Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Feb. 11
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Thursday, Feb. 11 at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, including a trio of $10 win bets capitalizing on the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion.
Editor Note: Turfway Park has cancelled racing for Thursday, Feb. 11 due to inclement weather conditions.
Fair Grounds: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 5:23 p.m. ET)
With rain in the forecast for Fair Grounds, there’s a strong chance this 5 1/2-furlong turf dash will be transferred to the main track, in which case #13 Shockingly (7-2) would become the horse to beat.
A daughter of Kentucky Derby winner and hot young sire Nyquist, Shockingly has posted a bevy of fast workouts in preparation for her debut. The Bret Calhoun-trained three-year-old most notably fired off five furlongs from the Fair Grounds starting gate in a bullet :59 2/5 on Jan. 27.
A muddy track on Thursday shouldn’t bother Shockingly in the slightest. Nyquist sires a lofty 22% winners in the mud, and Shockingly’s half-brother, Apollo Kentucky, won the Tokyo Daishoten (a National Association of Racing Group 1) over a muddy track at Oi Racecourse in Japan. Also, drawing an outside post should help Shockingly receive a clean trip free of kickback.
We’ll kick things off by placing a $10 win bet on Shockingly; if she finishes second, we’ll get our money back through the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer. Then we’ll key Shockingly on top of a trifecta, and if we hit, we’ll earn a 15% bonus (up to $25) thanks to the TwinSpires Trifecta Thursdays promotion.
$10 to win on #13 Shockingly
50-cent Trifecta: 13 with 5,11 with 1,5,8,11,12,15 ($5)
50-cent Trifecta: 13 with 1,5,8,11,12,15 with 5,11 ($5)
Turfway Park: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (One mile, 8:16 p.m. ET)
#9 Nineeleventurbo (8-5) is unlucky not to be a maiden winner already. The Mike Maker trainee has cracked the trifecta in all four of his starts on the Kentucky circuit, including a pair of a runner-up efforts racing a mile at Turfway.
Two starts back, Nineeleventurbo was compromised by a slow pace when rallying fast to miss by a half-length. His most recent effort displayed a change in tactics, as Nineeleventurbo tracked a slightly quicker pace before settling for second behind a late-running winner.
We’ll definitely play to the strengths of the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer and place a $10 win bet on Nineeleventurbo.
In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Nineeleventurbo has only one rival to fear: #2 Win d’Oro (2-1), who makes his Tapeta debut following a couple of third-place efforts on dirt at Fair Grounds. If Win d’Oro struggles with the surface switch, Nineeleventurbo can graduate for fun. If Win d’Oro relishes the footing, Nineeleventurbo can round out the exacta, prompting a refund on our win bet.
$10 to win on #9 Nineeleventurbo
$5 Exacta box: 2,9 ($10)
Turfway Park: Race 7: Allowance (One mile, 9:16 p.m. ET)
I can certainly understand why #10 Invader (9-5) is a clear favorite on the morning line. Conditioned by Turfway’s leading trainer Wesley Ward, Invader showed plenty of promise as a three-year-old at Turfway last season, dominating the John Battaglia Memorial by 6 1/4 lengths before finishing second by a neck in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).
But Invader hasn’t run in 11 months and has never squared off against older horses. He’s also yet to race over Turfway’s newly installed Tapeta track, since his fine efforts last year came over the old Polytrack course.
With these concerns in mind, why not take a shot with #7 Noren (4-1)? The son of Into Mischief is two-for-two over the Turfway Tapeta, using his front-running speed to win six-furlong maiden and allowance races. Stretching out over a mile is a question mark, but Noren may have the speed to shake loose on an easy lead for hot trainer William Morey, who has gone 10-for-35 (29%) at Turfway this winter.
Taking advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Noren—that way, if he settles for second, we’ll get our money back. Then we’ll play him in the exacta with Invader and hope they run 1-2 in either order.
$10 to win on #7 Noren
$3 Exacta: 7 with 10
$7 Exacta: 10 with 7