Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Jan. 14
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Jan. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs, Fair Grounds, and Turf Paradise, along with a ticket for the $9,157 Super High 5 carryover at Turfway Park.
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- Exacta Insurance: Receive refunds on exacta bets (up to $10) if your two selected horses finish in the first three home (but not in the winning order) at Turf Paradise. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
- Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Rosehill (Australia).
Picks and Plays
Tampa Bay Downs: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (seven furlongs, 4:22 p.m. ET)
Since 2017, trainer Todd Pletcher has compiled a stellar 20-for-52 (38%) record saddling three-year-old males on dirt at Tampa Bay Downs. This includes a 4-for-11 (36%) record with first-time starters, suggesting the unraced Pletcher trainees #5 Shinnecock Hills (3-1) and #9 Macallan (7-2) will be formidable in this maiden sprint for sophomores.
Of the pair, Macallan might be the most appealing. The son of Quality Road breezed a bullet five furlongs in :59 3/5 at Palm Beach Downs last Saturday, suggesting Macallan has serious potential.
Let’s bet Macallan to win, then key him over his stablemate in a cold exacta.
- $20 to win on #9 Macallan
- $10 Exacta: 9 with 5
Fair Grounds: Race 7: Allowance (one mile, 5:05 p.m. ET)
#5 Bron and Brow (4-5) owns the three highest Brisnet Speed ratings in this allowance sprint for Louisiana-breds and thus looks difficult to defeat. Conditioned by hot trainer Mark Casse (a 21% winner at Fair Grounds), Bron and Brow is versatile in terms of running style and enters off a 2 3/4-length romp in the six-furlong Louisiana Futurity at Fair Grounds.
For second place, #1 Big Chopper (9-2) is an appealing choice. The son of Preakness S. (G1) winner Shackleford wired his debut dashing six furlongs at Fair Grounds, beating next-out winner Order Up by half a length. In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Big Chopper is the second-fastest horse in Thursday’s field.
We’ll bet Bron and Brow over Big Chopper in a large exacta.
- $30 Exacta: 5 with 1
Turf Paradise: Race 8: Queen of the Green S. (7 1/2 furlongs on turf, 6:00 p.m. ET)
#2 My Crafty Gal (8-1) boasts a terrific 11-7-3-0 lifetime resume over the Turf Paradise turf course. The speedy mare actually enters off back-to-back wins over the Turf Paradise lawn, including a four-length romp in a $25,000 allowance optional claimer racing 7 1/2 furlongs last month.
My Crafty Gal brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the mix and may have what it takes to upset California shippers #7 Brooke (3-1) and #10 Zydeco Mama (5-1) in the race to the finish line. Let’s bet My Crafty Gal to win and key her on top of exacta and trifecta tickets.
We’ll make our exacta a cold $10 variety using Brooke for second place, in order to pursue the Exacta Insurance promotion.
- $15 to win on #2 My Crafty Gal
- $10 Exacta: 2 with 7
- $2.50 Trifecta: 2 with 7,10 with 7,10 ($5)
Turfway Park, Race 8: $9,157 Super High 5 carryover (9:46 p.m. ET)
Every racing day at Turfway Park concludes with a $1 Super High 5 offered on the final race. Almost always, the race is an ultra-competitive event with a large field. And often, there’s an enticing carryover up for grabs.
Turfway will follow the typical script this Friday. The card concludes with Race 8, a $5,000 claimer featuring 12 horses in the main body of the field plus one on the also-eligible list. Assuming 12 runners start, there are 95,040 possible outcomes, and barring a dead heat, only one combination will yield a winning share of the $9,157 non-jackpot carryover.
The horse to beat is probably #11 The Boss Factor (7-2), who brings tactical speed and proven Turfway form to the table. In his local debut racing one mile against $5,000 claiming company on Dec. 12, The Boss Factor employed tracking tactics to finish second. Then in a similar race on Jan. 1, The Boss Factor dueled for the early lead before kicking on to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
#13 Honorable Hero (6-1) and #4 Down Home Kitten (7-2)—second and third over this track, distance, and class level on Dec. 17—are other obvious players, though Honorable Hero is the also-eligible and will need a scratch in order to compete. In contrast, we’ll lean against morning line favorite #7 Army Scout (3-1), whose layoff-dotted form has generally been trending downward over the last two years.
One longshot worth supporting is #10 Amani’s Kitten (15-1). The son of Kitten’s Joy has been sprinting as of late, most recently finishing fourth in a six-furlong $5,000 claimer at Turfway. But his form running long on turf is respectable; four starts back, he nabbed a $7,500 claimer racing one mile at Belterra Park. Stretching out in trip might be the secret to success for Amani’s Kitten.
Assuming Honorable Hero draws into the field, here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:
- $1 Super High 5: 11 with 4,10,13 with 4,10,13 with 4,10,13 with 2,3,5,7,8,12 ($36)
- $1 Super High 5: 11 with 4,10,13 with 4,10,13 with 2,7,8,12 with 4,10,13 ($24)
If Honorable Hero scratches, we’ll play the following tickets instead:
- $1 Super High 5: 11 with 4,10 with 4,10 with 2,7,8 with 2,3,5,7,8,12 ($30)
- $1 Super High 5: 11 with 4,10 with 2,7,8 with 4,10 with 2,3,5,7,8,12 ($30)