Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Delta Downs, Mahoning Valley, and Turf Paradise, including the $75,000 Magnolia S.
Delta Downs: Race 5: $20,000 Maiden Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 3:43 p.m. ET)
#6 Runpeggyrun (8-5) is the morning line favorite after cracking the trifecta in her last five dirt starts, but the 5-year-old mare is 0-for-11 lifetime and has been competing against easier Louisiana-bred rivals. On Tuesday, she’ll step up from the $10,000 to the $20,000 level while facing open company, a meaningful challenge considering her career-best 63 Brisnet Speed rating is nine points below par for this class level and distance.
In contrast, #5 Caged Bear (5-2) has competed exclusively against open maiden special weight company, including a pair of tough sprints at Oaklawn Park last year. Dropping down to the $20,000 maiden claiming ranks should make the daughter of Constitution formidable in her first start since September.
Let’s bet Caged Bear to win and single her to kick off a double.
$10 to win on #5 Caged Bear
$10 double: 5 with 6
Delta Downs: Race 6: Magnolia S. (1 mile, 4:11 p.m. ET)
#6 Steph’sfullasugar (6-5) showed a clear affinity for Delta Downs last winter, employing pace-tracking tactics to crush the 1-mile LA Bred Premier Night Starlet S. by 6 3/4 lengths. The strength of this effort was reiterated when the next three horses across the finish line returned to win their next starts.
Steph’sfullasugar recently returned from a long layoff to finish sixth in the 6-furlong Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint S. at Fair Grounds. Considering she overcome a slow start to charge hard and finish just 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner (gaining four lengths in the final furlong), this was a deceptively strong performance.
On Tuesday, Steph’sfullasugar will stretch back out over a mile while returning to Delta Downs. Trainer Al Stall wins at an excellent 23% rate with horses running back for the second time off a layoff, so we’ll confidently play Steph’sfullasugar on top of all our tickets.
$10 exacta 6 with 2,5 ($20)
$5 trifecta: 6 with 2,5 with 2,5 ($10)
Mahoning Valley: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 1:40 p.m. ET)
#2 Derby Included (4-1) faltered when racing a mile at Mahoning Valley last month, but the 4-year-old gelding has shown promising form over 6 furlongs, suggesting the cutback in distance will play to his strengths.
Actually, Derby Included has already crossed the wire first against this caliber of competition. Back in September, the son of Include wired a 6-furlong maiden race for Ohio-breds at Belterra Park, beating next-out winner Raven Moon with a solid 73 Brisnet Speed rating. But Derby Included was subsequently disqualified due to a positive drug test, which means he’ll be trying to graduate for real on Tuesday.
With hot apprentice Yarmarie Correa aboard, Derby Included figures to deliver another big run. He has the tactical speed to be effective from the outset, and he comes in as the fastest runner on paper. Throw in the five-pound weight break he’ll receive thanks to Correa, and we have a recipe for success.
Let’s take advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer from TwinSpires and place a $10 win bet on Derby Included. If he finishes second, we’ll get our money back.
$10 to win on #2 Derby Included
Turf Paradise: Race 7: $7,500 Maiden Claiming (6 furlongs, 5:26 p.m. ET)
#3 Lemon Ice (5-2) has been competing against much tougher company on the Southern California circuit, most recently finishing fifth in a $32,000 maiden claiming race at Santa Anita.
Trained at the time by Doug O’Neill, Lemon Ice will make his first start for Jonathan Wong on Tuesday, a noteworthy development since Wong strikes at an impressive 30% rate with new acquisitions. Lemon Ice already looks competitive from a Brisnet Speed rating standpoint, so if he takes a step forward while dropping down to the $7,500 level, he can take a trip to the winner’s circle.
Let’s bet Lemon Ice to win and key him on top of trifecta tickets emphasizing #1 Run Like Kate (5-1) underneath.
$20 to win on #3 Lemon Ice
$4 trifecta: 3 with 1 with 5,6 ($8)
$4 trifecta: 3 with 5,6 with 1 ($8)
$2 trifecta: 3 with 1 with 7
$2 trifecta: 3 with 7 with 1