Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 11
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Tampa Bay Downs and Turfway Park, including horses to support in Turfway’s $453 Super High 5 carryover.
Picks and Plays
Tampa Bay Downs: Race 1: $5,000 Claiming (six furlongs, 12:31 p.m. ET)
#6 Kenya Sun (5-2) has been in strong form at Tampa Bay Downs for hot trainer Victor Barboza Jr., who has gone 7-for-17 (41%) at Tampa since December. After finishing second in a pair of $8,000 claimers, Kenya Sun employed pace-tracking tactics to score by 1 3/4 lengths over the same class level.
Those $8,000 claimers were restricted to horses who had never won three races. On Wednesday, Kenya Sun will tackle a $5,000 claimer for non-winners of two races since July 11. The conditions might be a little tougher, but the basic class level is easier, so Kenya Sun should have every chance to record a second straight win under hot jockey Samy Camacho.
#5 Mambo Dancer (2-1), runaway winner of a $5,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs at Tampa last month, can complete the exacta.
- #6 Kenya Sun (5-2)
- #5 Mambo Dancer (2-1)
- #1 Pure Elegance (4-1)
Turfway Park: Race 1: $7,500 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 5:55 p.m. ET)
#3 Queen of Chill (7-2) misfired in her first try over the Turfway Tapeta, pressing the pace in a $15,000 maiden claimer racing one mile before fading to finish last.
But Queen of Chill is cutting back in distance, dropping in class, and adding Lasix for her second start over the local surface, opening the door for an improved performance. Trainer Jonathan Wong wins at a lofty 32% rate with horses dropping multiple levels down the class ladder, and Queen of Chill will further benefit from the presence of hot apprentice jockey Walter Rodriguez, a 21% winner at Turfway who rides with a seven-pound weight allowance.
#1 Her Time Is Now (4-1) and #4 Pinky Tuscadero (3-1) can battle for exacta honors.
- #3 Queen of Chill (7-2)
- #4 Pinky Tuscadero (3-1)
- #1 Her Time Is Now (4-1)
- $18 to win on #3 Queen of Chill
- $6 Exacta: 3 with 1,4 ($12)
- Total: $30
Turfway Park: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on Tapeta, 7:55 p.m. ET)
There are many viable win contenders in this deep field of three-year-old fillies, but we’ll throw our support behind #8 Kate’s Concerto (5-1), who hails from the high-percentage barn of Brad Cox.
Kate’s Concerto debuted in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight over the Kentucky Downs turf course and ran well to finish fourth in a large field. The winner, American Apple, returned to win the Matron (G3) and finish a solid sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1). The runner-up, Twirled, has come back to win twice and finish second in the Fern Creek S.
Kate’s Concerto has since run twice against maiden special weight company on dirt, finishing second in a sprint at Horseshoe Indianapolis before running fifth in a route at Fair Grounds. The winner of the latter race was The Alys Look, subsequent runner-up in the Untapable S. on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
The takeaway? Kate’s Concerto has been facing tough competition and should have every chance to fire a winning shot while making her Tapeta debut at Turfway. Keep in mind, Kate’s Concerto is a half-sibling to three horses who won or placed in stakes on synthetic tracks.
A win bet on Kate’s Concerto will be our primary play, but we’ll also key her over #2 Bolts Babe (7-2) and #11 Miss Peabody (3-1) in the exacta.
- #8 Kate’s Concerto (5-1)
- #11 Miss Peabody (3-1)
- #2 Bolts Babe (7-2)
- $20 to win on #8 Kate’s Concerto
- $5 Exacta: 8 with 2,11 ($10)
Turfway Park, Race 8: $453 Super High 5 carryover (9:25 p.m. ET)
Another day, another massively difficult $1 Super High 5 to decipher at Turfway Park. Wednesday’s offering features a $453 non-jackpot carryover, adding a bit of betting value to the challenging wager.
As usual, the Super High 5 is available to play in the final race of the day. On Wednesday, that’s Race 8, an $8,000 claimer taking place over one mile on Tapeta. With 14 entries (including two on the also-eligible list), there are 240,240 possible Super High 5 outcomes before scratches.
The morning line favorite is #10 Joker On Jack (5-2), and there’s a lot to like about his chances. The six-year-old gelding has been facing much tougher competition than he’ll encounter on Wednesday, most notably running second by a nose in a $40,000 allowance optional claimer on Aug. 8 at Presque Isle Downs. He also has high-profile connections in his corner; trainer Wesley Ward has gone 7-for-17 (41%) at Turfway since the start of racing in November, while jockey Gerardo Corrales is winning at a 26% rate.
But Joker On Jack has misfired in his last two starts, most recently fading to finish 11th in a $50,000 allowance optional claimer at Turfway last month. With his form heading in the wrong direction, can Joker On Jack be trusted to deliver victory at a short price?
A better choice might be the nine-year-old veteran #3 Markitoff (3-1), who placed in a couple of graded stakes back in 2019. He wasn’t quite up to challenging in an $18,000 claimer at Turfway on New Year’s Day, finishing seventh after tracking the pace, but last month he hit the board in $8,000 and $5,000 starter allowance events at Turfway, earning competitive 81 Brisnet Speed ratings. Dropping from an $18,000 claimer into an $8,000 claimer should help Markitoff bounce back to peak form.
Another horse warranting serious respect is #9 Takafumi (3-1). He won an $8,000 claimer racing 1 1/16 miles at Turfway in November, then finished third and second when stepping up to the $12,500 level. Dropping back down in class can trigger a winning run, so we recommend betting Takafumi and Markitoff equally in the Super High 5, counting on one to win and the other to finish second while spreading deeper underneath.