Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Jan. 13

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January 13th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $85 picks and plays for Thursday, Jan. 13 at Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds, including exacta and trifecta tickets.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Fair Grounds.

Picks and Plays

Gulfstream Park: Race 8: $25,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile, 4:11 p.m. ET)

#5 Tapit to the Wire (3-1) made a good impression in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Gulfstream Park. A bit of early traffic trouble left him a few lengths off the pace in third place, but Tapit to the Wire shrugged off this obstacle to rally strongly and prevail by three lengths.

Tapit to the Wire finished fast, sprinting the final furlong in approximately :12.40 to reach the finish line in 1:10.79 and earn an excellent 93 Brisnet Speed rating. Trainer Saffie Joseph doesn’t win all that often with first-time starters (at least by his own high-percentage standards), so Tapit to the Wire is eligible to take a step forward in his second run under colors.

Certainly Tapit to the Wire has trained sharply in preparation for his second start, and it’s encouraging to note jockey Junior Alvarado (a 46% winner teaming up with Joseph over the last two months) is named to ride. Taking all of these positives together, we’ll bet Tapit to the Wire to win and play him over #2 Amount (5-1) in a small exacta.

  • $25 to win on #5 Tapit to the Wire
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 2
    Total: $30

Gulfstream Park: Race 9: $35,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/2 miles on turf, 4:42 p.m. ET)

#4 Mezcal (8-5) has shown improving form since stretching out over extended distances on turf. The Todd Pletcher trainee broke her maiden racing 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park (defeating a next-out winner by 1 1/2 lengths) before finishing second in a 1 3/16-mile allowance at Aqueduct.

Mezcal’s success running long isn’t surprising when you consider how she’s a daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Pioneerof the Nile out of Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Cathryn Sophia. Mezcal also has tactical speed and seems destined to secure an uncontested lead while stretching out over 1 1/2 miles. Throw in hot jockey Irad Ortiz, and Mezcal looks difficult to defeat.

The stoutly bred duo of #2 Silky Warrior (6-1) and #6 Be Up (4-1) can complete the exacta and trifecta.

  • $20 to win on #4 Mezcal
  • $5 Exacta: 4 with 2,6 ($10)
  • $2.50 Trifecta: 4 with 2,6 with 2,6 ($5)
    Total: $35

Fair Grounds: Race 9: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles, 6:07 p.m. ET)

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for this track, distance, and class level is an 82. Since none of the experienced runners in this field have earned a figure higher than 78, we’ll take a shot with the first-time starter #6 Bombarra Gold (6-1).

A daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense, who sires 13% winners from first-time starters, Bombarra Gold is conditioned by Gary Scherer. Since 2019, Sherer’s overall win percentage has hovered around the 12% mark. But his success rate with first-time starters jumps to 23%, and Sherer has gone 3-for-6 (50%) debuting horses over one mile or farther in recent years.

At 6-1, Bombarra Gold is worth betting to win.

  • $20 to win on #6 Bombarra Gold

Good luck!