Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Nov. 27, 2023

November 27th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Nov. 27 at Mahoning Valley and Zia Park, including an 8-1 longshot.

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 1: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 12:45 p.m. ET)

#6 Ascendance (4-1) showed pace-tracking speed in his debut sprinting seven furlongs against maiden special weight competition at Colonial Downs before tiring to finish fourth. Then the bay gelding rallied from far off the pace in a 5 1/2-furlong $20,000 maiden claimer at Laurel Park to finish third, beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

These efforts produced Brisnet Speed ratings of 68 and 65, stamping Ascendance as the fastest horse in the Monday opener at Mahoning Valley. Red-hot trainer Anthony Farrior (a 44% winner at Mahoning this meet) wins at a 27% rate with horses running long for the first time, so we’ll count on Ascendance to deliver victory in his route debut.


  • #6 Ascendance (4-1)
  • #7 Golden Buck (3-1)
  • #5 Mansion Party (6-1)


  • $25 to win on #6 Ascendance (4-1)

Mahoning Valley: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 3:04 p.m. ET)

#1 Big R. Nauffal (8-1) earned a 61 Brisnet Speed rating when finishing sixth in her debut sprinting five furlongs over this track and class level on Oct. 21. That’s the highest number belonging to any of the experienced runners in Monday’s field.

Big R. Nauffal is adding blinkers for her second start and is slated to be ridden by Luis Rivera, a 42% winner teaming up with trainer Anthony Farrior over the last two months. There are enough positives in Big R. Nauffal’s corner to make her 8-1 morning line odds enticing.


  • #1 Big R. Nauffal (8-1)
  • #6 Not Today (8-1)
  • #3 Beautiful Summer (3-1)


  • $25 to win on #1 Big R. Nauffal

Zia Park: Race 5: Peppers Pride New Mexico Cup Fillies and Mares Classic S. (one mile, 3:57 p.m. ET)

#2 Corrina Corrina (1-5) is the heavy favorite after winning four straight sprints, including a trio of stakes. But when she stretched out over one mile for the Peppers Pride H. at Sunland Park last March, she had to work hard to beat #1 Bye Bye Brandi (6-1) by half a length.

Bye Bye Brandi has been a bit disappointing in three starts since then, but those three runs came in sprints. Stretching back out over one mile for her third start back from a five-month layoff can help Bye Bye Brandi move forward and potentially upset Corrina Corrina.

We’ll take a shot keying Bye Bye Brandi on top of Corrina Corrina in a cold exacta.


  • #1 Bye Bye Brandi (6-1)
  • #2 Corrina Corrina (1-5)
  • #4 Our Time to Shine (8-1)


  • $15 Exacta: 1 with 2

Good luck!