Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Mar. 4

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March 4th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Thursday, Mar. 4 at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Turfway Park.

Two $10 win bets focusing on the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion are first on the agenda, followed by a trifecta ticket aimed at cashing a 15% bonus through the Trifecta Thursdays offer.

Fair Grounds: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (Six furlongs, 5:23 p.m. ET)

The Triple Crown nominee #7 Colonel Bowman (4-1) showed promise in his Jan. 2 debut over this track and distance, tracking the pace before finishing second against a deep field. The Godolphin homebred subsequently misfired in an identical race on Jan. 30, fading to finish fourth by a wide margin. But Colonel Bowman may have been compromised by racing close to hot fractions of :21.71 and :44.81.

Colonel Bowman should enjoy a more relaxed journey on Thursday while dropping blinkers, a winning move 34% of the time for trainer Brad Cox. At 4-1, Colonel Bowman is worth betting to win and playing on top of a cold exacta with #4 Tulane Tryst (5-2), who finished second in the Jan. 30 maiden heat after racing off the early pace.

$10 to win on #7 Colonel Bowman
$10 Exacta: 7 with 4
Total: $20

Oaklawn Park: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (Six furlongs, 5:09 p.m. ET)

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for this class and distance is an 87, but none of the nine fillies and mares in this six-furlong maiden sprint have come close to reaching that figure. As a result, the stage is set for an upset, with #5 Joyful Cadence (5-1) a possible candidate.

Joyful Cadence flashed speed in her debut over the Tapeta track at Turfway Park, dueling for the lead before weakening in the final furlong to finish seventh behind the next-out winners Twenty Carat and Wait for Nairobi. The latter filly actually came back to win the Cincinnati Trophy S. on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Switching surfaces can trigger improvement from Joyful Cadence, who is bred top and bottom to excel on dirt. Sire Runhappy won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) during a championship campaign, while dam Arabian Song has already foaled Peter Pan (G2) winner Country Grammar. Plus, Joyful Cadence will tote just 115 pounds, getting a five-pound weight break courtesy of apprentice jockey Joshua Morales.

#7 Motown Girl (5-2) can round out the exacta.

$10 to win on #5 Joyful Cadence
$5 Exacta: 5 with 7
Total: $15

Turfway Park: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (Six furlongs, 8:16 p.m. ET)

#7 Jerry’s Secret (2-1) threw down a sharp 86 Brisnet Speed rating when finishing second by half a length sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Turfway last month. Considering the par winning figure for this class level and distance is only 84, it’s safe to assume Jerry’s Secret will be a serious win threat if he posts a similar effort in his second career start.

But #3 King of Miami (3-1) can potentially put up a fight. Conditioned by leading trainer Wesley Ward, King of Miami hasn’t run since finishing fourth in a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden race at Saratoga last summer. The son of American Pharoah has since been gelded and will add blinkers and Lasix for his return, setting the stage for a big step forward under high-percentage jockey Gerardo Corrales.

If you need any other reasons to support King of Miami, just note how Ward wins at a 30% rate with horses switching from turf to synthetic, and at a 32% rate when teaming up with Corrales.

Let’s box King of Miami and Jerry’s Secret in the top two slots of a trifecta. For third place, we’ll spread deep with the first-time starters #1 Alpine Ghost (3-1) and #4 Recidivist (10-1), plus #11 Jimmy Dan (10-1) and #12 Randello (12-1), who finished third and fourth over this distance and class level on Dec. 31.

$2.50 Trifecta: 3,7 with 3,7 with 1,4,11,12 ($20)

Good luck!