Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his weekday picks and plays for Wednesday, Jan. 20 at Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Turf Paradise, including a pair of win bets capitalizing on the TwinSpires Winter Midweek Bet Back promotion.

Gulfstream Park: Race 1: $16,000 Maiden Claiming (1 mile, 12:35 p.m. ET)

#9 Figo (8-5) is bound to be a popular choice, considering he’s hit the board four times racing a mile against maiden special weight company. Dropping down the class ladder should make Figo dangerous at a short price.

But Figo’s career-best 69 Brisnet Speed rating is 10 points lower than par for Wednesday’s class level and distance, suggesting he won’t be unstoppable even while facing easier competition. That’s why I’m tempted to oppose Figo with #7 Dropped Anchor (5-1).

A son of the multiple graded stakes-winning miler Anchor Down, Dropped Anchor ran a big race in his debut sprinting 6 furlongs at Gulfstream Park West. After dueling for the early lead in a $50,000 maiden claiming race, Dropped Anchor weakened only slightly to finish third with a 77 Brisnet Speed rating.

Dropped Anchor hasn’t been quite as sharp in two subsequent runs (including one on turf), but I suspect he’ll secure a favorable forward position while stretching out over a mile on Wednesday. For good measure, veteran Gulfstream jockey Paco Lopez takes over the mount, setting the stage for an upset victory.

Taking advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll bet $10 to win on Dropped Anchor. Then we’ll play him over Figo in a cold exacta.

  • $10 to win on #7 Dropped Anchor
  • $10 exacta: 7 with 9

Total: $20

Tampa Bay Downs: Race 6: $32,000 Maiden Claiming (1 mile on turf, 3:16 p.m. ET)

#3 Beto’s Girl (6-1) ran deceptively well in her debut over the Gulfstream turf course. A poor start left the daughter of Paynter far off the pace in a 5-furlong maiden special weight, but she never gave up and gradually rallied to finish sixth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths.

Beto’s Girl subsequently switched to dirt and dropped down to the $25,000 claiming level at Tampa Bay Downs, where she ran evenly to finish third. Her Brisnet Speed ratings are competitive in Wednesday’s heat and she’s bred to handle a mile, so stretching out in distance might be Beto’s Girl’s ticket to success.

A $10 win bet will allow us to take advantage of the Winter Midweek Bet Back offer, but we’ll also key Beto’s Girl in the top two slots of a trifecta.

$10 to win on #3 Beto’s Girl
$1 trifecta: 3 with 1,4,7 with 1,2,4,7 ($9)
$1 trifecta: 1,4,7 with 3 with 1,2,4,7 ($9)

Total: $28

Turf Paradise: Race 1: $12,500 Claiming (6 furlongs, 2:30 p.m. ET)

#1 Warriors Hero (6-5) ships in from Golden Gate Fields, where he’s hit the board in four straight $50,000 starter allowance races on Tapeta. Switching to dirt shouldn’t be an issue since the Jonathan Wong trainee broke his maiden over the dirt track at Pleasanton.

But although Wong wins at a lofty 26% rate overall, his Turf Paradise contingent has gone just 1-for-12 (8%) so far this winter. That doesn’t mean Warriors Hero can’t win on Wednesday, but as far as Brisnet Speed ratings go, he’s isn’t a standout despite his short price on the morning line.

Indeed, #4 J J’s Crown (4-1) threw down a competitive 71 (just three points below Warriors Hero’s best rating) when breaking his maiden in a $30,000 maiden optional claiming race at Turf Paradise. The strength of the race was reiterated when third-place finish Beckham James came back to win his next start, and the fact J J’s crown is already proven at Turf Paradise is appealing.

Let’s bet Warriors Hero to win, then play him over J J’s Crown in a cold exacta.

$20 to win on #4 J J’s Crown
$12 exacta: 4 with 1

Total: $32

Good luck!