Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 19
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, including tickets for Turfway’s $1,174 Super High 5 carryover.
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- Fair Grounds $1,000 Late Pick 5 Hit It and Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Fair Grounds on any day of live racing from Jan. 5-31 (excluding Jan. 21) to win your share of a daily $1,000 bonus jackpot.
- Turfway Park $2,500 Thursday Leaderboard Contest: Place $10+ win wagers at Turfway Park on Thursdays from Jan. 5-26 to earn points and play for your share of a $2,500 weekly jackpot.
Picks and Plays
Fair Grounds: Race 3: $15,000 Claiming (one mile and 70 yards, 3:15 p.m. ET)
#1 Direct Order (9-2) has been in strong form during the current Fair Grounds meet. He employed pace-tracking tactics to win a $15,000 claimer, ran eighth behind Kentucky Derby (G1) alumnus Zozos in a $50,000 allowance optional claimer, and then rallied to finish second in a $30,000 claimer.
Returning to the $15,000 claiming ranks might be all Direct Order needs to bounce back with a victory. At 9-2, he’s worth betting to win and keying over #7 Mau Mau (7-2) and #5 Smokey Harbor (5-1) in the exacta.
- #1 Direct Order (9-2)
- #7 Mau Mau (7-2)
- #5 Smokey Harbor (5-1)
- $20 to win on #1 Direct Order
- $5 Exacta: 1 with 5,7 ($10)
Fair Grounds: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 5:15 p.m. ET)
#6 Catwings (3-1) finished second over this track, distance, and class level in March 2022, beaten less than a length while posting a career-best 85 Brisnet Speed rating. Even better, she crossed the wire first in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Horseshoe Indianapolis last summer, though she was later disqualified due to a positive test.
Catwings hasn’t run since June, but trainer Tom Amoss (a 29% winner at Fair Grounds this meet) strikes at an excellent 21% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more. Throw in jockey Edgar Morales (a 30% winner teaming up with Amoss over the last two months), and Catwings is an appealing win choice.
#1 Rose Palace (5-1) and #3 Please Be Kind (4-1) can battle for exacta honors.
- #6 Catwings (3-1)
- #1 Rose Palace (5-1)
- #3 Please Be Kind (4-1)
- $10 Exacta: 6 with 1,3 ($20)
Turfway Park: Race 3: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 6:55 p.m. ET)
#4 Chiseler (2-1) looks ready to win for hot trainer Gregory Foley, who has gone 2-for-5 (40%) at Turfway Park since Nov. 30. The chestnut colt competed four times against stakes company at Woodbine last fall, then capped off his 2022 campaign by finishing second in a $50,000 allowance optional claimer sprinting six furlongs at Turfway.
The winner of that allowance was Bromley, who is entered to race in the Lecomte (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this Saturday. Chiseler was only beaten 1 1/2 lengths and is sticking to the same track, distance, and class level on Thursday, suggesting he’ll be tough to beat.
#1 Olazabal (3-1), a maiden winner over this track and distance two starts back, can complete the exacta.
- #4 Chiseler (2-1)
- #1 Olazabal (3-1)
- #3 American Blaze (7-2)
- $20 to win on #4 Chiseler
- $10 Exacta: 4 with 1
- Total: $30
Turfway Park, Race 8: $1,174 Super High 5 carryover (9:25 p.m. ET)
$1,174. That’s the size of the Super High 5 carryover up for grabs on Thursday at Turfway Park.
The $1 wager is available to bet in Race 8, the finale of the evening card. To win a share of the carryover, you’ll have to sort through the dozen three-year-old maidens set to sprint 6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta in a $15,000 maiden claimer.
It’s hard to know where to begin in handicapping the field. The first-time starters don’t appear poised to fire off giant efforts on debut, but the experienced runners bring largely uninspiring form to the table.
A perfect example is morning line favorite #6 Team Leader (7-2), a Godolphin homebred dropping in class out of a quartet of maiden special weights. Team Leader has been beaten by double-digit margins in all four of his starts and finished last in his Turfway debut last month, so it’s hard to say whether dropping in class will be sufficient to trigger a winning turnaround.
#11 Frady (9-2) and #12 Crack the Moon (4-1) are perhaps more appealing contenders, if only because they’ve shown flashes of competitive spark. Frady has set the pace in each of his last three starts, placing in maiden special weights on dirt and turf at Horseshoe Indianapolis before fading to finish eighth in a one-mile heat over the same class level at Turfway. Dropping down in class should help Frady produce a competitive run in his second Turfway try.
As for Crack the Moon, he flashed speed when finishing second over Thursday’s track, distance, and class level on Dec. 9. That effort produced a solid 65 Brisnet Speed rating, tied for the highest in Thursday’s field, and Crack the Moon subsequently posted a 63 when fading to finish eighth in a $30,000 maiden claimer racing one mile at Turfway. Dropping back down in class and distance ought to trigger a rebound.
So how should we bet the Super High 5? We recommend keying Crack the Moon on top. Underneath, we’ll emphasize Frady and #10 Royally Bitter (8-1), a first-time starter who has hot Turfway jockey Gerardo Corrales named to ride.
- $1 Super High 5: 12 with 10,11 with 10,11 with 1,4,6,8 with 1,4,5,6,8 ($32)
- $1 Super High 5: 12 with 10,11 with 1,4,6,8 with 10,11 with 1,4,5,6,8 ($32)