Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for April 12

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April 12th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Monday, April 12, at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise.

Win bets, exactas, and trifectas are high on the agenda, but Keeler is also sharing thoughts on the $104,020 Pick 6 carryover at Turf Paradise.

Picks and plays

Mahoning Valley, Race 3: $6,500 claiming (six furlongs, 1:40 p.m. ET)

Two runners — #3 Lady’s Boy (3-1) and #7 Isolator (5-2) — rank a cut above their rivals from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective.

Lady’s Boy went winless in seven starts on the New York circuit, then relished a drop in class at Mahoning Valley, where he wired a $15,000 maiden claiming sprint by three lengths March 22.

Isolator made a similar move April 3, when he transitioned from the synthetic Tapeta track at Turfway Park to wire a $10,000 maiden claiming event at Mahoning by 3 3/4 lengths.

Isolator earned the higher Brisnet Speed rating — an 88, compared to Lady’s Boy’s 85 — but Lady’s Boy defeated tougher competition. My money will be riding on Lady’s Boy, whose trainer, Edwin Vizcarrondo, has won three of his five starts with sprinters at Mahoning over the last month.

#5 Consilium (5-1) can get involved for the exotics if the pace is hot.

$25 to win on #3 Lady’s Boy
$5 exacta: 3 with 5,7 ($10)
$2.50 trifecta: 3 with 5,7 with 5,7 ($5)
Total: $40

Mahoning Valley, Race 4: $10,000 maiden claiming (six furlongs, 2:08 p.m. ET)

#5 Tiz What It Tiz (4-5) hasn’t missed the board in her last four starts against maiden special weight company on the Ohio circuit. The daughter of Tiznow has tactical speed and threw down  66 Brisnet Speed ratings in her last two starts sprinting six furlongs at Mahoning Valley.

In a small field, without a ton of pace on paper, Tiz What It Tiz can get a perfect trip tracking #4 Gemmaker (7-2), a runner-up over this track and class level March 29. Trainer William Cowans strikes at a 29% rate with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company, so let’s bet Tiz What It Tiz on top of exacta and trifecta tickets, with Gemmaker emphasized underneath.

$20 exacta: 5 with 4
$10 trifecta: 5 with 4 with 3,6 ($20)
Total: $40

Turf Paradise, Race 3: $16,000 claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 5:20 p.m. ET)

#2 Blow My Mind (3-1) didn’t fire his best shot in a $25,000 optional-claiming allowance at Turf Paradise last month, when he faded to finish fifth, after a duel for the lead through quick fractions. But two starts back, Blow My Mind posted a 88 Brisnet Speed rating when he employed pace-tracking tactics to win a $12,500 waiver claiming race at Turf Paradise.

There isn’t much speed in Monday’s field, so Blow My Mind should have little difficulty securing the lead under hot jockey Isaias Enriquez. We’ll count on Blow My Mind to lead this field gate to wire and wager accordingly.

$25 to win on #2 Blow My Mind
$2.50 trifecta: 2 with 3 with 4,5,6 ($7.50)
$2.50 trifecta: 2 with 4,5,6 with 3 ($7.50)
Total: $40

Carryover watch

Turf Paradise, Race 5: $104,020 Grand Canyon Pick 6 Jackpot

The only six-figure carryover up for grabs at a Thoroughbred track Monday is the Grand Canyon Pick 6 jackpot at Turf Paradise. Sweeping the whole pool requires a unique winning ticket, which isn’t easy with a 20-cent wager. But as we’ve so often mentioned, consolation payoffs for jackpot-style wagers can be well worth pursuing. Friday’s sequence returned $1,309.32 without a single double-digit winner, and Thursday’s Pick 6 paid $2,443.30, even though every winner started at 9-2 or less.

Monday’s sequence presents a better opportunity than usual to pursue a lone winning ticket. The fields look competitive, with 62 horses (10.3 average per race) in the entries, so opportunities abound for surprising outcomes.

The fate of the jackpot may be determined right off the bat, in Race 5, the kickoff leg of the Pick 6. Many bettors figure to single #3 Ben Wade (2-1), who has shipped in from California and will drop from $12,500 to $3,500 claiming company in his first start for trainer Juan Silva.

But Ben Wade’s lone victory came over the synthetic Tapeta track at Golden Gate Fields, and he isn’t a standout in terms of recent Brisnet Speed ratings. #9 Fabulous Floyd (4-1) and #10 Arugula (3-1) have posted similar figures against $8,500 claiming company at Turf Paradise and likewise figure to improve with drops in class. If either can take down Ben Wade, the chance of a unique winning ticket will increase.

A similar scenario could arise in Race 7, a $30,000 optional-claiming maiden sprint. The unraced #2 Just a Kiss Away (3-1) figures to be a popular play for trainer Esetban Martinez, who strikes at a 27% rate with first-time starters. The daughter of Twirling Candy has been burning up the track in the mornings, with a five-furlong work in :58 1/5 March 23 and the same distance in :58 4/5 April 1. If Just a Kiss Away runs to her workouts, her rivals are likely running for second place. But if she falters in her first start under colors, you can make a case for almost anyone else to visit the winner’s circle.

The Pick 6 concludes in Race 10, a $3,500 starter allowance for fillies and mares at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf. #8 Drafty Breeze (3-1) is the horse to beat, after she cracked the exacta in her last three starts, including a neck defeat over this course, distance, and class level March 24. But drawing post 8 sets the stage for a wide trip, and four of her rivals have never run on turf, so there’s a chance an unheralded longshot could step up and surprise in her turf debut.

Good luck!