Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Feb. 8
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Monday, Feb. 8, at Aqueduct and Mahoning Valley, including a trio of cold exactas.
Aqueduct: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (Seven furlongs, 1:20 p.m. ET)
#3 Will E Sutton (9-5) sold for $1 million as a yearling, so expectations will be high when he debuts on Monday at Aqueduct. A well-bred son of Curlin out of the stakes-placed Yes It’s True mare Yes Liz, Will E Sutton has shown speed in the mornings for trainer Jonathan Thomas, most notably blazing a bullet half-mile in :47 2/5 from the Belmont Park training track starting gate last month.
Since 2019, Thomas has compiled a solid 4-1-1-2 record with first-time starters over the Aqueduct main track, so it seems reasonable to expect a big effort from Will E Sutton right out of the gate.
Let’s bet Will E Sutton on top of a cold exacta. For second place, we’ll use his consistent stablemate #2 Nepotism (3-1), who hasn’t missed the trifecta in three starts.
$25 Exacta: 3 with 2
Aqueduct: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (One mile, 2:55 p.m. ET)
#6 O’Gotten Girl (4-5) and #1 Mo Desserts (6-5) finished second and third in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct last month, earning strong Brisnet Speed ratings that easily top Monday’s field. They should run 1-2 again, but this time around, I expect Mo Desserts to finish stronger.
After all, O’Gotten Girl is a daughter of Hopeful (G1) winner Competitive Edge out of a mare by Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Indian Charlie, which is a pedigree geared toward speed. In contrast, Mo Desserts is a daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist out of the Dynaformer mare Frozen Treat, who has previously produced the stakes-caliber route runners Catrageous, Ketel Twist, and Cool.
Throw in the fact trainer Jimmy Jerkens wins at a 30% rate with horses running long for the first time, and Mo Desserts appears poised to graduate in her route debut. We’ll play her on top of straight exacta and trifecta tickets using O’Gotten Girl and #5 Bravo Regina (8-1) for second and third place.
$20 Exacta: 1 with 6
$10 Trifecta: 1 with 6 with 5
Mahoning Valley: Race 2: Allowance (Six furlongs, 1:12 p.m. ET)
#1 Latin Spice (8-5) has placed multiple times at the stakes level and looms as a clear favorite while making her first local start for trainer Jason DaCosta. But in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, her stablemate #2 A Penn Legacy (3-1) has run slightly faster and looms as an intriguing alternative.
A daughter of the seven-time stakes-winning sprinter Cinco Charlie, A Penn Legacy fired off a big effort to break her maiden over 5 1/2 furlongs on Dec. 7 at Mahoning Valley. Carving out solid splits of :23.01 and :46.64, A Penn Legacy opened up an eight-length lead in midstretch before cruising to the wire five lengths clear.
A Penn Legacy earned a solid 79 Brisnet Speed rating, one point higher than Latin Spice’s career-best figure. While either filly is capable of prevailing on Monday, I’m tempted to favor A Penn Legacy. She’s been training sharply in preparation for her first start against winners, and DaCosta strikes at a solid 20% rate last-out maiden winners.
Let’s round out our day of cold exotic wagers by betting A Penn Legacy over Latin Spice in the exacta.
$25 exacta: 2 with 1