Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Nov. 21, 2023
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Zia Park and Mahoning Valley, along with a horse to single in the $3,906 Pick 6 carryover 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
Zia Park: Race 2: $25,000 Maiden Claiming (five furlongs, 2:33 p.m. ET)
#1 Can’t Want That (6-5) has placed in her last two starts against maiden special weight competition at Prairie Meadows. On Aug. 13, she ran second against fellow fillies. On Sept. 23, she finished third while facing males.
Trainer Kevin Eikleberry wins at a 33% rate with horses descending from maiden special weight to maiden claiming competition, and Can’t Want That breezed a bullet half-mile from the Zia Park starting gate in :47 last month, so all signs suggest this bay filly is setting on a winning run. We’ll key her over #3 Hello Goodbye (8-5) in a cold exacta.
- #1 Can’t Want That (6-5)
- #3 Hello Goodbye (8-5)
- #4 Pink Lace (10-1)
- $20 Exacta: 1 with 3
Mahoning Valley: Race 5: $8,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:36 p.m. ET)
#9 Masterofthehounds (3-1) is a Brisnet Speed rating standout. Whereas his rivals have mostly been posting numbers in the 60s and 70s, Masterofthehounds has posted improving numbers of 74, 85, and 91 in three starts since being claimed by trainer Johanna Urieta.
Masterofthehounds was beaten less than one length when second in a $7,500 starter allowance sprinting six furlongs at Mahoning last time out, a race in which he set the pace. Masterofthehounds isn’t a need-the-lead type, but his tactical speed is an asset that should allow him to work out a favorable trip.
Let’s bet Masterofthehounds to win and single him to start a double wager.
- #9 Masterofthehounds (3-1)
- #4 Spin Doctor (8-1)
- #5 Nambiti (4-1)
- $25 to win on #9 Masterofthehounds
- $15 Double: 9 with 1
Mahoning Valley: Race 6: Allowance (six furlongs, 3:04 p.m. ET)
#1 Backatya (2-1) improved sharply in his first start since being claimed by high-percentage trainer Anthony Farrior, a 35% winner at Mahoning this meet. In a $5,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs at Laurel Park on Oct. 22, Backatya led all the way to dominate by 2 3/4 lengths, earning a flashy 91 Brisnet Speed rating.
That’s the best number recently posted by any horse in this allowance field, so Backatya will be tough to beat if he repeats the performance under hot jockey Luis Rivera, a 27% winner this meet. We’ll single Backatya to conclude our double wager and bet him to win for good measure.
- #1 Backatya (2-1)
- #2 Simply Valid (3-1)
- #7 Cryo (5-2)
- $15 to win on #1 Backatya
Finger Lakes: Race 3: $3,906 Pick 6 carryover (1:11 p.m. ET)
Another day, another Pick 6 carryover up for grabs at Finger Lakes. The $1 wager frequently goes unsolved, and such has been the case each of the last two racing days. As a result, there’s a double carryover worth $3,906 available to chase during Tuesday’s card.
The Pick 6 spans Race 3 through Race 8, a sequence involving 47 horses (averaging about 7.8 per race) and 225,792 possible outcomes before scratches. The number of possible betting combinations is actually a bit smaller (200,704) due to a coupled entry in Race 8.
When playing the Pick 6, it’s always helpful to find a trustworthy single to build tickets around. A viable possibility for Tuesday’s sequence can be found right off the bat in Race 3, a six-furlong dirt allowance for fillies and mares who have never won two races.
Among the seven entrants, morning line favorite #3 Ms. Solveig (9-5) looks like a standout. The daughter of Bernardini used to compete on the New York Racing Association circuit and was good enough to place in maiden special weights at Saratoga, Aqueduct, and Belmont Park.
But Ms. Solveig has found more success since taking her talents to Finger Lakes. On Sept. 12, she tackled a one-mile and 70-yard maiden special weight and overcame a slow start to trounce five opponents by 19 3/4 lengths. On Oct. 23, she tackled an allowance for non-winners of two races and rallied from behind a slow pace to finish second by half a length.
Ms. Solveig is cutting back to a sprint distance on Tuesday, but that shouldn’t be an issue; all three of her top-three finishes against maiden special weight competition on the New York Racing Association circuit came in sprints.
For good measure, Ms. Solveig brings strong Brisnet Speed ratings to the table. Whereas five of her six rivals have failed to post a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 77, Ms. Solveig has posted numbers in the 77-85 range in all eight of her starts, including 80+ ratings in her last five runs. The only filly who comes close to Ms. Solveig from a Brisnet Speed rating standpoint is #4 Highway Harmony (3-1), and she’s returning from a nearly one-year layoff for a trainer who wins just 9% of the time with horses returning from breaks of 90 days or more.
In short, Ms. Solveig is a solid single to start the Pick 6.