Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Nov. 20, 2023

November 20th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Nov. 20 at Mahoning Valley and Zia Park, along with a horse to single in Pick 5 and Pick 6 carryovers at Finger Lakes.

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 5: $8,000 Starter Allowance (5 1/2 furlongs, 1:53 p.m. ET)

#11 Reckless L J (2-1) is a Brisnet Speed rating standout in this starter allowance for Ohio-breds. The seven-year-old gelding has won five straight races for hot trainer Jeffrey Radosevich, and his last two wins have yielded Brisnet Speed ratings of 91 and 92. For comparison, his Monday rivals have been posting Brisnet Speed ratings in the 60s, 70, and 80s.

Let’s single Reckless L J to start a double wager and bet him over #2 Wildcat Express (9-2) in a cold exacta for good measure.


  • #11 Reckless L J (2-1)
  • #2 Wildcat Express (9-2)
  • #9 Henry the Cat (10-1)


  • $15 Double: 11 with 1
  • $5 Exacta: 11 with 2
    Total: $20

Mahoning Valley: Race 6: First Lady S. (six furlongs, 2:20 p.m. ET)

#1 Buckeye Princess (2-1) is unbeaten and unchallenged, winning each of her four starts by a minimum of four lengths. She was much the best in a six-furlong allowance at Mahoning last month, rallying to win by 6 3/4 lengths with a sharp 90 Brisnet Speed rating, and she has every chance to keep her unbeaten record intact while ascending into the stakes ranks.

The once-beaten five-time stakes winner #5 Back to Ohio (8-5) can complete the exacta.


  • #1 Buckeye Princess (2-1)
  • #5 Back to Ohio (8-5)
  • #7 Sparkling Jewel (6-1)


  • $20 Exacta: 1 with 5

Zia Park: Race 2: $25,000 Maiden Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 2:33 p.m. ET)

#7 Kae Gae (3-1) has been posting fast workouts for trainer Kevin Eikleberry, a 32% winner with first-time starters. Kae Gae’s dam is Lady Of Harrods, who has foaled two juvenile winners (including a stakes winner) from two starters, so Kae Gae has the pedigree to shine from an early age.

At 3-1, Kae Gae is worth betting to win and keying over logical favorite #8 My Good Good Boy (9-5) in the exacta.


  • #7 Kae Gae (3-1)
  • #8 My Good Good Boy (9-5)
  • #6 Comfort J Byrd (6-1)


  • $25 to win on #7 Kae Gae

Carryover Watch

Finger Lakes: Race 3: $1,812 Pick 6 carryover (1:11 p.m. ET)
Finger Lakes: Race 5: $19,130 Pick 5 carryover (2:07 p.m. ET)

There are not one, but two non-jackpot carryovers up for grabs on Monday at Finger Lakes.

The $1 Pick 6 is up first, with a prize pool of $1,812 available to chase starting in Race 3. But the 50-cent Pick 5 starting in Race 5 looks far more lucrative, with a $19,130 prize pool on the table.

The sequences overlap in Races 5-8, which are the most important legs to nail if you want to pursue both carryovers. If you fail to select the winners of these four races, you won’t hit either wager.

Fortunately, Race 5 offers a viable single to build tickets around. The race is a $5,000 claimer for horses who have never won two races, and the distance is 1 3/16 miles, providing a stiff test of stamina.

The eight-horse field is filled primarily with horses who have started 15 or more times without recording more than one victory, and their form lines aren’t very flashy; most have been posting modest Brisnet Speed ratings of 71 and lower.

But then there’s morning line favorite #3 Pot of Gold (5-2), a lightly raced three-year-old with only five starts under his belt. Conditioned by hot trainer Jeremiah Englehart (a 29% winner at Finger Lakes this meet), Pot of Gold has posted Brisnet Speed ratings of 76, 71, 75, and 75 in four starts since transferring to Englehart’s care at Finger Lakes.

Pot of Gold showed staying power when breaking his maiden in a one-mile and 70-yard maiden special weight at Finger Lakes, and also when placing second in a 1 1/8-mile allowance. But he has tactical speed too, which should allow him to work out a favorable forwardly placed trip on Monday.

Dropping into the claiming ranks gives Pot of Gold his Brisnet Speed rating edge and should make the son of Speightster mighty tough to beat under jockey Emanuel De Diego, who has gone 9-for-20 (45%) teaming up with Englehart over the last two months. For all these reasons, Pot of Gold looms as a compelling single for the Pick 5 and Pick 6.

Good luck!