Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of the day for Oct. 11
Picks and Plays
Indiana Grand: Race 3: Allowance (5 1/2 furlongs, 3:27 p.m. ET)
#1 Chandana (8-5) hasn’t missed the trifecta in her last six dirt sprints, including three runner-up efforts over this track and class level. Two starts back, she rallied gamely from a tracking position to fall a head short of victory in a 5 1/2-furlong sprint. Most recently, she was beaten 1 3/4 lengths in a fast six-furlong dash, earning a career-best 83 Brisnet Speed rating.
When it comes to recent Brisnet Speed ratings, Chandana has an edge against Monday’s field. She also has the tactical speed to be prominent from the outset, setting the stage for victory.
#7 Miss Deputy Star (9-2), a stakes-placed speedster with five straight top-three finishes in dirt sprints to her credit, can complete the exacta.
Santa Anita: Race 2: $50,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile, 4:30 p.m. ET)
#5 Funkenstein (5-2) has been competing on turf as of late, but the son of Smiling Tiger is arguably better on dirt. During the winter, he finished second by narrow margins in a pair of $50,000 maiden claimers at Santa Anita, including a one-mile event which Funkenstein lost by a nose. Furthermore, his career-best 83 Brisnet Speed rating came in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight over the Santa Anita main track.
Funkenstein recently returned from a break to finish a troubled ninth in a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden special weight at Del Mar. If he bounces back to peak form while dropping in class and switching to dirt for his second run off the layoff, Funkenstein can deliver a victory for trainer Mike Puype, who wins at a 25% rate with horses dropping in class from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company.
#4 Warrens Candy Man (2-1) looks like a logical choice for runner-up honors.
$20 to win on #5 Funkenstein
$5 exacta: 5 with 4
Presque Isle Downs: Race 5: Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile S. (6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 6:25 p.m. ET)
#5 Nobals (5-2) is undefeated in two starts over synthetic surfaces. After rallying to break his maiden in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Presque Isle, the son of Noble Mission shipped to Arlington Park and dominated the seven-furlong Arlington-Washington Futurity by 4 1/4 lengths.
NOBALS (Noble Mission (GB)) finished powerfully up the rail to win the 2021 @ArlingtonRacing-Washington Futurity for @Pablojockey88 in the leading owners silks (Patricia’s Hope, LLC) and Stakes winning trainer Larry Rivelli in 1:24.71 (AW). Promising Juvenile now two-for-two. pic.twitter.com/qXDZcHUJ4s— John G. Dooley (@JohnGDooley) August 28, 2021
This effort produced a strong 89 Brisnet Speed rating, easily the highest figure earned by any horse in the Fitz Dixon field. Nobals subsequently reiterated his class by finishing a game fifth in the one-mile Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile on turf, a race won by next-out Bourbon S. (G2) hero Tiz the Bomb.
With Presque Isle’s leading rider Pablo Morales in the saddle, Nobals looks tough to beat in the Fitz Dixon. For second place, we’ll use #6 Cloud Play (8-1), a sharp maiden winner sprinting seven furlongs over the Woodbine Tapeta track last month.
$20 to win on #5 Nobals
$5 exacta: 5 with 6
Santa Anita, Race 1: $12,511 Super High 5 carryover (4:00 p.m. ET)
A rare Monday card at Santa Anita will kick off the racing week on a high note. The opening race features a $12,511 carryover in the $1 Super High 5, giving bettors a non-jackpot carryover option to chase right off the bat.
Here’s the problem: assembling a winning ticket won’t be easy. The Monday opener is a maiden special weight for California-bred juveniles sprinting five furlongs on turf. Nine horses have been entered, but five are first-time starters, so there isn’t much established form to rely on in the past performances.
Among those with racing experience, #2 Oubabe (9-5) is a logical contender. The John Sadler trainee ran well in a 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprint over this class level at Los Alamitos last month, pressing a solid pace before settling for third place by less than a length. The 80 Brisnet Speed rating he posted is slightly better than par for Monday’s conditions, and ultra-hot jockey Flavien Prat (a 34% winner this meet) is picking up the mount.
But it’s worth noting trainer John Sadler has gone just 2-for-31 (6%) saddling juveniles in turf sprints at Santa Anita since 2016. Sadler tends to enjoy more success with dirt horses than grass runners and strikes at just a 10% rate with horses transitioning from dirt to turf. It’s possible Oubabe will be vulnerable to an upset while switching surfaces.
If Oubabe does falter, perhaps the first-time starters #7 Synnin and Winnin (6-1) or #9 Liberty Forever (4-1) can steal the show. Synnin and Winning, a sibling to three stakes winners, is conditioned by Brian Koriner, a 17% winner with first-time starters. Meanwhile, Liberty Forever hails from the barn of Peter Miller, a 22% winner in turf sprints at Santa Anita since 2016.
For Super High 5 purposes, we’ll play a pair of tickets, one using Oubabe on top of Synnin and Winnin and Liberty Forever, and the other reversing the positions in case an upset unfolds.
$1 Super High 5: 2 with 7,9 with 3,7,9 with 1,3,5,7,9 with 1,3,6,7,8,9 ($36)
$1 Super High 5: 7,9 with 2 with 3,7,9 with 1,3,5,7,9 with 1,3,6,7,8,9 ($36)