Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of Aug. 31

August 31st, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Aug. 31 at Saratoga, Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Kentucky Downs, including tickets for the With Anticipation (G2).

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Hoosier Park $1,000 Pick 4 Hit It & Split It: Hit the late Pick 4 on Thursdays at Hoosier Park to win your share of a $1,000 weekly jackpot.
  • Colonial Downs Thursday Leaderboard: Place $10+ win bets on Thursdays at Colonial Downs to compete for your share of a $2,500 weekly jackpot.
  • Saratoga $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races Wednesday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 6 at Saratoga.
  • 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.

Picks and Plays

Saratoga: Race 7: With Anticipation (G3, 1 1/16 miles on turf, 4:34 p.m. ET)

#2 Spirit Prince (3-1) might be a maiden, but he ran well in his debut over this course and distance on July 22, rallying from a couple lengths behind a slow pace to finish second by half a length. The winner, Noted, came right back to win the Sapling S. at Monmouth Park.

There are many speed horses entered in the With Anticipation, so Spirit Prince figures to receive a favorable pace setup. He’s adding blinkers (opening the door for further improvement) and picking up accomplished turf rider Flavien Prat, so Spirit Prince is shaping up as a formidable win threat even while stepping up in class.

#7 Nomos (4-1) and #8 Carson’s Run (7-2) can battle for a place in the exacta.


  • #2 Spirit Prince (3-1)
  • #8 Carson’s Run (7-2)
  • #7 Nomos (4-1)


  • $20 to win on #2 Spirit Prince
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 7,8 ($10)
    Total: $30

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 4:45 p.m. ET)

#6 Greewhiz (9-2) showed some talent in his debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over this track and class level, tracking the pace and launching a mid-race move into contention before weakening in the homestretch to finish fifth by 2 1/2 lengths.

There’s very little speed in Thursday’s field, so Greewhiz figures to shake loose on an easy lead while stretching out in distance and adding blinkers. From there, he can spring a mild surprise under jockey Fernando De La Cruz, a 28% winner teaming up with hot trainer Genaro Garcia over the last two months.

#2 Captain’s Best (7-2), runner-up in his debut over this track, distance, and class level on Aug. 10, can complete the exacta.


  • #6 Greewhiz (9-2)
  • #2 Captain’s Best (7-2)
  • #9 Dattts Life (3-1)


  • $20 to win on #6 Greewhiz
  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 2
    Total: $30

Kentucky Downs: Race 10: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on turf, 6:28 p.m. ET)

Since 2020, trainer Brian Lynch has compiled a stellar 4-for-7 (57%) record saddling two-year-olds at Kentucky Downs, which includes a 1-for-1 (100%) record with first-time starters. This bodes well for Lynch’s unraced juvenile #4 Tapitoro (9-2), a stoutly bred half-brother to Woodbine Mile (G1) winner El Tormenta.

Tapitoro has put together a lengthy work tab in preparation for his debut and is slated to be ridden by James Graham, who has gone 2-for-8 (25%) teaming up with Lynch over the last two months. There are enough positives in Tapitoro’s favor to warrant betting him to win and keying him over #6 Copper Missile (4-1), #9 Channeler (12-1), and #12 Raguel (12-1) in the exacta.


  • #4 Tapitoro (9-2)
  • #6 Copper Missile (4-1)
  • #12 Raguel (12-1)


  • $18 to win on #4 Tapitoro
  • $4 Exacta: 4 with 6,9,12 ($12)
    Total: $30

Good luck!