Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of the day for Dec. 27

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December 27th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Dec. 27 at Fair Grounds and Santa Anita, plus a horse to key in a pair of mandatory-payout carryovers at Hawthorne.

Picks and Plays

Fair Grounds: Race 6: Letellier Memorial S. (six furlongs, 4:24 p.m. ET)

#5 Com’ On Sweet Luv (3-1) showed promise in her debut at Indiana Grand, finishing second behind future two-time stakes winner Optionality. The daughter of Jimmy Creed subsequently shipped to Fair Grounds and proved much the best in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Nov. 27, tracking the pace before taking command to win easily by 2 3/4 lengths.

This impressive victory produced an 88 Brisnet Speed rating, one of the highest figures in the Letellier Memorial field. A repeat figures to place Com’ On Sweet Luv in win contention for hot trainer Brad Cox.

#3 Girl With a Dream (5-2) and #6 Microbiome (3-1) can complete the exacta and trifecta.

  • $15 to win on #5 Com’ On Sweet Luv
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 3,6 ($10)
  • $2.50 Trifecta: 5 with 3,6 with 3,6 ($5)
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 10: Sugar Bowl S. (six furlongs, 6:22 p.m. ET)

#9 Higher Standard (3-1) was a dominant debut winner dashing 5 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs, tracking a hot pace before drawing off to win by 5 3/4 lengths. The son of Into Mischief then produced a game effort in the six-furlong Advent S. at Oaklawn Park, finishing second by a length against four-time graded stakes competitor Kavod.

These efforts produced back-to-back 86 Brisnet Speed ratings, stamping Higher Standard as a logical contender in the Sugar Bowl. He has the tactical speed to be prominent from the outset and will be ridden by James Graham, a 24% winner when teaming up with hot trainer Tom Amoss.

Let’s bet Higher Standard to win and play him over #2 Kaely’s Brother (6-1) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #9 Higher Standard
  • $10 Exacta: 9 with 2
    Total: $30

Santa Anita: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on turf, 3:00 p.m. ET)

There’s a strong chance this two-turn test for juvenile fillies will be transferred to the main track, in which case #9 I Got a Gal (6-1) would be a key contender for victory.

A daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up and successful sire Pioneerof the Nile, I Got a Gal is bred to shine on dirt and brings an abundance of tactical speed to the table. Two starts back, she tracked a hot pace on her way to finishing second in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita.

There isn’t much pace in Monday’s field, so I Got a Gal may shake loose on an uncontested lead while stretching out in distance. She enters off a pair of bullet workouts and will add blinkers for her route debut, setting the stage for a winning performance.

We’ll bet I Got a Gal to win and call it a day.

  • $30 to win on #9 I Got a Gal

Carryover Watch

Hawthorne, Race 4: $7,396 Pick 6 mandatory payout (3:25 p.m. ET)
Hawthorne, Race 9: $30,982 Super High 5 mandatory payout (5:55 p.m. ET)

Monday is closing day at Hawthorne, which means a pair of jackpot-style carryovers are slated for mandatory dispersal. The 20-cent Pick 6 carries a relatively modest $7,396 prize pool, while the 20-cent Super High 5 boasts a considerably heftier $30,982 pot.

Both carryovers come to a head in Race 9, a $5,000 claimer for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on dirt. A dozen runners have been entered, which means the Super High 5 features 95,040 possible outcomes before scratches—not exactly the type of wager you can hit in your sleep. But at least the 20-cent minimum makes playing a lot of combinations affordable.

The key to the carryovers might be using #1 Almafuerte (3-1) on top in the Super High 5 and as a single in the Pick 6. The six-year-old mare hasn’t missed the board in 10 starts this season and boasts an impressive 43-10-14-5 record overall, so it’s safe to call her a picture of consistency.

Almafuerte has tactical speed combined with tractability, assets she put to good use in a $6,250 claimer at Hawthorne last month. After tracking the pace from second place, Almafuerte rallied to win by a neck with a 71 Brisnet Speed rating.

In addition to her strong form lines, Almafuerte has the connections to succeed on Monday. Trainer Ralph Martinez has been ultra-hot at Hawthorne this meet, going 6-for-15 (40%), and jockey Edgar Perez is 2-for-2 teaming up with Martinez over the last two months. If Almafuerte brings her A-game while dropping down the class ladder, she can battle to victory as the key to our winning tickets.

Underneath Almafuerte, a handful of runners in outside posts appear to have the best chance at garnering minor awards. #8 New Rules (6-1), #9 First Squadron (9-2), #10 Her Gold Mine (5-1), and #11 Five Queens (15-1) all have the form lines and Brisnet Speed ratings to factor on their best days.

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

  • 20-cent Super High 5: 1 with 8,9,10,11 with 8,9,10,11 with 8,9,10,11 with ALL ($38.40)

Good luck!