Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Feb. 3

February 3rd, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Feb. 3 at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Winter Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races Friday through Sunday.

Picks and Plays

Fair Grounds: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (one mile and 70 yards, 4:45 p.m. ET)

#1 Jeeper (9-5) has cracked the trifecta in six of his eight starts against maiden special weight company, including six of his seven tries on dirt. On Jan. 1, the Keith Desormeaux trainee ran third in a 1 1/16-mile contest at Fair Grounds, beaten only by the next-out winners Bartulia and Maasai Warrior.

Jeeper has posted six Brisnet Speed ratings in the 80-86 range, a noteworthy achievement since none of his Friday rivals have posted a number higher than 79 in the last year. A typical performance from Jeeper should be sufficient to visit the winner’s circle.

#2 Wolf Hunter (6-1) and #4 Celluloid Hero (3-1) can battle for exacta honors, but our primary play is a cold double wager singling Jeeper in the first leg.


  • #1 Jeeper (9-5)
  • #2 Wolf Hunter (6-1)
  • #4 Celluloid Hero (3-1)


  • $20 Double: 1 with 1
  • $5 Exacta box: 1 with 2,4 ($10)
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (about 1 1/16 miles on turf, 5:15 p.m. ET)

#1 Desert Duke (3-1) ran strongly in an about 1 1/8-mile contest over this course and class level on Jan. 6. Making his turf and route debut, the son of acclaimed turf sire Kitten’s Joy tracked a slow pace from third place, rallied to lead in midstretch, and ultimately settled for second place by a nose.

Desert Duke was a bit unlucky not to win and should have every chance to graduate on Friday. Keep in mind, trainer Chris Hartman wins at a 20% rate with horses competing on turf for the second time.

We’ll single Desert Duke to conclude our double wager, then key him over #7 Deccan Prince (9-2) and #8 Wonderful Justice (5-2) in the exacta.


  • #1 Desert Duke (3-1)
  • #7 Deccan Prince (9-2)
  • #8 Wonderful Justice (5-2)


  • $15 Exacta: 1 with 7,8 ($30)

Turfway Park: Race 4: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 7:25 p.m. ET)

#9 Magnificent Mile (9-5) nearly won over this course, distance, and class level on Dec. 11. Making his Tapeta debut, Magnificent Mile overcame a stumbling start to rally gamely and finish second by a head.

Magnificent Mile was claimed out of that race by trainer William Cowans, who has gone 7-for-18 (39%) at Turfway since Nov. 30. If Magnificent Mile gets off to a sharper start on Friday, he can rally to the winner’s circle under jockey Luan Machado, who has won at a 31% rate teaming up with Cowans over the last two months.

#3 Go Berti (6-1), #7 Go for It (8-1), and #10 Life and Light (5-1) are the three we’ll include in the exacta.


  • #9 Magnificent Mile (9-5)
  • #10 Life and Light (10-1)
  • #3 Go Berti (6-1)


  • $10 Exacta: 9 with 3,7,10 ($30)