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Need some help getting started? Racing analyst Keeler Johnson is ready to share his plays for this week’s contest action:

Apr. 3: Hi-5 Friday

Prize

$500 Bonus Cash

Goal

To pick the top five finishers in Friday’s eighth race at Gulfstream Park.

Analysis

#4 Off Topic (1-1) is the horse to beat in this one-mile allowance optional claiming race. Conditioned by Todd Pletcher, Off Topic ran four times against graded stakes company last year, most notably placing third in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). The daughter of Street Sense hasn’t run since winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Belmont last September, but Pletcher wins at a 30% rate off extended layoffs, and in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Off Topic is the fastest filly in Friday’s field.

For the runner-up spot, we’ll use the speedy #7 I’ll Take the Cake (9-2), who won Gulfstream’s Lady Bird S. in her first start for hot trainer Saffie Joseph. We’ll round out our play with the stakes-placed #2 Bella Ciao (12-1), the undefeated #3 So Cunning (10-1), and the improving #5 Final Cut (6-1).

The Play

  • 1st: #4 Off Topic
  • 2nd: #7 I’ll Take the Cake
  • 3rd: #2 Bella Ciao
  • 4th: #3 So Cunning
  • 5th: #5 Final Cut

Apr. 6: Monday Exacta

Prize

$100 Bonus Cash

Goal

To pick the top two finishers in Monday’s first race at Fonner Park.

Analysis

#4 Mr. Big Shot (3-1) and #2 J Train (5-2) seem like clear standouts in this 6-furlong sprint for Nebraska-bred maidens, and on paper they’re pretty evenly matched. They’ve squared off three times in half-mile dashes at Fonner, with Mr. Big Shot edging his rival on the first two occasions before J Train turned the table by a neck on Mar. 23.

But stretching out over 6 furlongs could swing the advantage back to Mr. Big News. J Train has the pedigree of a sprinter—the progeny of his sire, Holiday Justice, have an average winning distance of just 5.4 furlongs. In contrast, Mr. Big Shot is a son of Skipshot, whose foals have compiled an impressive average winning distance of 7.8 furlongs.

With this stout pedigree in his corner, Mr. Big Shot can emerge victorious for the hot jockey/trainer team of Jake Olesiak and David Anderson.

The Play

  • 1st: #4 Mr. Big Shot
  • 2nd: #2 J Train

Good luck!