Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Feb. 4
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Thursday, Feb. 4 at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Turfway Park, including a pair of trifectas capitalizing on the TwinSpires Trifecta Thursdays offer.
Fair Grounds: Race 4: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (One mile on turf, 3:27 p.m. ET)
#2 Man On the Moon (9-2) didn’t run badly over this course, distance, and class level on Jan. 8. Sent off at 6-1 in his first start for trainer Al Stall, the son of Distorted Humor raced wide around the turns while rating in midpack, then ran on evenly to finish fourth by 4 1/2 lengths.
That race was conducted over a rain-dampened course, so Man On the Moon is eligible to improve while tackling firm footing on Thursday. Keep in mind, Stall strikes at a 22% rate with second-time turf starters, and at a 40% race with horses racing on Lasix for the second time.
Let’s play a trifecta boxing Man on the Moon in the first two slots with #1 Ames Mister (7-2), who has finished second twice at this class level. If we cash, we’ll earn a 15% bonus (up to $25) through the Trifecta Thursdays promotion.
$3 Trifecta: 1,2 with 1,2 with 4,6,7,9 ($24)
Oaklawn Park: Race 7: $80,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (One mile, 5:09 p.m. ET)
#2 Snapper Sinclair (6-5) is going to be a heavy favorite after finishing second in the Cigar Mile (G1), a neck in front of next-out graded stakes winner Performer. Dropping from Grade 1 company into an allowance optional claiming event figures to make Snapper Sinclair formidable at a short price.
But the Cigar Mile wasn’t the toughest race, featuring just six starters (none of them previous Grade 1 winners) running over a sloppy track. It’s also worth noting Snapper Sinclair hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since Aug. 2019. He’s certainly a logical contender to finish in the money on Thursday, but he might not be the most trustworthy 6-5 favorite you’ll ever find.
Instead, let’s take a shot with #6 Plainsman (5-2). Winner of the 2018 Discovery (G3), Plainsman has only run six times since then during a career dotted by layoffs. But the son of Flatter has shown signs of life since returning to the care of trainer Brad Cox last fall, most recently coming home fourth in the Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial S. after tracking quick fractions set by multiple stakes winner Hunka Burning Love.
Cox has gone 8-for-21 (38%) at Oaklawn this winter, and jockey Florent Geroux has been similarly hot with a 12-for-35 (34%) record. Plainsman has training sharply, cranking out a bullet five furlongs in :59 4/5 on Jan. 22, so I’m optimistic he’ll produce his best effort in a long time on Thursday.
Let’s place a $10 win bet on Plainsman; thanks to the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll get our money back if he finishes second. Then let’s add a small trifecta ticket to the mix, playing Plainsman on top of Snapper Sinclair for the top two slots.
$10 to win on #6 Plainsman
$2 Trifecta: 6 with 2 with 1,4,5 ($6)
Turfway Park: Race 2: $7,500 Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 6:46 p.m. ET)
#4 Rivers of Lite (9-2) ran just fine over this class level in a six-furlong sprint at Turfway last month, his first start over a synthetic course. After tracking the pace and advancing to challenge, Rivers of Lite stayed on gamely down the stretch to finish third, beaten just 1 1/2 lengths.
The quality of this effort was reiterated when runner-up Pull Me Back returned to win his next start against slightly easier company. In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Rivers of Lite fits well in Thursday’s field, so a trip to the winner’s circle should be within reach.
Capitalizing on the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Rivers of Lite. Then we’ll box him with the class-dropping #1 U S Delta Force in the exacta.
$10 to win on #4 Rivers of Lite
$5 Exacta box: 1,4 ($10)