Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 9

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January 9th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Jan. 9 at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise, including a couple of trifectas.

Picks and Plays

Mahoning Valley: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 1:41 p.m. ET)

First-time starter #7 Liam’s Quality (3-1) has been training at Horseshoe Indianapolis for Aaron West, a respectable 13% winner with debuting runners and a 29% winner at Mahoning Valley since 2020. Liam’s Quality has put together a flashy work tab highlighted by a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 2/5, and he isn’t facing the toughest field on Monday, so we’ll count on him to take home top honors.

The similarly unraced #5 Danzing Chick (5-2) can complete the exacta for trainer Jason DaCosta, a 23% winner with first-time starters.


  • #7 Liam’s Quality (3-1)
  • #5 Danzing Chick (5-2)
  • #1 Taboo Hoo (7-2)


  • $20 to win on #7 Liam’s Quality
  • $10 Exacta: 7 with 5
    Total: $30

Turf Paradise: Race 6: $30,000 Maiden Optional Claiming (one mile on turf, 4:15 p.m. ET)

Southern California raider #1 Lookintogeteven (8-5) has cracked the trifecta in four of her last six starts, including a couple of maiden special weights. Along the way, she’s posted consistent (and competitive) Brisnet Speed ratings in the 75-84 range.

Lookintogeteven might be an 0-for-23 maiden, but squaring off against easier competition at Turf Paradise looks like a recipe for success under hot jockey Harry Hernandez, the clear-cut leading rider by wins this meet.

#6 Barbie Wars (9-5) is a logical choice for second place after cracking the trifecta in three consecutive starts over this course and class level. #7 Golden Sun Drops (5-1) finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Barbie Wars last time out and can round out the top three.


  • #1 Lookintogeteven (8-5)
  • #6 Barbie Wars (9-5)
  • #7 Golden Sun Drops (5-1)


  • $20 Exacta: 1 with 6
  • $10 Trifecta: 1 with 6 with 7
    Total: $30

Turf Paradise: Race 8: Bell of the Ball S. (one mile, 5:09 p.m. ET)

#6 Joy in the Battle (5-2) is the morning line favorite after recording four consecutive victories, but three of those wins came on turf (a surface over which she’s 4-for-6), and her 1-for-9 record on dirt is a bit less inspiring.

In contrast, #5 Tiz a Macho Girl (9-2) has won her last three dirt starts with sharp Brisnet Speed ratings. She dominated the Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs by 6 1/4 lengths and more recently nabbed an allowance optional claimer racing one mile at Turf Paradise.

#7 Miss Hard Knocks (7-2) is another viable threat. She ran second to Joy in the Battle on turf last time out, but two starts back she won a one-mile allowance optional claimer at Turf Paradise.

Let’s bet Tiz a Macho Girl over Joy in the Battle and Miss Hard Knocks in the exacta and trifecta.


  • #5 Tiz a Macho Girl (9-2)
  • #7 Miss Hard Knocks (7-2)
  • #6 Joy in the Battle (5-2)


  • $10 Exacta: 5 with 6,7 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 5 with 6,7 with 6,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Good luck!