Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of the day for March 24

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March 24th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Wednesday, March 24 at Sam Houston and Turfway Park, including a trio of exactas.

Sam Houston: Race 8: $50,000 Maiden Claiming (five furlongs on turf, 8:38 p.m. ET)

#6 Gradester (5-2) is a logical favorite after finishing fourth in a maiden special weight over this course and distance on March 4. Conditioned by hot trainer J. R. Caldwell (a 25% winner this meet), Gradester has plenty of tactical speed and will be tough to catch while dropping down to the maiden claiming ranks.

That said, #1 He’s a Bomb (10-1) has run faster on the Brisnet Speed rating scales and looms as an intriguing alternative. Two starts back, the gray colt flashed speed in a six-furlong maiden special weight over the Sam Houston main track, ultimately finishing second by just a head.

He’s a Bomb has never run on turf, but as a son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Hit It a Bomb, the surface switch shouldn’t be an issue. At 10-1, He’s the Bomb has the potential to outrun expectations and produce big payoffs.

Thanks to the Sam Houston Wednesday Bet Back Offer from TwinSpires, we can place a $10 win bet on He’s a Bomb and receive a refund if he settles for second place. We’ll also box him in the exacta with Gradester.

  • $10 to win on #1 He’s a Bomb
  • $5 Exacta Box: 1,6 ($10)
  • Total: $20

Turfway Park: Race 6: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 8:46 p.m. ET)

Although #3 Lady Edith (3-1) has never run on synthetic, her overall form indicates she’s a good fit for this Tapeta sprint. Lady Edith won her debut dashing 5 1/2 furlongs on turf and has competed twice against stakes company, earning an 80 Brisnet Speed rating (the highest in Wednesday’s field) when finishing fifth in the Untapable S. at Kentucky Downs.

Lady Edith recently returned from a layoff to finish fourth in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint over Wednesday’s class level at Fair Grounds, beaten just 3 1/4 lengths after vying for the early lead. Trainer Tom Drury wins at a 28% rate with horses running for the second time off a layoff, and at a 32% rate with horses beaten as the favorite in their previous start, so all signs suggest Lady Edith is sitting on an improved performance.

For good measure, Lady Edith is a daughter of Street Boss, a two-time Grade 1 winner sprinting on synthetic. If she takes after her sire and handles the switch to artificial footing, Lady Edith can sprint all the way to the winner’s circle.

Capitazling on the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Lady Edith and get our money back if she finishes second. Then we’ll play her over #1 On Brilliant (3-1) and #4 Sweet Spin (5-2) in the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #3 Lady Edith
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 1,4 ($10)
  • Total: $20

Turfway Park: Race 7: $40,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 9:16 p.m. ET)

#6 Peekacho (4-1) was compromised by a modest pace when rallying to finish third over this track, distance, and class level on Feb. 27. But two starts back, he took advantage of quicker fractions to rally and win a similar race by three-quarters of a length.

Peekacho brings strong Brisnet Speed ratings to the mix and may enjoy a favorable pace setup on Wednesday, setting the stage for a rebound. A $10 win bet (taking advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back) will be our first order of business, followed by an exacta playing Peekacho over the veteran speedster #8 Lanier (7-2) and the capable allowance competition #1 Lord Guinness (9-2).

  • $10 to win on #6 Peekacho
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 1,8 ($10)
  • Total: $20

Good luck!