Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for Mar. 5

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March 5th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Friday, Mar. 5 at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Santa Anita, highlighted by a bevy of exotic wagers.

Fair Grounds: Race 1: $5,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:00 p.m. ET)

#6 Tuffology (9-5) owns the best recent Brisnet Speed rating in this low-level claimer for Louisiana-breds, and she hasn’t finished out of the trifecta in her last four starts. On Feb. 7, the daughter of Astrology carved out a quick pace over this track and class level before settling for second place, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths.

Tuffology was claimed that day by high-percentage trainer Karl Broberg, who wins at a lofty 25% rate with new claiming acquisitions. Cutting back from six furlongs to 5 1/2 furlongs should only help Tuffology’s chances, considering she romped over this distance two starts back, and jockey Colby Hernandez is named to ride. Over the last two months, Hernandez and Broberg have won at a 32% rate together.

In short, Tuffology looks tough to beat at a short price. #1 Brooklyn Baby (6-1), #2 Custom Cut (8-1), #7 Goodnight Gracie (9-2), and #8 That’s a Song (8-1) can battle to round out the trifecta and superfecta.

  • $2 Trifecta: 6 with 1,2,7,8 with 1,2,7,8 ($24)
  • 50-cent Superfecta: 6 with 1,2,7,8 with 1,2,7,8 with 1,2,7,8 ($12)
  • Total: $36

Oaklawn Park: Race 6: Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles, 4:38 p.m. ET)

#2 Riptide Rock (9-5) boasts the two fastest Brisnet Speed ratings in this allowance route for three-year-olds, throwing down back-to-back 87s in his first two starts. The chestnut gelding was particularly sharp in a Feb. 11 allowance race over this track and distance, finishing second by half a length against the stakes-placed Twilight Blue.

That race was contested over a muddy track, and with rain in the forecast for Oaklawn, Riptide Rock may enjoy the same footing on Friday. Hot jockey Francisco Arrieta and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer have enjoyed strong success together over the last two months, winning at a 29% rate, so let’s bet Riptide Rock on top in the exacta and trifecta while using #5 Kinetic Sky (2-1) for second place.

  • $10 Exacta: 2 with 5
  • $5 Trifecta: 2 with 5 with 1,3,6 ($15)
  • Total: $25

Santa Anita: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (One mile, 4:35 p.m. ET)

Seven of the eight sophomores entered in this competitive maiden heat are Triple Crown nominees, and there are plenty of short-priced win contenders to choose from. But if you want to think outside the box and aim for an upset, #5 Law Professor (6-1) is worthy of your attention.

A son of hot young sire Constitution out of the multiple stakes-winning router Haunted Heroine, Law Professor is bred top and bottom to excel racing one mile. He didn’t show a whole lot in his debut sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, fading to finish eighth. But the field was deep, and trainer Michael McCarthy has gone just 2-for-60 (3%) with first-time starters since 2019, suggesting Law Professor wasn’t cranked for a peak performance.

In contrast, McCarthy strikes at a 23% rate with second-time starters, and at a 20% rate with horses running long for the first time, so all signs suggest Law Professor will improve on Friday while adding blinkers and picking up hot jockey Joel Rosario. A sharp five-furlong workout in :59 4/5 adds to the appeal.

Let’s bet Law Professor to win, then play him over logical favorites #7 Fenway (5-2) and #8 Harbored Memories (2-1) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #5 Law Professor
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 7,8 ($10)
  • Total: $30

Good luck!