Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Mar. 11

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March 11th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Thursday, Mar. 11 at Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, and Oaklawn Park.

Thursday’s promotional offers from TwinSpires include the Winter Midweek Bet Back (receive a refund up to $10 on win bets in select races) and the Trifecta Thursdays bonus (earn 15% extra, up to $25, on winning trifecta payoffs).

Fair Grounds: Race 6: Allowance (Six furlongs, 4:25 p.m. ET)

#2 Blameworthy (7-2) faltered when stretching out over 1 1/16 miles last month, but two starts back, the son of Blame threw down a field-high 95 Brisnet Speed rating when wiring a six-furlong maiden dash at Fair Grounds. The strength of his performance was reiterated when the next three horses across the finish line (Run Classic, Warrant, and Ottothelegend) came back to win.

Cutting back to six furlongs should work wonders for Blameworthy. Trainer Christopher Davis wins at a lofty 28% rate with horses transitioning from routes to sprints, and Blameworthy’s front-running speed should be an asset since 40% of six-furlong sprints at Fair Grounds are won in gate-to-wire fashion.

We’ll bet Blameworthy to win, then play him on top of exacta and trifecta tickets using #3 He’s in Charge (9-5) and #4 Shackleford Strong (2-1) underneath.

$20 to win on #2 Blameworthy
$6 Exacta: 2 with 3,4 ($12)
$4 Trifecta: 2 with 3,4 with 3,4 ($8)
Total: $40

Gulfstream Park: Race 8: Allowance Optional Claiming (One mile, 4:44 p.m. ET)

Triple Crown nominee #6 Prevalence (4-5) is bound to be an odds-on favorite after crushing his debut sprinting seven furlongs at Gulfstream. The stoutly bred son of Medaglia d’Oro drew off under the lightest of hand rides to win by 8 1/2 lengths, earning a field-best 94 Brisnet Speed rating.

But Prevalence came down with a temperature at the end of February, forcing him to miss a scheduled run in either the Fountain of Youth (G2) or a 1 1/8-mile allowance race. He’s bounced back with a couple of encouraging workouts, but the fact Thursday’s heat wasn’t Prevalence’s original goal—coupled with the fact he’s coming off an illness—makes me hesitant to fully trust him at 4-5.

Instead, let’s take a shot betting #2 Caxambas Candy (9-2), who ran deceptively well to win his debut over this track and distance on Feb. 17. After hesitating at the start, Caxambas Candy rushed back up the rail to reach contention, but then got boxed in behind the leaders and had to wait in traffic around the turn. When an opening appeared at the top of the stretch, Caxambas Candy shot through confidently and forged clear under a vigorous hand ride to win by 4 3/4 lengths.

Caxambas Candy posted a solid 88 Brisnet Speed rating, not too far off the figure earned by Prevalance, so let’s take a shot betting Caxambas Candy to win and keying him on top in a trifecta.

$10 to win on #2 Caxambas Candy
$2.50 Trifecta: 2 with 6 with 1,3,4,5 ($10)
Total: $20

Oaklawn Park: Race 4: Allowance (1 1/16 miles, 3:33 p.m. ET)

#8 Too Pretty (5-1) has been compromised by slow starts in her last two runs, and both were fast-paced sprints shorter than she prefers. Too Pretty’s form around two turns is significantly better; in a one-mile maiden race at Oaklawn three starts back, she led for essentially the entire journey to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Thursday’s morning line favorite, #3 Lovely Lou (3-1).

This effort produced a field-best 81 Brisnet Speed rating, so Too Pretty is eligible for a rebound while back stretching out in distance for her second start of the season. Taking advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Too Pretty, then play her over Lovely Lou in a small exacta.

$10 to win on #8 Too Pretty
$5 Exacta: 8 with 3
Total: $15

Good luck!