Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Mar. 12
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Friday, Mar. 12 at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Santa Anita, including a couple of exacta and trifecta tickets.
Fair Grounds: Race 7: Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles, 4:54 p.m. ET)
#2 Cantata (5-2) looked like a star in the making when winning her debut at Saratoga last summer by 10 1/4 lengths. But the Steve Asmussen-trained filly has only run twice since, finishing fifth in the Frizette (G1) and fifth in a Feb. 12 allowance optional claiming race at Fair Grounds.
The latter effort could be considered a disappointment since Cantata faded to finish eight lengths behind the winner. But Cantata was racing over a sloppy track, and if you assume she didn’t care for the footing, you can make a case for the stoutly bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro to bounce back in a big way on Friday. Don’t forget, Cantata sold for $950,000 as a yearling and is nominated to the Triple Crown, so her connections clearly hold her in high regard.
We’ll bet Cantata to win, then play her over #3 Minute Waltz (7-2) and #4 Zoom Up (9-5) in the exacta and trifecta.
$15 to win on #2 Cantata
$5 Exacta: 2 with 3,4 ($10)
$2.50 Trifecta: 2 with 3,4 with 3,4 ($5)
Oaklawn Park: Race 9: Allowance Optional Claiming (Six furlongs, 6:10 p.m. ET)
#4 K J’s Nobility (2-1) was in hot form at Oaklawn last year, compiling a 4-2-0-2 resume highlighted by a three-length victory in the Nodouble Breeders’ S. against fellow Arkansas-breds. The seven-year-old gelding recently returned from a layoff to finish fourth against open company in a six-furlong allowance sprint at Oaklawn, beaten just 1 3/4 lengths by the Grade 1-placed Mucho.
The latter effort produced a sharp 95 Brisnet Speed rating, just one point off K J’s Nobility’s career-best figure, so all signs suggest he’s poised for a winning effort while returning to the state-bred ranks. #2 Bandit Point (4-1), #3 Hoonani Road (9-2), #5 Tempt Fate (9-2), and #6 Man in the Can (5-2) can battle for the minor awards.
$22 to win on #4 K J’s Nobility
$2 Trifecta: 4 with 2,5,6 with 2,3,5,6 ($18)
Santa Anita: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/4 miles on turf, 6:45 p.m. ET)
#8 Disappearing Act (8-5) is a logical favorite after finishing second three times against maiden special weight company on turf, but you can argue 1 1/4 miles might be a bit beyond her best distance.
In contrast, #3 Lady Crocker (4-1) has the pedigree to relish this extended trip. A daughter of two-time Horse of the Year and stamina influence Curlin, Lady Crocker was produced by the Foxhound mare Foxysox, winner of the Santa Barbara H. (G2) racing 1 1/4 miles over the Santa Anita turf.
Lady Crocker didn’t run badly in her grass debut at Santa Anita last month, racing evenly to finish fifth in her first start off a 13-month layoff. If she takes a step forward on Friday, she can vie for victory at a fair price under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
$20 to win on #3 Lady Crocker
$10 Exacta: 3 with 8