Keeler Johnson's picks and plays April 17

April 17th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, April 17 at Will Rogers Downs and Turf Paradise, including a cold exacta keying a 9-2 shot on top.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • 10x Points on Harness Racing: On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, receive 10x reward points on all wagers at any harness track.
  • $10 Money Back Mondays: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any eligible race at Will Rogers Downs or Parx Racing, every Monday from April 3 through May 15.

Picks and Plays

Will Rogers Downs: Race 8: Wilma Mankiller S. (six furlongs, 5:35 p.m. ET)

#1 Ragan’s Jet (5-2) is a logical favorite after rattling off four consecutive victories, including a half-length triumph in the Miranda Diane S. over this track and distance last month.

But in the Miranda Diane, Ragan’s Jet was able to secure an uncontested lead against four rivals, and she weakened down the homestretch to win narrowly over the pace-tracking #5 Sinnin N Grinnin (5-1) and the late-running #6 Dicey (7-2). The latter gained three lengths through the final furlong to finish just one length away at the wire.

Dicey previously won a six-furlong allowance at Will Rogers Downs in her 2023 debut. And last fall, she came within a neck of catching Ragan’s Jet in the Oklahoma Classics Distaff Sprint S. at Remington Park. If Dicey gets more pace to chase in the Wilma Mankiller, she can step forward and turn the tables on Ragan’s Jet.

Taking advantage of the $10 Money Back Mondays promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Dicey. Then we’ll key her over Ragan’s Jet in a cold exacta.


  • #6 Dicey (7-2)
  • #1 Ragan’s Jet (5-2)
  • #5 Sinnin N Grinnin (5-1)


  • $10 to win on #6 Dicey
  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 1
    Total: $20

Turf Paradise: Race 5: $40,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/8 miles on turf, 6:20 p.m. ET)

#2 Cashanova (6-1) has obliterated his last two starts over the Turf Paradise lawn by margins of 7 1/2 lengths and 4 1/2 lengths, but those starts came against easier competition. Can he take down #4 The Right Stuff (5-2), who tracked a blazing pace before drawing off to dominate a $35,000 allowance optional claimer at Turf Paradise last month?

That’s a tough question, but not necessarily one we have to answer. Cashanova and The Right Stuff have a good chance to run 1-2 in one order or the other, so we’ll box them in the exacta (pressing the lower-paying combo with The Right Stuff on top) and call it a day.


  • #4 The Right Stuff (5-2)
  • #2 Cashanova (6-1)
  • #3 Brix (7-2)


  • $18 Exacta: 4 with 2
  • $12 Exacta: 2 with 4
    Total: $30

Turf Paradise: Race 8: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (7 1/2 furlongs on turf, 7:44 p.m. ET)

#1 Napoleonic Code (9-2) was tons the best in a $30,000 maiden optional claimer racing one mile over the Turf Paradise main track last month, leading all the way to win by 5 3/4 lengths. Switching to turf shouldn’t be a major concern; at Santa Anita last fall, Napoleonic Code flashed promising speed in a six-furlong maiden special weight before weakening to finish sixth.

Monday’s contest marks Napoleonic Code’s third start back from a layoff, a winning angle 32% of the time for trainer Justin Evans. Throw in the presence of hot jockey Luis Negron (a 29% winner teaming up with Evans over the last two months), and Napoleonic Code is an appealing win play.

#7 Special Moment (3-1), winner of the Startac S. over this course and distance in February, can complete the exacta.


  • #1 Napoleonic Code (9-2)
  • #7 Special Moment (3-1)
  • #3 Anotherforbrooks (4-1)


  • $15 to win on #1 Napoleonic Code
  • $15 Exacta: 1 with 7
    Total: $30

Good luck!