Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Jan. 3

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January 3rd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Jan. 3 at Fair Grounds and Parx Racing, along with a ticket for the $1,654 Pick 5 carryover at Mahoning Valley.

Picks and Plays

Parx Racing: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 1:58 p.m. ET)

#3 Mia Tosca (8-1) wasn’t disgraced in her debut sprinting seven furlongs at Parx. After rallying from sixth to third during the second quarter-mile, Mia Tosca flattened out to finish fourth with a competitive 73 Brisnet Speed rating.

On Monday, Mia Tosco will drop from unrestricted company into the Pennsylvania-bred ranks, opening the door for a winning effort. She’s bred to run long and should enjoy stretching out around two turns, so her 8-1 morning line odds are enticing.

Let’s bet Mia Tosca to win and play her on top of an exacta using New York shipper #1 Mythreebutterflies (7-2) and the stakes-placed #7 Burano (5-2) for second place.

  • $20 to win on #3 Mia Tosca
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 1,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles on turf, 4:35 p.m. ET)

#5 Carmel Crush (5-2) ran well in his only previous start on turf, finishing second in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs. The four-year-old gelding has since competed in a couple of dirt races on the Kentucky circuit, finishing second at Keeneland and fifth at Churchill Downs while putting up sharp Brisnet Speed ratings.

Carmel Crush is eligible to fire a big shot while returning to turf for hot trainer Matt Shirer. Monday’s test will mark Carmel Crush’s third start off a layoff, a 35% winning move for Shirer. Throw in the fact Shirer wins at a 27% rate with horses transitioning from dirt to turf, and Carmel Crush looks like a logical choice to beat #2 Sailor’s Return (7-2) and #3 Cash Rocket (2-1) to the winner’s circle.

  • $15 to win on #5 Carmel Crush
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 2,3 ($10)
  • $2.50 Trifecta: 5 with 2,3 with 2,3 ($5)
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 5:36 p.m. ET)

With her 9-0-7-1 lifetime resume, #11 Frosteria (9-5) might seem like a “pick up the pieces” type at first glance. But the daughter of Frosted is far more capable than her resume suggests. Runner-up in the Santa Ynez S. (G2) exactly one year ago, Frosteria has crossed the wire first in two of her last three starts, only to be disqualified on both occasions.

Clearly, Frosteria is a talented filly more than capable of holding her own at this class level. The Godolphin homebred has drawn wide at Fair Grounds, but she brings tactical speed to the mix and should be good enough to deliver a short-priced victory against a field that doesn’t appear overly deep on paper.

#3 Lovers Quarrel (3-1) can complete the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #11 Frosteria
  • $10 Exacta: 11 with 3
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Mahoning Valley, Race 1: $1,654 Pick 5 carryover (12:45 p.m. ET)

Want to kick off the racing week by chasing a non-jackpot carryover? Then you’re advised to check out the Monday card at Mahoning Valley, where a $1,654 Pick 5 prize pool is on the table.

A competitive sequence is on tap, but we’ll attempt to assemble a winning ticket for less than $20:

Race 1: $7,500 Maiden Claiming (one mile)

#8 Rosa’s Soul (7-5) hasn’t missed the trifecta in three starts on dirt, including when third in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Mahoning Valley last month. Jockey Sonny Leon and trainer Elliot Sullivan have gone 18-for-36 (50%) teaming up together over the last two months, so Rosa’s Soul should be tough to deny as a short-priced single.

Race 2: Allowance (six furlongs)

#1A Hosanna (3-1) obliterated a six-furlong maiden special weight at Mahoning last time out, romping by 6 1/2 lengths with a career-best 78 Brisnet Speed rating. But since this effort marked a big jump forward off her previous form, we’ll use proven allowance competitor #3 Queen Creed (2-1) as backup.

Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs)

#1 Gray Fashion (3-1) has hit the board in four of her five starts against maiden special weight company while posting solid Brisnet Speed ratings. But the first-time starter #7 Slicksneakyandfast (5-2)—with Sonny Leon aboard—is also worth including.

Race 4: $5,000 Claiming (one mile)

#4 La Cafetera (5-2) enters off a runner-up effort in a $6,500 claimer at Mahoning Valley, where she tracked the pace on her way to a respectable 66 Brisnet Speed rating. She’ll be formidable while stepping down the class ladder, though the same can be said of #6 Morning Light (3-1). Recent $5,000 claiming winner #8 San Nicola Prancer (7-2) can also challenge for hot trainer Rebecca Baker.

Race 5: $10,000 Claiming (one mile)

Stakes winner #9 Pat’s Karma (3-1) brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the mix while dropping in class, but his 13-race losing streak is a cause for pause. #2 Oaks Honey (4-1) and #5 Gone Too Soon (7-2) hold upset potential if Pat’s Karma misfires.

  • 50-cent Pick 5: 8 with 1,3 with 1,7 with 4,6,8 with 2,5,9 ($18)

Good luck!