Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Jan. 31

January 31st, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Parx Racing and Sunland Park, including tickets for Sunland’s $1,297 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Trifecta Tuesday: Receive a 15% bonus on trifecta winnings excluding stake amount; up to $25 per day.

Picks and Plays

Parx Racing: Race 6: $10,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs, 2:10 p.m. ET)

#9 Secret Thunder (8-5) owns the two highest Brisnet Speed ratings in Tuesday’s field, having posted a 68 when finishing sixth in a $75,000 maiden claimer at Saratoga and a 72 when coming home fourth in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Aqueduct.

Most recently fifth in a $30,000 maiden claimer at Aqueduct, Secret Thunder figures to appreciate descending to the $10,000 maiden claiming level at Parx Racing. Trainer Danny Gargan wins at a 40% rate with horses dropping multiple levels down the class ladder and has gone 5-for-19 (26%) at Parx since 2018, stamping Secret Thunder as a deserving favorite.

#1 Blackwater Falls (5-1) and #3 Shiftinggears (9-2) can battle for places in the exacta and trifecta. We’ll play the latter ticket to capitalize on the Trifecta Tuesday promotion.


  • #9 Secret Thunder (8-5)
  • #1 Blackwater Falls (5-1)
  • #3 Shiftinggears (9-2)


  • $12 Exacta: 9 with 1, 3 ($24)
  • $3 Trifecta: 9 with 1, 3 with 1, 3 ($6)
    Total: $30

Sunland Park: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:25 p.m. ET)

#3 Diabolical Fire (9-5) showed promise in a couple of maiden special weights at Ruidoso and Albuquerque last summer, rallying to finish second on both occasions. Those efforts produced competitive Brisnet Speed ratings of 71 and 70.

Trainer Todd Fincher has been hot at Sunland, winning at a 25% rate, and Fincher strikes at a 30% rate in maiden special weights. Under the guidance of hot jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. (a 21% winner at Sunland), Diabolical Fire is the horse to beat.

We’ll single Diabolical Fire to kick off a double wager, then key him over #4 Flags Finale (5-2) in an exacta.


  • #3 Diabolical Fire (9-5)
  • #4 Flags Finale (5-2)
  • #6 Con Man Money (4-1)


  • $20 Double: 3 with 7
  • $10 Exacta: 3 with 4
  • Total: $30

Sunland Park: Race 2: $12,500 Maiden Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:51 p.m. ET)

#7 Winning Idea (2-1) looks ready to roll on debut for Fincher, a 25% winner with first-time starters. Winning Idea breezed a fast half-mile in :47 3/5 at Sunland last week and is slated to be ridden by Luis Fuentes, a 33% winner at Sunland who has gone 7-for-27 (26%) teaming up with Fincher over the last two months.

We’ll single Winning Idea to conclude our double wager. His class-dropping stablemate #1 What an Idea (3-1) can battle with #6 Shaman Chief (4-1) for exacta honors.


  • #7 Winning Idea (2-1)
  • #1 What an Idea (3-1)
  • #6 Shaman Chief (4-1)


  • $7 Exacta: 7 with 1, 6 ($14)

Carryover Watch

Sunland Park, Race 9: $1,297 Super High 5 carryover (6:00 p.m. ET)

The Tuesday card at Sunland Park features a $1,297 Super High 5 carryover. The 50-cent wager is available to play in Race 9, a six-furlong maiden special weight for fillies and mares bred in New Mexico.

The slim morning line favorite is #4 Lil Miss Cassie (3-1), and understandably so. Although she failed to fire in her Dec. 20 debut over this distance and class level at Zia Park, finishing sixth, the five-year-old mare stepped forwardly sharply in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight Jan. 3 at Sunland. After dueling for the early lead, Lil Miss Cassie stayed on to finish second, earning a 78 Brisnet Speed rating that tops Tuesday’s field

But don’t sleep on the chances of #7 Precious Pride (7-2), who hasn’t missed the board in three starts. Precious Pride finished third (ahead of Lil Miss Cassie) in the Dec. 20 maiden heat, then finished third again (one length behind Lil Miss Cassie) on Jan. 3. The four-year-old filly boasts competitive Brisnet Speed ratings of 71 and 76, placing her in win contention for hot trainer Joel Marr.

Nor can we dismiss the second Marr trainee, #1 Emotion N Devotion (5-1). She finished fifth on Dec. 20 and fourth Jan. 3, but in the latter contest she raced wide and came home only a neck behind Precious Pride. Adding blinkers offers potential for improvement, and a ground-saving trip may be in the offing from post 1. Throw in jockey Ken Tohill (a 27% winner at Sunland this meet), and you can make a case for Emotion N Devotion to claim top honors.

#10 Turn On Arch (4-1) debuted in the Dec. 20 maiden heat and rallied mildly after a slow start to finish fourth, behind Precious Pride but well clear of Lil Miss Cassie. If she moves forward in her second try for high-percentage trainer Todd Fincher (a 25% winner at Sunland), a top-three finish isn’t out of the question.

So how should we bet the Super High 5? We’ll count on Lil Miss Cassie, Precious Pride, Emotion N Devotion, and Turn On Arch to all finish in the top five, then we’ll spread a bit deeper for the remaining slot.

  • 50-cent Super High 5: 1, 4, 7 with 1, 4, 7 with 1, 4, 7, 10 with 1, 4, 7, 10 with 2, 3, 5, 8 ($24)
  • 50-cent Super High 5: 1, 4, 7 with 1, 4, 7 with 1, 4, 7, 10 with 2, 3, 5, 8 with 1, 4, 7, 10 ($24)
    Total: $48

Good luck!