Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Mar. 16

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March 16th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Tuesday, Mar. 16 at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise, including a trio of $10 win bets taking advantage of the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion.

Mahoning Valley: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:36 p.m. ET)

In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, #9 Makescentstous (2-1) is easily the horse to beat in this maiden sprint for sophomore fillies. In her debut at Belterra Park last August, the daughter of Goldencents produced a sharp late rally to finish second by less than a length, earning a 78 Brisnet Speed rating. The strength of her effort was reiterated when third-place finisher Sister Lulu returned to romp in her next start against similar company.

Makescentstous hasn’t run in seven months, but a bullet half-mile workout in :47 2/5 on Mar. 8 suggests she’s ready to fire a big effort in her return for hot trainer Eric Reed. Makescentstous will also add Lasix and retain the services of leading jockey Sonny Leon, two more positive factors in her favor.

In addition to our $10 win bet, we’ll play Makesscentstous on top of #7 Caltha (4-1), #8 Road to Quality (6-1), and #10 First Kitten (5-2) in the trifecta.

  • $10 to win on #9 Makesscentstous
  • $2.50 Trifecta: 9 with 7,8,10 with 7,8,10 ($15)
  • Total: $25

Mahoning Valley: Race 7: $5,000 Claiming (Six furlongs, 3:33 p.m. ET)

#4 Riding in the Wind (8-5) is generally a standout from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, but the eight-year-old veteran took a step backward in his most recent start, finishing fifth over a muddy track. Dropping down from $10,000 to $5,000 claiming company should help Riding in the Wind’s chances, but if he regresses again on Tuesday, #2B Flint Corn (12-1) can steal the show.

A four-year-old gelding with potential for upside, Flint Corn hasn’t missed the trifecta in his last three sprint starts, all over six furlongs at Mahoning Valley. He was particularly sharp in a $6,500 claiming race for non-winners of three races lifetime on Feb. 16, exploding from off the pace to dominate by 3 3/4 lengths.

Sonny Leon is named to ride for hot trainer Alejandro Murillo Rodriguez, who strikes at a 29% with last-out winners. At 12-1, Flint Corn is worth betting to win and boxing in the exacta with Riding in the Wind.

  • $10 to win on #2 B Flint Corn
  • $7 Exacta: 4 with 2
  • $3 Exacta: 2 with 4
  • Total: $20

Turf Paradise: Race 2: $30,000 Maiden Optional Claiming (7 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:52 p.m. ET)

#7 Squared Straight (8-5) is the morning line favorite after placing third twice over this course and class level, but the speedy son of Square Eddie may face a stiff challenge from the out-of-state shipper #4 Oculus (2-1).

Although Oculus has yet to finish better than sixth in half a dozen starts, the bay four-year-old has been competing against much tougher maiden special weight company on the Southern California circuit. Two starts back, the son of Bodemeister carved out the pace in a 1 1/8-mile event at Santa Anita before weakening to finish just 5 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

Oculus should relish the chance to compete against $30,000 maiden optional claiming company at Turf Paradise. 2-1 seems like a fair price, so we’ll bet Oculus to win and play him over Squared Straight in a cold exacta.

  • $10 to win on #4 Oculus
  • $10 Exacta: 4 with 7
  • Total: $20

Good luck!