Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 17

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 17th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Jan. 17 at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise, along with tickets for the $340 Super High 5 carryover at Sunland Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Trifecta Tuesday: Receive a 15% bonus on trifecta winnings excluding stake amount; up to $25 per day.

Picks and Plays

Mahoning Valley: Race 2: Allowance (six furlongs, 1:13 p.m. ET)

#4 Graywing (8-5) is the morning line favorite after winning a 5 1/2-furlong allowance at Mahoning Valley earlier this month. But two starts back, Graywing ran second in a six-furlong allowance over this track, beaten one length by #2 Atlantic Firestorm (5-1).

Atlantic Firestorm enters Tuesday’s contest off back-to-back victories, having previously smashed a $10,000 maiden claimer dashing six furlongs at Mahoning by 13 lengths over a next-out winner. She’s a much better price than Graywing on the morning line and appears just as likely (maybe even more likely) to visit the winner’s circle.

We’ll bet Atlantic Firestorm to win, key her over Graywing in the exacta, and add #1 Centsofwander (4-1) for a trifecta.


  • #2 Atlantic Firestorm (5-1)
  • #4 Graywing (8-5)
  • #1 Centsofwander (4-1)


  • $15 to win on #2 Atlantic Firestorm
  • $10 Exacta: 2 with 4
  • $5 Trifecta: 2 with 4 with 1
    Total: $30

Turf Paradise: Race 1: $10,000-$8,500 Maiden Claiming (five furlongs, 2:25 p.m. ET)

None of the experienced fillies in this field have ever recorded a trifecta finish, even though the five of them have made a combined 17 starts. The best of the lot might be #2 Lotsa Lou (2-1), but she finished fourth by half a dozen lengths over this track, distance, and class level on Dec. 26.

That’s why we’re going to think outside the box and support the first-time starter #1 My Jolene (8-1). She’s a daughter of Outrageous Limit, who sires a respectable 11% winners from first-time starters, and My Jolene won’t have to be a superstar to defeat Tuesday’s field.

#3 Dahlia’s Dancer (5-2) can battle with Lotsa Lou for a spot in the exacta.


  • #1 My Jolene (8-1)
  • #2 Lotsa Lou (2-1)
  • #3 Dahlia’s Dancer (5-2)


  • $12 to win on #1 My Jolene
  • $4 Exacta: 1 with 2,3 ($8)
  • Total: $20

Mahoning Valley: Race 5: $5,000 Claiming (one mile and 70 yards, 2:37 p.m. ET)

#8 Tip Sheet (4-1) has competed strongly in recent starts against $5,000 claiming company racing one mile at Mahoning Valley. He finished second on Nov. 7, prevailed on Nov. 19 and Dec. 13, and finished second on Dec. 29.

These efforts produced consistent and competitive Brisnet Speed ratings in the 76-81 range. Horses drawn in posts 8 and wider have enjoyed an advantage racing one mile and 70 yards at Mahoning this meet, and hot jockey Jose Bracho (a 21% winner at Mahoning) is named to ride Tip Sheet. All signs suggest the eight-year-old gelding is ready to vie for victory at a nice price.

We’ll use #1 Youvesaiditall (5-1) and #11 Blame It On Eddie (9-2) for exacta purposes.


  • #8 Tip Sheet (4-1)
  • #11 Blame It On Eddie (9-2)
  • #1 Youvesaiditall (5-1)


  • $20 to win on #8 Tip Sheet
  • $5 Exacta: 8 with 1,11 ($10)
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Sunland Park, Race 9: $340 Super High 5 carryover (6:00 p.m. ET)

The $340 Super High 5 carryover up for grabs on Tuesday at Sunland Park isn’t the largest carryover you’ll ever see. But it’s a non-jackpot prize pool, and the minimum bet amount is only 50 cents (half the typical $1 for non-jackpot Super High 5 wagers), so there are enticing reasons to play the wager.

The carryover is on the table in Race 9, a $15,000 starter optional claimer for New Mexico-breds sprinting six furlongs on dirt. Nine horses have been entered, and there are plenty of viable contenders. But morning line favorite #5 Go Red Rascal (5-2) might be worth keying on top.

Go Red Rascal has placed against stakes competition and enters in good form. Three starts back, he won a six-furlong allowance at Zia Park by 2 1/2 lengths over #2 Kiss Me D Oro (8-1), earning a strong 82 Brisnet Speed rating. And last time out, Go Red Rascal finished second by a neck in a six-furlong Zia allowance while earning an 81 Brisnet Speed rating.

Go Red Rascal has speed but isn’t a need-the-lead type, a positive since pacesetters have gone 1-for-20 (5%) sprinting six furlongs at Zia since Jan. 1. The hope is to see Go Red Rascal settle a length or two off the early pace before pouncing to victory in the homestretch.

Who should we use underneath the favorite?  Certainly we have to respect #8 More Firewater (7-2), who has cracked the trifecta in nine of his last 10 starts. That includes a victory in a $20,000 allowance optional claimer at Zia Park three starts back. More Firewater’s talent and consistency should land him another top-three finish on Tuesday.

We also have to respect #6 Black Eyed Bandit (12-1) as a live longshot. He’s won three of his last four starts, and his lone defeat came against non-state-restricted competition. Black Eyed Bandit has been steadily ascending the class ladder and enters off a victory in a $10,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs at Sunland, so Tuesday’s conditions should suit the six-year-old gelding. Hot jockey Enrique Gomez (a 24% winner at Sunland) has the mount.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • 50-cent Super High 5: 5 with 8 with 6 with 1,2,3,4,7,9 with 1,2,3,4,7,9 ($15)
  • 50-cent Super High 5: 5 with 6 with 8 with 1,2,3,4,7,9 with 1,2,3,4,7,9 ($15)
  • 50-cent Super High 5: 5 with 8 with 1,2,3,4,7,9 with 6 with 1,2,3,4,7,9 ($15)
    Total: $45

Good luck!