Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Dec. 11, 2023

December 11th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Dec. 11 at Mahoning Valley and Zia Park, including a cold double wager.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • 10x Points at Zia Park: Receive 10x reward points on all wagers (excluding show bets) at Zia Park on Mondays and Tuesdays through Dec. 19.

Picks and Plays

Mahoning Valley: Race 3: $5,000 Claiming (six furlongs, 1:40 p.m. ET)

#3 Woodland Walk (5-2) might be 12 years old, but the veteran gelding enters this $5,000 claimer in hot form. On Oct. 10, he won a $12,500 starter optional claimer at Thistledown by two lengths. On Nov. 1, he took a $10,000 claimer for horses who hadn’t won two races in the last six months by 3 3/4 lengths. And on Nov. 30, he finished a close second in an $8,000 claimer.

Woodland Walk has the tactical speed to work out a favorable trip and should be tough to beat while dropping down to the $5,000 claiming level. We’ll single him to start a double wager and key him over #8 Savvy Layla (4-1) in a cold exacta.


  • #3 Woodland Walk (5-2)
  • #8 Savvy Layla (4-1)
  • #7 D’money Honey (6-1)


  • $30 Double: 3 with 7
  • $10 Exacta: 3 with 8
    Total: $40

Mahoning Valley: Race 4: $8,000 Claiming (six furlongs, 2:08 p.m. ET)

#7 Diva Power (7-5) misfired when stepping up in class and distance for the one-mile and 70-yard Ohio Debutante S. last month, fading from a pace-tracking position to finish seventh. But she’d previously won three straight sprints on the Ohio circuit, wiring a $16,000 claimer by 7 3/4 lengths before taking a $20,000 starter optional claimer by 1 1/2 lengths and a $7,500 starter allowance by 2 1/4 lengths.

Those three victories yielded Brisnet Speed ratings of 83, 79, and 83, stamping Diva Power as a clear standout while dropping into an $8,000 claimer. We’ll single her to conclude our double wager, then bet her over #3 Not a Wild Brat (5-1) and #5 Dancin’ Rosie (2-1) in the exacta.


  • #7 Diva Power (7-5)
  • #3 Not a Wild Brat (5-1)
  • #5 Dancin’ Rosie (2-1)


  • $10 Exacta: 7 with 3,5 ($20)

Zia Park: Race 9: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 5:49 p.m. ET)

Since 2021, trainer Joel Marr has gone 4-for-15 (27%) debuting juveniles at Zia Park. Marr has a couple of unraced two-year-olds entered in this maiden special weight sprint: #6 No Trouble (9-2) and #7 Cash Follows Me (6-1). Of the pair, we prefer No Trouble.

A son of Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) runner-up World of Trouble, who sires a respectable 12% winners from first-time starters, No Trouble is a half-sibling to five horses who broke their maidens at age two. A fast half-mile workout from the Zia Park starting gate in :47 4/5 last month suggests No Trouble is a live threat to win on debut.

We’ll keep things simple with a win bet.


  • #6 No Trouble (9-2)
  • #7 Cash Follows Me (6-1)
  • #1 Lovesunfair (7-2)


  • $30 to win on #6 No Trouble

Good luck!