Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Dec. 28

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December 27th, 2020

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Monday, Dec. 28, at Fair Grounds and Mahoning Valley. Two win bets and a trio of exacta plays are on tap.

Note that the Fair Grounds Late Pick 5 (Races 6-10) features a $25,137 carryover going into Monday's card.

Mahoning Valley Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 4:02 p.m. ET)

The experienced runners in this dirt dash for Ohio-breds don’t appear particularly formidable; many have lost 10 or more races in their lifetimes. Arguably the best is #2 Kittens Adair (9-5), runner-up over this class level and distance on Nov. 24 at Mahoning Valley. But even 6 furlongs appears to be pushing the limits of her stamina, so top jockey Sonny Leon will have his work cut out to bring Kittens Adair home on top.

With this in mind, why not consider the first-time starter #7 Call Me Quick (10-1)? It’s not every day you see an unraced 5-year-old gelding debut, but there are reasons to believe Call Me Quick can challenge. Since Monday’s field isn’t very deep, Call Me Quick won’t need a massive effort to factor. And the son of Family Calling has shown some potential in the mornings, breezing a bullet half-mile from the Mahoning starting gate in :48 3/5 on Dec. 2.

Let’s play Call Me Quick in a pair of small exactas with Kittens Adair. If he finishes first or second at 10-1, we’ll be rewarded with a solid payoff.

$12 exacta: 2 with 7
$8 exacta: 7 with 2
Total: $20

Fair Grounds: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:54 p.m. ET)

None of the 2-year-old fillies entered in this turf dash have reached the 82 Brisnet Speed rating plateau that stands as par for this class level and distance. #1 Special Assistant (5-2) and #8 Unwanted Input (3-1) have come close, but neither appears poised for a big jump forward on Monday.

As a result, #4 Bell Day (8-1) could be worth playing at a price. The daughter of Speightster has shown speed in two dirt starts on the Kentucky circuit, most recently coming home fifth in a 6-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs.

Bell Day isn’t particularly bred for turf, but if she handles the surface switch while racing on Lasix for the first time, she can step up and vie for victory at a fair price.

$20 to win on #4 Bell Day
$5 exacta: 4 with 1,8 ($10)
Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 8: Allowance Optional Claiming (6 furlongs, 5:23 p.m. ET)

#8 Coltonator (5-2) brings the best recent Brisnet Speed ratings to the equation, including a 91 posted when wiring a 6 1/2-furlong starter allowance race at Churchill Downs two starts back. The son of Congrats was much the best, scoring by 2 3/4 lengths over #1A Mister K (3-1).

Although Coltonator was subsequently beaten to fifth in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Churchill last month, his effort was better than it appears on paper. Facing a large and deep field, Coltonator appeared ready to roll at the top of the stretch, but ran up behind a wall of horses and never got a clear run.

With an unencumbered journey on Monday, Coltonator can bounce back to the winner’s circle. We’ll use Mr. K and #6 Verb (9-2) to round out the exacta.

$20 to win on #8 Coltonator
$5 exacta: 8 with 1,6 ($10)
Total: $30

Good luck!