Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Feb. 3
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Wednesday, Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds, including a 12-1 shot in the Fair Grounds finale.
Gulfstream Park: Race 1: $35,000 Maiden Claiming (Six furlongs, 1:10 p.m. ET)
#6 Gods Promise (9-2) has been competing against significantly tougher maiden special weight company than he’ll face on Saturday. After finishing fifth in his debut sprinting at Gulfstream Park West, Gods Promise knocked heads against some fast opponents in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Gulfstream. On that occasion, Gods Promise weakened to finish fifth behind next-out Holy Bull (G3) winner Greatest Honour.
Dropping down in class and distance should make Gods Promise formidable at a fair price. He’ll race with Lasix for the first time on Wednesday while picking up jockey Jose Ortiz, setting the stage for a career-best performance. Gods Promise is already fast enough to vie for victory from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, so even a small step forward can send him to the winner’s circle.
Logical favorites #2 Carrobio (5-2) and #3 Kantstaros (3-1) can round out the exotics.
$15 to win on #6 Gods Promise
$5 Exacta: 6 with 2,3 ($10)
$2.50 Trifecta: 6 with 2,3 with 2,3 ($5)
Fair Grounds: Race 7: $17,500 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles, 4:54 p.m. ET)
At first glance, #2 Pop a Choc (2-1) seems questionable to handle this 1 1/16-mile distance. After all, she boasts a 3-1-1-1 record sprinting and a 3-0-0-0 record running long.
But dig a little deeper, and Pop a Choc’s form becomes more appealing. She’s easily the fastest filly in the field from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, posting a trio of figures in the 91-96 range against maiden and allowance company in New York last summer. Plus, two of her disappointing efforts running long came on turf.
Pop a Choc has been freshened since fading to finish fourth in a one-mile allowance race at Belmont early last fall. The Mark Casse-trained filly has been training strongly for her return and looks like the “speed of the speed” in Wednesday’s test. I’m optimistic she’ll lead all the way and win for fun.
We’ll place a $10 win bet on Pop a Choc, and thanks to the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll get our money back if she finishes second. We’ll also play Pop a Choc over #4 Sweet Blindness (4-1) in a cold exacta.
$10 to win on #2 Pop a Choc
$10 Exacta: 2 with 4
Fair Grounds: Race 9: $5,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:52 p.m. ET)
Granted, #2 Adrenaline (12-1) hasn’t been in winning form as of late. The five-year-old gelding last visited the winner’s circle in Dec. 2019 and has been beaten by double-digit margins in his last six starts.
But Adrenaline has been squaring off against much tougher company than he’ll face on Wednesday. Last time out, he carved out fast fractions of :21.85 and :45.54 in a $15,000 claiming race before understandably tiring down the lane.
There isn’t a ton of speed in Wednesday’s field, so Adrenaline may be able to shake loose on an easier lead. Setting a slower pace while dropping in class might be all Adrenaline needs to bounce back with a big effort at a lofty price.
Capitalizing on the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Adrenaline. Then we’ll play him in a couple of small exactas with logical favorite #5 Cat On the Roof (5-2).
$10 to win on #2 Adrenaline
$7 Exacta: 5 with 2
$3 Exacta: 2 with 5