Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 13

January 13th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Jan. 13 at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, and Turfway, including horses to single in the $2,201 Pick 6 carryover at Fair Grounds.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Fair Grounds $1,000 Late Pick 5 Hit It and Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Fair Grounds on any day of live racing from Jan. 5-31 (excluding Jan. 21) to win your share of a daily $1,000 bonus jackpot.
  • 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

Oaklawn Park: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:24 p.m. ET)

#6 Shuffle Dance (8-1) has trained with promise for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Twice in the last month he’s breezed five furlongs from the Oaklawn starting gate, getting the distance in 1:00 3/5 on Dec. 20 and again in 1:00 3/5 (the bullet clocking) on Dec. 30.

Shuffle Dance is a three-year-old facing older rivals on debut, but with hot jockey Ricardo Santana (a 23% winner at Oaklawn) in the saddle, Shuffle Dance appears poised to exceed expectations. We’ll try betting the son of Nyquist to win and keying him over #1 Town Branch (7-2) and #3 Plausible Denile (3-1) in the exacta.


  • #6 Shuffle Dance (8-1)
  • #1 Town Branch (7-2)
  • #3 Plausible Denile (3-1)


  • $20 to win on #6 Shuffle Dance (8-1)
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 1,3 ($10)
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 7: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles on turf, 5:15 p.m. ET)

The recent form of #1 Soft Touch (9-2) has been muddied a bit by a third-place finish over the Turfway Park Tapeta track and a 10th-place run in a 1 1/2-mile turf allowance at Keeneland. But last summer, the Godolphin homebred won a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight and a 1 3/16-mile, $25,000 allowance optional claimer over the Colonial Downs turf course, on both occasions showing tactical and even pacesetting speed.

Returning to turf and negotiating a favorable distance can send Soft Touch to the winner’s circle for trainer Michael Stidham and jockey Florent Geroux, whose respective win rates at Fair Grounds this meet stand at 26% and 36%.

#4 Flatter Me Silly (9-2) and #5 Trail Ridge Road (5-1) can battle for exacta honors.


  • #1 Soft Touch (9-2)
  • #4 Flatter Me Silly (9-2)
  • #5 Trail Ridge Road (5-1)


  • $20 to win on #1 Soft Touch
  • $5 Exacta: 1 with 4,5 ($10)
    Total: $30

Turfway Park: Race 3: $5,000 Maiden Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 6:55 p.m. ET)

#8 Rich Relations (7-5) debuted in a $7,500 maiden claimer 11 months ago at Turfway and ran well in defeat, tracking the pace from second place before staying on to finish fourth by 1 1/2 lengths. This effort produced a 71 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest number in Friday’s field by five points.

Rich Relations is conditioned by red-hot trainer Wesley Ward, a 43% winner at Turfway since Nov. 30. Ward wins at a 25% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and Rich Relations enters off a bullet half-mile workout from the Turfway starting gate, so all signs suggest this five-year-old mare is ready to fire a winning shot under hot apprentice jockey Walter Rodriguez.

#3 Pantalones Enfuego (8-1) and #9 Mom’s Kingdom (9-5) are the two we’ll toss into the mix for exacta purposes.


  • #8 Rich Relations (7-5)
  • #3 Pantalones Enfuego (8-1)
  • #9 Mom’s Kingdom (9-5)


  • $12 Exacta: 8 with 9
  • $8 Exacta: 8 with 3
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds, Race 3: $2,201 Pick 6 carryover (4:15 p.m. ET)

Thursday was a day for upsets at Fair Grounds, resulting in a $2,201 carryover for the $1 Pick 6.

Planning to play along and looking for singles to build tickets around? You might consider the above-mentioned #1 Soft Touch (9-2), who looks like a formidable contender in Race 7. The Godolphin homebred isn’t necessarily unbeatable, but she seems a much more likely winner than her 9-2 morning line odds suggest. If Soft Touch comes home on top as an ambitious single, she’ll offer a lot of value in the Pick 6.

A shorter-priced single candidate is #2 Why Behave (7-5) in Race 5, a $15,000 claimer for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on dirt. Conditioned by hot trainer Tom Amoss (a 26% winner at Fair Grounds this meet, Why Behave ran strongly in a $15,000 claimer over this track and distance on Dec. 8, dueling for much of the race before taking command in the final furlong to score by 1 1/4 lengths over #3 Sikum (4-1).

Sikum was able to save more ground than Why Behave while racing inside of her rival on Dec. 8, but the tables figure to be turned on Friday since Why Behave has drawn inside of Sikum this time. Why Behave appears poised to win right back under jockey Edgar Morales, a 25% winner teaming up with Amoss over the last two months.

We’ll also highlight #6 Path to Success (7-2) as a horse worth supporting in Race 3, a $30,000 claimer taking place over 1 1/16 miles on dirt. Only six horses have been entered, and the only one who has shown any early speed in recent starts is Path to Success. The four-year-old gelding often presses or tracks the pace, and he’s run some of his better races when leading the way.

Path to Success seems likely to secure an uncontested lead on Friday, opening the door for a winning run. Stretch-running #3 Seeking Splendor (4-1) finished two lengths clear of Path to Success in a $30,000 claimer at Fair Grounds last month, suggesting both horses warrant inclusion in the Pick 6. But don’t be surprised if Path to Success gets out in front and forgets to stop.

Good luck!