Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for March 19

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March 19th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Friday, March 19 at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Santa Anita, including trios of exacta and trifecta tickets.

Fair Grounds: Race 5: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (Six furlongs, 3:56 p.m. ET)

Brisnet Speed ratings suggest handicapping this allowance dash for sophomore fillies is straightforward. #1 Euphoric (7-5) is a clear standout, having posted figures of 93 and 95 in her last two starts over this track and distance. On Feb. 13, the daughter of Frosted absolutely obliterated seven rivals in a maiden special weight, leading all the way to win by 10 lengths under a hand ride.

If Euphoric is an obvious choice for first prize, then #2 Makeajoyfulnoise (4-1) is a clear candidate to finish second. She’s posted solid Brisnet Speed ratings of 85 and 82 in a pair of efforts over this track and distance, most recently overcoming a stumbling start to finish second in a Feb. 16 allowance optional claiming race. A repeat should allow Makeajoyfulnoise to complete the exacta, with #5 Malibu Bird (3-1) and #6 Malloy (9-2) battling to round out the trifecta.

$20 Exacta: 1 with 2
$5 Trifecta: 1 with 2 with 5,6 ($10)
Total: $30

Oaklawn Park: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (Six furlongs, 4:06 p.m. ET)

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for this track, distance, and class level is a 91, which is exactly the figure produced by #2 Mighty Mischief in his debut under these conditions last month. A son of two-time leading sire Into Mischief, Mighty Mischief fired off a big effort for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, carving out a solid pace over a muddy track before settling for second by less than a length.

Considering Asmussen wins at a 21% rate with second-time starters, and at a 25% rate when teaming up with jockey Ricardo Santana, Mighty Mischief looks tough to beat a short price. His consistent stablemate #5 Long Term Thinking (4-1) is an obvious choice for the runner-up spot after finishing second in eight of his nine starts to date, though the well-bred first-time starter #6 Time Is Yours (6-1) can also contend for trainer Kelly Von Hemel, who strikes at a 21% rate with debut runners.

$9 Exacta: 2 with 5,6 ($18)
$2 Trifecta: 2 with 5,6 with 1,5,6,9 ($12)
Total: $30

Santa Anita: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (One mile on turf, 4:00 p.m. ET)

#5 Cargo (4-5) ran a big race sprinting six furlongs over this course and class level on Feb. 15, overcoming some early trouble to rally and finish second by just 1 1/2 lengths. The 80 Brisnet Speed rating he posted isn’t far off par for Friday’s conditions, and there are reasons to believe Cargo will improve while stretching out over a mile.

For starters, Cargo is a son of Point of Entry, who won five Grade 1 turf races over distances ranging from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/2 miles. For another, Cargo’s dam sire is Ten Most Wanted, winner of the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) and runner-up in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1). Throw in the fact trainer Phil D’Amato wins at a solid 19% with horses running long for the first time (and at a 28% rate when teaming up with hot jockey Flavien Prat), and we have a recipe for victory.

#3 Bukayo (9-2), who posted an 82 Brisnet Speed rating when fourth in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race on Feb. 14, can vie with #4 Hail Freedom (3-1) for the minor awards.

$10 Exacta: 5 with 3,4 ($20)
$5 Trifecta: 5 with 3,4 with 3,4 ($10)
Total: $30

Good luck!