer (or perhaps even won) with an unencumbered trip. That marked his first turf start in ages, so Bosshog Them Dukes still has upside for improvement and appears capable of springing a mild surprise.

#5 Chicken Truck (9-2) warrants respect too. Two recent turf starts at Evangeline Downs have seen Chicken Truck finish first in a $12,500 claimer for non-winners of two races and second in a $12,500 claimer for non-winners of three races. Tackling a $7,500 claimer for non-winners of three races might be the perfect fit for Chicken Truck, who campaigns for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Juan Vargas and Eduardo Ramirez.

What if we try to beat Chief Alpha by building tickets around Bosshog Them Duke and Chicken Truck, counting on one to win and the other to finish in the top three? We’re thinking that sounds like a winning strategy, and one with the potential to pay nicely for good measure.

Good luck!