Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Dec. 1, 2023

December 1st, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Dec. 1 at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, including tickets for Turfway’s $1,067 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Fair Grounds $2,500 Late Pick 5 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Fair Grounds on any Friday from Dec. 1 through Dec. 29 to win your share of a $2,500 weekly jackpot.
  • Fraser Downs 15% Win Bonus: Earn a 15% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning win wagers at Fraser Downs every Thursday and Friday from Nov. 16 through Dec. 15.

Picks and Plays

Fair Grounds: Race 1: $10,000 Maiden Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 1:45 p.m. ET)

#2 Country Belle (5-1) showed some ability in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for Louisiana-breds at Fair Grounds last month. After settling nearly half a dozen lengths off the early pace, she rallied into third place by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole, only to weaken in the drive and finish ninth.

Dropping into a $10,000 maiden claimer for Louisiana-breds should be a better fit for Country Belle, so we’ll bet her to win and play her over first-time starter #5 Flash It Wide Open (3-1) in an exacta.


  • #2 Country Belle (5-1)
  • #5 Flash It Wide Open (3-1)
  • #6 Dark Skyer (8-1)


  • $20 to win on #2 Country Belle
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 5
    Total: $25

Turfway Park: Race 1: $50,000 Maiden Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 5:55 p.m. ET)

#4 Yellow Jacket (5-1) exits a pair of fourth-place finishes against maiden special weight competition racing one mile over the Horseshoe Indianapolis turf course. Yellow Jacket ran well on both occasions, losing the two contests by a combined 3 1/2 lengths.

Horseshoe Indianapolis shippers did well at the start of the 2022 Turfway Park Holiday Meet, and Yellow Jacket has high-percentage jockey John McKee named to ride, so there’s a lot to like about his chances. The fact trainer Anna Navarrete wins at a 30% rate with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming competition cements Yellow Jacket as an appealing win play.

We’ll also use Yellow Jacket to start a cold double wager.


  • #4 Yellow Jacket (5-1)
  • #11 I’m Free (3-1)
  • #10 Mystic Power (5-1)


  • $25 to win on #4 Yellow Jacket
  • $5 Double: 4 with 4
    Total: $30

Turfway Park: Race 2: $15,000 Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 6:25 p.m. ET)

#4 Saturn Boy (6-1) has hit the board in six of his last seven starts against tougher competition than he’ll face on Thursday. Last time out, the three-year-old gelding finished fourth in a $25,000 claimer racing one mile over the Horseshoe Indianapolis turf course.

But Saturn Boy has also run well on Tapeta. During the 2022-23 racing season at Turfway Park, Saturn Boy won a $50,000-$40,000 maiden claimer and finished third in a $30,000 starter allowance. He’ll be guided on Thursday by apprentice jockey German Terraza (who rides with a seven-pound weight allowance), so there are plenty of reasons to believe Saturn Boy can prevail while returning to Turfway.

A win bet is in order, and we’ll also single Saturn Boy to conclude our double wager.


  • #4 Saturn Boy (6-1)
  • #6 I Lucked Out (7-2)
  • #5 Mackenzie’s Novva (8-1)


  • $25 to win on #4 Saturn Boy

Carryover Watch

Turfway Park: Race 1: $2,510 Super High 5 carryover (1:00 p.m. ET)

The first Super High 5 carryover of the 2023 Turfway Park Holiday Meet is up for grabs on Friday. The $1 wager has tossed up a non-jackpot prize pool worth $1,067.

It’s possible—and maybe even probable—that the wager will go unsolved again on Friday. The Super High 5 is also offered in Race 9, a $7,500 maiden claimer for two-year-old fillies racing one mile on Tapeta. A field of 14 (including two also-eligible entrants) has turned out, which means there are 240,240 possible Super High 5 outcomes to analyze before scratches.

It’s a massively difficult race to handicap, and not just because of the large field size. Only one of the entrants has run over a synthetic track, and the 11 experienced horses are all dropping in class. For these reasons, the existing form lines mean little to nothing—you can make a case of some sort for any of these horses to run well, or not. Take your pick.

We won’t recommend full tickets before race-day changes are released, but we will highlight #6 Ms Ks Dynasty (20-1) as a live longshot worth using, maybe even on top.

Ms Ks Dynasty failed to factor in her first two starts sprinting, but in her third start she stretched out for a one-mile maiden special weight against males and ran much better to finish third, beaten only 5 3/4 lengths.

The fact Ms Ks Dynasty improved while stretching out in distance isn’t surprising; as a daughter of Temple City out of a mare by Tapit, she’s bred to thrive running long. She’s also eligible to shine while switching from dirt to Tapeta, since Temple City won the Cougar II H. (G3) on synthetic 

Ms Ks Dynasty also has positive trainer stats in her corner. Trainer Arthur Coontz wins at a 26% rate with shippers and has gone 2-for-3 (67%) with horses descending from maiden special weight into maiden claiming competition over the past few years.

In short, Ms Ks Dynasty has the credentials to outrun her 20-1 morning line odds. If she visits the winner’s circle and we have a winning ticket, we’ll have a shot to sweep the entire Super High 5 pool.

Good luck!