Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Feb. 9
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise, including two win bets taking advantage of the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion.
Mahoning Valley: Race 6: Allowance (6 furlongs, 3:04 p.m. ET)
#7 Lexy Anna (2-1) has hit the board in her last five starts, including four runs over Tuesday’s class level. But six furlongs is pressing the stamina limits of this pure front runner, who is lining up against several speedy rivals. An easy lead is unlikely to be in the offing.
Assuming a contested pace unfolds, #1 Tap the Town (4-1) can steal the show. Two starts back, the daughter of Cowtown Cat rallied nicely to win a six-furlong maiden special weight at Mahoning Valley in comfortable fashion. She’s posted Brisnet Speed ratings similar to Lexy Anna and should enjoy a ground-saving trip from the rail draw.
Capitalizing on the Winter Midweek Bet Back, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Tap the Town and get our money back if she finishes second. Then we’ll play her in a straight exacta over Lexy Anna.
- $10 to win on #1 Tap the Town
- $10 Exacta: 1 with 7
- Total: $20
Mahoning Valley: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (Six furlongs, 3:33 p.m. ET)
#2 Gun Factor (5-2) has been training forwardly for his debut, and trainer Rey Hernandez has been on fire at Mahoning Valley, going 6-for-14 (43%) over the last few months. Leading jockey Sonny Leon takes the mount, stamping Gun Factor as an obvious favorite.
But Hernandez strikes at just a 9% rate with first-time starters, so Gun Factor might need to get a race under his belt before delivering a peak effort. Keep in mind, Gun Factor is a half-brother to the two-time stakes-winning router Far Right, so running a mile or farther might wind up being his true forte.
With this in mind, we’ll take a shot against Gun Factor with #3 Just U and Me Kid (3-1). The son of Upstart hasn’t missed the board in four starts, including a runner-up effort over this track and distance on Dec. 9. In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, he’s the fastest of the experienced runners in Tuesday’s field, and racing on Lasix for the first time could trigger a step forward.
We’ll continue to pursue the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer by placing a $10 win bet on Just U and Me Kid. Then we’ll play him on top of a small exacta using Gun Factor and the other first-time starter #7 Epimythium (6-1) for second place.
- $10 to win on #3 Just U and Me Kid
- $5 Exacta: 3 with 2,7
- Total: $20
Turf Paradise: Race 6: $15,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (One mile, 4:53 p.m. ET)
Former Southern California runner #1 Big Barrel (6-1) has been posting competitive Brisnet Speed ratings, including an 84 when finishing second over this track and distance on Jan. 4. Less than two weeks later, Big Barrel ran evenly to finish third in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths with a 79 Brisnet Speed rating.
Big Barrel was claimed out of the latter race by trainer Dan McFarlane, who wins at a lofty 44% rate with new claiming acquisitions. A quick five-furlong workout on Jan. 29 signals Big Barrel is ready for another sharp effort while stretching back out over one mile.
Let’s bet Big Barrel to win and play him in a straight exacta over logical favorite #3 Dopo Lavoro (2-1), a winner over this track and distance last month for high-percentage trainer Justin Evans.
- $10 to win on #1 Big Barrel
- $10 Exacta: 1 with 3
- Total: $20