Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 20

January 20th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Jan. 20 at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, including a single for the $2,637 Pick 6 carryover at Fair Grounds and tickets for Turfway’s $3,615 Super High 5 carryover.

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.
  • Kentucky Derby Week Bankroll Builder: Wager at least $50+ during the duration of the remaining Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pools and receive bonus funds to wager during Kentucky Derby week, May 2-6.

Picks and Plays

Fair Grounds: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 3:45 p.m. ET)

#5 Julia’s Warrior (3-1) ran okay in his Nov. 27 debut over this track, distance, and class level. The son of Outwork stayed in touch with the early pace, dropped seven lengths behind with a quarter-mile remaining, and then re-rallied to finish fourth by three lengths.

That effort produced a 75 Brisnet Speed rating, tied for the highest number in Friday’s field. Julia’s Warrior has since been gelded and looks ready to win second time out for trainer Sean Alfortish, who has gone 4-for-11 (36%) at Fair Grounds this meet.

#3 Rate Confirmation (5-2) and #4 Booster Shot (3-1) can battle for exacta honors, but first we’ll bet Julia’s Warrior to win and single him to start a double wager.


  • #5 Julia’s Warrior (3-1)
  • #4 Booster Shot (3-1)
  • #3 Rate Confirmation (5-2)


  • $16 to win on #5 Julia’s Warrior
  • $10 Double: 5 with 1
  • $7 Exacta: 5 with 3,4 ($14)
    Total: $40

Fair Grounds: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:15 p.m. ET)

#1 Righteous Freedom (5-2) looks ready to roll in this six-furlong dash for Louisiana-bred three-year-olds. After debuting with a fifth-place finish over the Gulfstream Park Tapeta track back in August, Righteous Freedom returned in December to run fourth in a contest over Friday’s track, distance, and class level.

Righteous Freedom showed speed at Fair Grounds and posted a sharp 76 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest number in Friday’s field by a clear margin. Trainer Louis Roussel III wins at an excellent 22% rate with horses running back for the second time following a layoff, so with hot jockey Jareth Loveberry in the saddle, Righteous Freedom is the horse to beat.

#4 Custom Cadillac (9-2) and #5 Lordy Lordy (3-1) are the two we’ll add for an exacta.


  • #1 Righteous Freedom (5-2)
  • #5 Lordy Lordy (3-1)
  • #4 Custom Cadillac (9-2)


  • $30 to win on #1 Righteous Freedom

Turfway Park: Race 3: $25,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/8 miles on Tapeta, 6:55 p.m. ET)

#12 Ajourneytofreedom (4-1) placed a couple of times at the graded stakes level in 2021, and he ran second in a 1 1/2-mile allowance optional claimer at Saratoga last summer, so he’s capable of holding his own against quality competition. And while he’s competed almost exclusively on turf in recent years, Ajourneytofreedom also boasts a 2-for-7 record over the Golden Gate Fields Tapeta track.

Ajourneytofreedom is dropping in class at Turfway and should have every chance to win, though he’s facing a formidable rival in the form of #8 Policy Option (7-2). The son of Empire Maker has run second in his last two starts over this track and class level, earning sharp Brisnet Speed ratings of 92 and 90.

Let’s box Ajourneytofreedom and Policy Option in the exacta, hoping for them to run 1-2 in either order.


  • #12 Ajourneytofreedom (4-1)
  • #3 Policy Option (7-2)
  • #1 Tiberius Mercurius (9-2)


  • $10 Exacta box: 3,12 ($20)

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds, Race 3: $2,637 Pick 6 carryover (3:15 p.m. ET)

Want to pursue a non-jackpot Pick 6 carryover? Then you’re advised to check out Fair Grounds, where Friday’s $1 Pick 6 boasts a $2,637 prize pool.

The best single possibility is probably the above-mentioned #1 Righteous Freedom (5-2) in Race 5. He owns by far the best Brisnet Speed rating in the field, so unless one of the first-time starters jumps forward with a big run on debut, Righteous Freedom figures to cruise home on top.

Turfway Park, Race 8: $3,615 Super High 5 carryover (9:25 p.m. ET)

There’s a $3,615 Super High 5 carryover available to chase on Friday at Turfway Park, and mathematically speaking, the $1 wager is more manageable than usual.

The Super High 5 is available to bet in the final race each evening, and normally the card-closing event features at least 12 entries. But Friday’s finale (Race 8) is a $5,000 claimer with only 11 entries. A difference of one horse might not seem like a lot, but it drops the number of possible Super High 5 outcomes from 95,040 to 55,440. That’s a significant decrease.

So who’s the horse to beat in Friday’s six-furlong dash? Definitely #8 Hillbilly Logic (1-1), the clear favorite on the morning line. Whereas his rivals have exceeded the 73 Brisnet Speed rating plateau only once from a combined 83 starts, Hillbilly Logic boasts ratings of 79, 81, 80, and 78 from just six starts.

Hillbilly Logic threw down the 78 when finishing third in a $40,000 maiden optional claimer at Woodbine back in May, his most recent start. Ultra-hot trainer Wesley Ward has gone 11-for-26 (42%) at Turfway since Nov. 30 and wins at a 25% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, so Hillbilly Logic figures to be cranked for a winning run under hot apprentice jockey Walter Rodriguez, who rides with a five-pound weight allowance.

Beyond the favorite, we have to respect #2 Doc Rock (4-1), who has been freshened since finishing sixth in a deep $30,000-$24,000 maiden claimer over the Laurel Park turf course during the summer. Hot trainer Larry Rivelli wins at a lofty 37% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and star Turfway jockey Gerardo Corrales is named to ride.

Nor can we dismiss #6 Kick Rocks Kid (10-1) as a live longshot. He finished second in a 6 1/2-furlong dash over this track and class level on Jan. 1, so we know this speedy four-year-old is a good fit for Friday’s conditions.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • $1 Super High 5: 8 with 2,6 with 2,6 with 3,10 with 1,3,4,5,9,10 ($20)
  • $1 Super High 5: 8 with 2,6 with 3,10 with 2,6 with 1,3,4,5,9,10 ($20)
    Total: $40

Good luck!