Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Jan. 5
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Tuesday, Jan. 5 at Delta Downs and Parx Racing, including a trifecta ticket for the $60,000 Orleans S.
Delta Downs: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 furlongs, 3:43 p.m. ET)
There are several promising first-time starters in this 5-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies, with #1 Pi Yo Princess (9-5) looming as the best of the lot. A daughter of Cairo Prince, who sires a solid 13% winners from first-time starters, Pi Yo Princess was produced by the Roman Ruler mare Dream Regime, who has already foaled four winners from four starters.
Trainer Tom Amoss has been on fire at Delta Downs, going 6-for-16 (38%) to start the meet, and over the last five years he’s won at a 32% clip with first-time starters at Delta. Certainly Pi Yo Princess looks ready to fire a strong shot on debut—she’s shown speed in the mornings, most recently clocking a bullet half-mile in :48 3/5 at Delta.
With hot jockey Diego Saenz (a 46% winner when teaming up with Amoss) in the saddle, Pi Yo Princess is a deserving favorite. We’ll bet her to win and play her in the exacta with #2 Sarahs Home (6-1) and fellow first-time starter #10 Avabell (5-1), who hails from the hot barn of Karl Broberg.
$20 to win on #1 Pi Yo Princess
$5 exacta: 1 with 2,10 ($10)
Delta Downs: Race 8: Orleans S. (5 furlongs, 5:07 p.m. ET)
Although speed horses typically excel in 5-furlong sprints at Delta Downs, there are so many front-running types entered in the Orleans S., there’s a strong chance the race will unfold at a blazing tempo detrimental to forwardly placed runners.
That’s why I’m tempted to side with #2 Misty Day (9-2). While she’s shown flashes of tactical speed in the past, Misty Day has thrived since adopting late-running tactics, winning four of her last five starts for high-percentage trainer Victor Arceneaux. She was particularly impressive in a 5-furlong allowance race at Delta Downs last month, charging from just behind the leaders to score by 5 1/4 lengths with a career-best 91 Brisnet Speed rating.
Arceneaux trainees win at a phenomenal 44% rate in ungraded stakes races, and jockey Diego Saenz has gone 2-for-4 (50%) teaming up with Arceneaux over the last 60 days. In short, Misty Day looks like a great play at 9-2.
$18 to win on #2 Misty Day
$1 trifecta: 2 with 1,3,6,9 with 1,3,6,9 ($12)
Parx Racing: Race 9: Allowance Optional Claiming (1 mile, 4:01 p.m. ET)
#7 Dreams Untold (7-2) has shown flashes of significant talent for hot trainer John Servis, a 23% winner at Parx. Though he’s failed to make an impact in three stakes attempts, slow starts and troubled trips compromised his chances on a couple of occasions.
Against non-stakes company, Dreams Untold boasts a solid 6-4-1-1 resume, including a trio of victories at Parx. Tactical enough to be prominent from the outset, but versatile enough to settle off the lead if necessary, Dreams Untold should appreciate dropping in class to face fellow Pennsylvania-breds on Tuesday.
The one question mark is the one-mile distance, since Dreams Untold has been campaigned primarily as a sprinter. But Dreams Untold’s lone run over a mile yielded a better-than-it-looked fifth in the Miracle Wood S. at Laurel, a race in which Dreams Untold stumbled badly at the start before making a huge mid-race move to reach contention. We can’t blame him for flattening out after such a challenging trip.
With a clean break on Tuesday, Dreams Untold can bounce back to the winner’s circle at a nice price.
$20 to win on #7 Dreams Untold
$5 exacta: 7 with 5,6 ($10)