Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 26

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January 26th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park and Turfway Park, along with horses to single in the $1,059 Pick 6 carryover at Fair Grounds.

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

Gulfstream Park: Race 6: $20,000 Starter Optional Claiming (one mile, 2:38 p.m. ET)

#6 Battle Cry (4-5) has won three straight races and was tons the best in a contest over this track, distance, and class level on Dec. 11, leading all the way to dominate by 9 1/2 lengths. That runaway victory produced a career-best 93 Brisnet Speed rating.

Trainer Victor Barboza Jr. strikes at an excellent 25% rate when saddling last-out winners, so we’ll count on Battle Cry to impress again on Thursday. We’ll single her to kick off a double wager.


  • #6 Battle Cry (4-5)
  • #3 American Tap (4-1)
  • #1 Rose E Holiday (5-1)


  • $15 Double: 6 with 9

Gulfstream Park: Race 7: $62,500 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile on turf, 3:07 p.m. ET)

There are many viable contenders in this large field, but we’ll throw our support behind #9 White Frost (3-1). The daughter of Candy Ride won the Sweetest Chant (G3) over this course and distance two years ago, counting next-out graded stakes winners Con Lima and Domain Expertise among her beaten rivals.

White Frost has only run once since then, finishing a closing second in the November 2021 Winter Memories S. at Aqueduct. But trainer Bill Mott wins at a 20% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and White Frost is adding Lasix for the first time (a 22% winning move for Mott), so White Frost figures to fire a competitive shot in her return.

We’ll bet White Frost to win, key her on top in an exacta, and single her to conclude our double wager.


  • #9 White Frost (3-1)
  • #7 Miss Delicious (15-1)
  • #3 Paris Peacock (6-1)


  • $15 to win on #9 White Frost
  • $5 Exacta: 9 with 3,7 ($10)
    Total: $25

Turfway Park: Race 6: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 8:25 p.m. ET)

#8 B G Warrior (3-1) is an obvious win threat after leading from start to finish in the six-furlong Gowell S. at Turfway last month. Even though she was disqualified and placed second for causing interference, it was still a fine run.

But B G Warrior will have to be sharp to defeat #7 Bobbie Sox (5-2), who trounced a Jan. 5 maiden special weight over this track and distance by 6 3/4 lengths. The 84 Brisnet Speed rating Bobbie Sox posted is higher than B G Warrior’s career-best 82 rating, and trainer Reina Gonzalez has compiled an excellent 9-3-2-2 (33%) record at Turfway since Nov. 30.

Let’s key Bobbie Sox over B G Warrior and #10 Murky (9-2) in the exacta.


  • #7 Bobbie Sox (5-2)
  • #8 B G Warrior (3-1)
  • #10 Murky (9-2)


  • $10 Exacta: 7 with 8,10 ($20)

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds, Race 3: $1,059 Pick 6 carryover (3:15 p.m. ET)

Get ready, bettors. The racing week at Fair Grounds kicks off with a $1,059 non-jackpot carryover up for grabs in the $1 Pick 6.

Looking for singles to build tickets around? We’ve identified a pair of possibilities:

Race 4: $20,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs): #1 Hooray Austin (7-5)

Hooray Austin has been sharp in a trio of recent starts over this track, distance, and class level. After rallying to finish second on Nov. 24 and second again on Dec. 15, he charged from sixth place to first and visited the winner’s circle on Jan. 5.

These efforts produced sharp Brisnet Speed ratings of 82, 89, and 86, putting Hooray Austin in the hunt for victory against Thursday’s field. The fact he rallies from off the pace can be viewed as a positive, considering pacesetters went 1-for-17 (6%) in six-furlong dirt sprints at Fair Grounds from Jan. 16-22. Throw in hot jockey Reylu Gutierrez (a 23% winner at Fair Grounds this meet), and Hooray Austin looms as a logical single.

Race 5: $80,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile and 70 yards): #2 Warrant (4-5)

Warrant should be tough to deny while dropping in class for this two-turn allowance test. The five-year-old chestnut has hit the board in seven consecutive graded stakes, most notably winning the Oklahoma Derby (G3) and finishing second by a head in the Santa Anita H. (G1). Along the way, Warrant has posted six straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 93-104 range, including the four highest ratings owned by any horse in Thursday’s field.

Warrant hasn’t started since finishing third in the July 9 Cornhusker H. (G3), but he breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at Fair Grounds last week and is conditioned by red-hot trainer Brad Cox, a 37% winner at Fair Grounds who strikes 23% of the time with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more. Add in hot jockey Florent Geroux (a 35% winner teaming up with Cox over the last two months), and Warrant looks ready to roll as a short-priced single.

Good luck!