Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Nov. 30, 2023

November 29th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Nov. 30 at Mahoning Valley and Turfway Park, along with horses to single in Pick 6 carryovers at Aqueduct and Fair Grounds.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • 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

Mahoning Valley: Race 7: Allowance (six furlongs, 3:33 p.m. ET)

The stakes-placed #3 Dial Direct (9-5) is easily the fastest horse in this field from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective. Whereas none of his six rivals have earned a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 77, Dial Direct’s three starts have produced improving numbers of 80, 85, and 86.

Dial Direct was tons the best in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Mahoning Valley last time out and looks ready to win right back for hot trainer Robert Gorham, a 22% winner this meet. Let’s key him over #7 Who Da Boss (5-2), the second-fastest horse on paper, in a cold exacta.


  • #3 Dial Direct (9-5)
  • #7 Who Da Boss (5-2)
  • #6 Gapper (9-2)


Turfway Park: Race 4: $12,500 Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 7:25 p.m. ET)

#3 Dream Keeper (5-1) has been facing tougher competition than he’ll encounter at Turfway Park. He exits a pair of allowance contests at Thistledown, including a fifth-place finish in which he earned a sharp 89 Brisnet Speed rating that stacks up well against Wednesday’s field.

Dream Keeper has been freshened since August and enters off a lengthy series of workouts at Turfway Park, including a bullet half-mile in :47 3/5. Trainer William Cowans won with four of his first five starters during the 2022-23 Turfway Park Holiday Meet, so let’s take a shot betting Dream Keeper to win.


  • #3 Dream Keeper (5-1)
  • #8 Bluegrass Parkway (3-1)
  • #4 Shortlist (4-1)


  • $20 to win on #3 Dream Keeper

Turfway Park: Race 8: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 9:25 p.m. ET)

Horses shipping in from Horseshoe Indianapolis excelled at the start of the 2022 Turfway Park Holiday Meet, and we’re willing to bet #10 Gunoe (8-1) can follow suit in 2023. The son of Into Mischief enters off back-to-back allowance victories over the Horseshoe Indianapolis dirt, earning strong Brisnet Speed ratings of 92 and 95.

Gunoe won his lone start at Turfway Park earlier this year, dominating a maiden special weight by 2 3/4 lengths, so returning to this Tapeta track shouldn’t be an issue. At 8-1, he’s worth betting to win and playing over #12 Value Engineering (7-2) and #3 Barberini (12-1) in the exacta.


  • #10 Gunoe (8-1)
  • #12 Value Engineering (7-2)
  • #3 Barberini (12-1)


  • $22 to win on #10 Gunoe
  • $5 Exacta: 10 with 12
  • $3 Exacta: 10 with 3
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Aqueduct: Race 4: $46,068 Pick 6 carryover (1:46 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Aqueduct kicks off on Thursday with a $46,068 non-jackpot carryover up for grabs in the $1 Pick 6.

Looking for a single to build tickets around? Check out #4 Iridescent (4-5) in Race 6, a $50,000 starter optional claimer for two-year-olds sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt.

Iridescent won his debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park, counting next-out winner Palm Tree among his beaten rivals. Then, after finishing fourth in a 6 1/2-furlong grass allowance over the tricky Kentucky Downs course, Iridescent returned to dirt and ran fourth in a $100,000 allowance optional claimer sprinting seven furlongs at Churchill Downs.

That turned out to be a deep race. Runner-up Honor Marie came back to win the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), while third-place finisher Just Steel returned to take the Ed Brown S. at Churchill Downs.

Iridescent figures to find the competition much easier at Aqueduct, stamping the Brad Cox trainee as a formidable favorite under hot jockey Manny Franco, who has gone 2-for-6 (33%) teaming up with Cox over the last two months.

Fair Grounds: Race 5: $4,457 Pick 6 carryover (3:45 p.m. ET)

Fair Grounds is getting in on Thursday’s non-jackpot carryover action with a $4,457 prize pool up for grabs in the $1 Pick 6.

Bettors searching for a single are advised to examine Race 9, a 1 1/16-mile dirt allowance. The morning line favorite is #1 Banishing (9-5), a three-year-old Godolphin homebred with a strong series of Brisnet Speed ratings under his belt.

Whereas none of Banishing’s Thursday rivals have earned a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 89 in their last six starts, Banishing threw down a 96 when wiring a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Fair Grounds last December by 8 1/2 lengths. And on Nov. 2, Banishing returned from a long layoff to rally and finish third in a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs, earning a 90 Brisnet Speed rating.

Banishing didn’t get off to the best start at Churchill and dropped back to seventh place behind a fast early pace, but there isn’t a ton of speed on paper in Thursday’s field, so a clean break can land Banishing a favorable forwardly placed trip. Any improvement at all off his comeback effort should make Banishing tough to beat while returning to Fair Grounds for trainer Brendan Walsh, who wins at a 21% rate with horses running for the second time following a layoff.

Good luck!