Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Mar. 17

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March 17th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Wednesday, Mar. 17 at Gulfstream Park, Sam Houston, and Turfway Park. Whether you prefer betting dirt, turf, or synthetic races, there’s something for everyone.

Gulfstream Park: Race 9: $35,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/2 miles on turf, 5:16 p.m. ET)

There’s almost no speed entered in this 1 1/2-mile turf marathon, so rather than count on a deep closer to get the job done, we’ll take a shot betting the consistent #10 Call Curt (6-1), who hasn’t finished off the board in seven starts.

Unlike most of his rivals, Call Curt has at least some semblance of tactical speed; he broke his maiden in gate-to-wire fashion racing one mile at Gulfstream, and he generally races within a few lengths of the early lead. Stretching out over 1 1/2 miles in a paceless race, Call Curt should have every opportunity to shake loose on an uncontested lead. From there, he might just forget to stop at a fair price.

We’ll bet Call Curt to win and call it a day.

$25 to win on #10 Call Curt

Sam Houston: Race 1: $15,000 Maiden Claiming (One mile, 5:10 p.m. ET)

#6 Keeping Secrets (6-5) and #7 Dixie Wayne (9-5) were separated by 1 3/4 lengths when finishing second and third for a $7,500 tag over this track and distance on Feb. 25. They loom as standouts in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings and should run 1-2 on Wednesday, but don’t assume Keeping Secrets will maintain her supremacy.

After all, Dixie Wayne has more tactical speed than her rival and may enjoy a more favorable trip in this compact seven-horse field. Trainer J. R. Caldwell and jockey Leandro Goncalves have been hot, winning at a 27% rate together, and Caldwell strikes at a 21% rate with runners ascending two or more levels up the class ladder. If Dixie Wayne settles into a perfect trip stalking #2 Kause I’m Devine (30-1), she can turn the tables on Keeping Secrets.

Taking advantage of the Sam Houston Wednesday Bet Back Offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Dixie Wayne and get our money back if she settles for second. Then we’ll play Dixie Wayne over Keeping Secrets in a cold exacta.

$10 to win on #7 Dixie Wayne
$15 Exacta: 7 with 6
Total: $25

Turfway Park: Race 2: $15,000 Maiden Claiming (One mile on Tapeta, 6:46 p.m. ET)

#3 Master of War (5-2) is the morning line favorite while dropping down out of tougher races, but he’s failed to crack the trifecta in five starts and has never finished within 4 1/4 lengths of victory. He’ll need to show a bit more spark if he’s going to challenge for authority on Wednesday.

In contrast, #1 Saving Mama (3-1) enters off back-to-back runner-up efforts over this track, distance, and class level. The son of Super Saver has shown a bit more tactical speed than Master of War and may get first run at the leaders, setting the stage for an upset victory in his third try under Wednesday’s conditions.

Thanks to the Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion, we can bet $10 on Saving Mama and receive a refund if he settles for second. We’ll also play him on top of exacta and trifecta tickets using Master of War, #4 Bronze Beat (7-2), and #5 To Kalon (3-1) underneath.

$10 to win on #1 Saving Mama
$3 Exacta: 1 with 3,4,5 ($9)
$1 Trifecta: 1 with 3,4,5 with 3,4,5 ($6)
Total: $25

Good luck!