Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Jan. 19
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Tuesday, Jan. 19 at Mahoning Valley, Parx Racing, and Turf Paradise, including two plays designed to capitalize on the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion.
Mahoning Valley: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (1 mile, 12:45 p.m. ET)
#2 Most Sandisfactory (6-5) absolutely towers over this field from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective. Whereas none of her rivals have earned figures higher than 77, Most Sandisfactory has posted four straight figures in the 82-89 range.
Formerly based in Southern California, Most Sandisfactory recently took a spin over the main track at Mahoning Valley, rallying to finish second in a 6-furlong maiden special weight. Stretching back out in distance should suit Most Sandisfactory just fine, considering she hasn’t missed the trifecta in five starts running a mile or farther. Also encouraging is the fact trainer Jeffrey Skerrett wins at a 25% rate with horses transitioning from a sprint to a route.
In short, Most Sandisfactory should be difficult (or impossible?) to defeat on Tuesday. We’ll bet her on top in the trifecta while emphasizing #6 Divulgence (5-2) underneath.
$9 trifecta: 2 with 6 with 1,4 ($18)
$6 trifecta: 2 with 1,4 with 6 ($12)
Parx Racing: Race 9: Allowance Optional Claiming (1 mile and 70 yards, 4:01 p.m. ET)
#7 Optic Way (4-1) hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since 2019, but he’s cracked the trifecta in 20 of his 30 starts overall and enters off a series of sharp efforts at Monmouth Park. The 6-year-old gelding threw down a sharp 100 Brisnet Speed rating when finishing second by a nose in a one mile and 70-yard allowance race, and last time out he came home third in the 1 1/16-mile Dan Horn H.
Optic Way has been freshened since October, setting the stage for a sharp effort while returning to Parx. Optic Way boasts a solid 10-4-2-2 resume over the local oval, and jockey Mychel Sanchez (a 22% winner in route races) is slated to ride the speedy gelding. In a race without a ton of pace on paper, Optic Way has an opportunity to shake loose on an easy lead and spring a mild upset.
Keeping in mind that Optic Way does tend to finish second more often than not, we’ll take advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer and place a $10 win bet on Optic Way. If he settles for second place, we’ll get our money back.
$10 to win on #7 Optic Way
Turf Paradise: Race 8: $3,500 Claiming (5 furlongs, 5:58 p.m. ET)
#1 Coastline Sermon (4-1) never fired in a $12,500 claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs last month, trailing throughout in a disappointing performance. But if you draw a line through this no-show effort, Coastline Sermon’s form is quite appealing.
After all, the 4-year-old gelding has been competing with aplomb against tougher company than he’ll face at Turf Paradise. Three starts back he nabbed a $5,000 claiming race sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Cantebury by two lengths, putting up a sharp 76 Brisnet Speed rating. This followed the 77 he posted when finishing second in a similar 6 1/2-furlong event at Canterbury.
Dashing 5 furlongs should be perfect for Coastline Sermon, considering he boasts a 3-2-1-0 record over this trip on dirt. He has enough tactical speed to be forwardly placed from the outset, and trainer Ryan Bratcher has gone 11-for-46 (24%) at Turf Paradise since 2018.
Taking advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Coastline Sermon. Then we’ll play the son of Rousing Sermon on top of #8 Magic Journey (5-1) and #11 Bumblebee (3-1) in the exacta:
$10 to win on #1 Coastline Sermon
$5 exacta: 1 with 8,11 ($10)