Keeler Johnson's picks and plays March 13

March 13th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, March 13 at Mahoning Valley, Turf Paradise, and Will Rogers Downs, along with a horse to single in Turf Paradise’s $60,228 Pick 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Cheltenham Festival Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any eligible race at Cheltenham from March 14-17.

Picks and Plays

Mahoning Valley: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:04 p.m. ET)

#1 Indy Carr (8-5) has hit the board in four of his five starts over this class level, including a couple of contests at Mahoning Valley. He was particularly sharp in a six-furlong sprint on Feb. 14, rallying boldly from far off the pace to finish third by 1 3/4 lengths with a career-best 68 Brisnet Speed rating.

None of Indy Carr’s rivals have posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 63, and there should be enough speed in this large field to ensure that Indy Carr receives a fair pace to enhance his stretch rally. We’ll bet him over logical speedsters #10 Grande Red (2-1) and #2 Runaway Russell (6-1) in the exacta.


  • #1 Indy Carr (8-5)
  • #10 Grande Red (2-1)
  • #2 Runaway Russell (6-1)


  • $15 Exacta: 1 with 2,10 ($30)

Turf Paradise: Race 1: $4,500 Claiming (one mile, 4:25 p.m. ET)

#2 Lady Creative (1-1) ran second over this track, distance, and class level on Feb. 20, earning a career-best 66 Brisnet Speed rating. Monday’s field hasn’t come up especially deep on paper, so a repeat of her Feb. 20 performance should land Lady Creative in the winner’s circle. The fact she has tactical speed adds to the appeal, setting the stage for a perfect trip in this largely paceless race.

We’ll bet Lady Creative over #5 Sassy Einstein (3-1) in a cold exacta.


  • #2 Lady Creative (1-1)
  • #5 Sassy Einstein (3-1)
  • #4 Natural Immunity (15-1)


  • $25 Exacta: 2 with 5

Will Rogers Downs: Race 6: $7,500 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 4:35 p.m. ET)

#3 Pearl’s Code (2-1) debuted in a $7,500 maiden claimer at Sam Houston and rallied sharply to win the five-furlong sprint by one length. This effort produced a sharp 73 Brisnet Speed rating, and Pearl’s Code’s victory was flattered when both the runner-up and third-place finisher returned to win.

Pearl’s Code subsequently faltered to fourth place in a $25,000 claimer at Sam Houston, but dropping down to the $7,500 level against fellow Oklahoma-breds at Will Rogers Downs can trigger a rebound. None of her rivals have posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 68, and hot jockey Alex Birzer (4-for-12, 33% to start the meet) is named to ride.

#4 Sayaad Ain’t So (3-1), third and sixth in her last two starts against $15,000 and $12,500 claiming company, can complete the exacta in her 2023 debut.


  • #3 Pearl’s Code (2-1)
  • #4 Sayaad Ain’t So (3-1)
  • #5 Miss Coffeyville (7-2)


  • $25 Exacta: 3 with 4

Carryover Watch

Turf Paradise, Race 4: $60,228 Pick 5 carryover (5:52 p.m. ET)

The weekend went by without anyone hitting the 50-cent Pick 5 at Turf Paradise, which means Monday’s card features a double carryover worth $60,228. Talk about an enticing prize pool to start the new week!

Constructing a winning ticket is unlikely to be easy. The five-race sequence has drawn 40 entries before scratches, averaging eight horses per race. All told, there are 31,752 possible outcomes.

At first glance, there aren’t any obvious singles to build tickets around. But dig a little deeper, and an opportunity arises in Race 6, a $4,500 maiden claimer taking place over one mile on dirt.

The morning line favorite is #4 Armaveer (2-1), who finished third in a $4,500 maiden claimer on Feb. 26 at Turf Paradise, earning a 66 Brisnet Speed rating. It might seem odd to single a horse coming off a defeat over this class level, but that defeat came in a six-furlong sprint, and Armaveer gained 2 1/2 lengths through the final furlong to finish only one length behind the winner.

The truth is, Armaveer is much more experienced as a route runner. Prior to last month’s effort at Turf Paradise, Armaveer had competed in seven consecutive $20,000 maiden claimers on the Southern California circuit, hitting the board in six of them while earning sharp Brisnet Speed ratings of 80, 70, 76, 58, 67, 72, and 72. This is significant since none of his Monday rivals have ever posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 66.

Stretching back out over one mile should make Armaveer tough to beat, and adding to the appeal is the fact he has positive trainer stats in his corner. Armaveer was claimed out of his Feb. 26 effort by Curt Ferguson, a 23% winner at Turf Paradise this meet and a 23% winner with horses running back for the first time following a claim. Throw in jockey Karlo Lopez (a solid 16% winner at Turf Paradise this meet and a 25% winner teaming up with Ferguson over the last two months), and Armaveer is a logical Pick 5 single.

Good luck!