Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Feb. 12

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February 12th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Friday, Feb. 12 at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, and Tampa Bay Downs, focusing on a trio of intriguing maiden races.

Gulfstream Park: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (6 1/2 furlongs, 3:41 p.m. ET)

Trainer Chad Brown holds a strong hand with #3 Secret Potion (5-2) and #6 Value Creation (2-1), the two favorites on the morning line. But Secret Potion is switching to dirt after going 0-for-3 on turf, and Value Creation is a three-year-old male debuting over the Gulfstream main track, a winning move just 17% of the time for Brown.

An intriguing alternative to the favorites is #2 Summer Sermon (12-1), who flashed tactical speed in his debut at Gulfstream before weakening to finish eighth. It turns out the field was deep, producing future Sam F. Davis (G3) winner Candy Man Rocket plus the next-out maiden winner Promise Keeper.

Summer Sermon might not be the most likely winner of Friday’s maiden heat, but if he takes a step forward out of his challenging debut, he can outrun expectations at a big price. Let’s key Summer Sermon in the exacta with the Chad Brown trainees.

$6 Exacta: 3,6 with 2 ($12)
$4 Exacta: 2 with 3,6 ($8)
Total: $20

Santa Anita: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (Six furlongs, 4:03 p.m. ET)

Bob Baffert’s #3 Reem (2-1) squared off against some tough fillies in two starts at Santa Anita last winter. After finishing third in her debut (just one length behind the future Grade 1-placed stakes winner Merneith), Reem improved in her second start to gain the runner-up spot behind stablemate Gamine, who went on to be voted champion female sprinter of 2020.

Reem has been training up a storm in preparation for her return. Three of her last four workouts have been bullets, capped off by a swift five furlongs in :59 2/5. If she shows any improvement at all in her first start as a four-year-old, Reem can win for fun over #2 Bye Bye Miss Pie (8-5), #7 Angel of Freedom (4-1), and #1 Rattrapante (6-1).

$5 Trifecta: 3 with 2,7 with 1,2,7 ($20)

Tampa Bay Downs: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (Seven furlongs, 3:18 p.m. ET)

Since 2018, trainer Christophe Clement has compiled an otherworldly 5-for-6 (83%) record debuting three-year-olds in dirt sprints at Tampa Bay Downs. With this formidable statistic in mind, how can we possibly oppose Clement’s #2 Flying With Angels (2-1) in Friday’s maiden heat at Tampa?

Sold for $500,000, the sophomore son of Ghostzapper was produced by the stakes-placed mare Liza Too, previously the dam of the two-time stakes-winning sprinter Long Weekend. Flying With Angels has put together a lengthy series of workouts at Payson Park and should be primed for a sharp effort on debut. Christophe has been hot at Tampa this winter, going 6-for-18 (33%), and leading jockey Samy Camacho is slated to ride.

#5 Dreaming of Gerry (3-1), twice placed at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, can round out the exacta.

$25 to win on #2 Flying With Angels
$10 Exacta: 2 with 5
Total: $35

Good luck!