Horses to play in lucrative carryovers at Mahoning Valley and Keeneland
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson analyzes a pair of Saturday carryovers at Mahoning Valley and Keeneland.
Mahoning Valley, Race 4: $93,301 Pick 6 mandatory payout (1:38 p.m. ET)
If you’re looking for a single to build tickets around, there are a couple of possibilities to consider. In Race 5, a $25,000 allowance optional claimer for Ohio-bred fillies and mare sprinting six furlongs, #2 Flatter Her Again (8-5) looks formidable. The daughter of Flatter has won her last two starts in daylight fashion, including the six-furlong Southern Park S. at Mahoning. That victory yielded a lofty 86 Brisnet Speed rating, and a repeat should carry Flatter Her Again back to the winner’s circle under hot jockey Sonny Leon.
Another potential single comes in Race 6, the Cheryl S. White Memorial S. for three-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs. #6 Strategic Bird (5-2) hasn’t missed the trifecta in four starts for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, including a gate-to-wire score in the six-furlong Sandpiper S. at Tampa Bay Downs.
Most recently third in a quality renewal of the six-furlong Any Limit S. at Gulfstream Park, Strategic Bird brings excellent tactical speed and competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the table. The competition at Mahoning figures to be a bit easier than in Florida, stamping Strategic Bird as a logical candidate for a gate-to-wire victory. Keep in mind, pacesetters win 41% of six-furlong sprints at Mahoning.
Keeneland, Race 11: $5,468 Super High 5 carryover (6:20 p.m. ET)
Whether you win or lose the Mahoning Valley Pick 6, you’ll definitely want to check out the Saturday finale at Keeneland. The race in question is a $62,500 allowance optional claimer featuring a $5,468 carryover in the $1 Super High 5.
The seven-furlong sprint has drawn 11 entries, but #4 Highly Motivated (8-5) looks like a standout. The son of Into Mischief hasn’t been seen in action since finishing 10th in the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1), but he’s turned in a lengthy work tab in preparation for his return and figures to fire a strong shot while cutting back in distance.
After all, Highly Motivated is a neck away from being undefeated in three starts sprinting, including a blowout win in the 6 1/2-furlong Nyquist S. during the autumn of 2020. That effort produced a lofty 102 Brisnet Speed rating, a figure Highly Motivated matched when finishing second in the 2021 Blue Grass S. (G1) over 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland. In the Blue Grass, Highly Motivated came home just a neck behind future champion and Belmont S. (G1) winner Essential Quality while pulling 5 1/2 lengths clear of next-out Preakness S. (G1) hero Rombauer.
If Highly Motivated produces anything close to his A-game on Saturday, he can cruise to victory over California shipper #2 Escape Route (3-1) and the consistent allowance runner #8 Ducale (5-1).
Here’s how we’ll play the race:
- $1 Super High 5: 4 with 2,8 with 2,7,8,11 with 2,5,7,8,11 with 2,3,5,6,7,8,11 ($72)