Keeler Johnson's picks and plays March 15

March 15th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, March 15 at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, including a horse to single in the $4,997 Pick 6 carryover at Fair Grounds.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Winning Wednesdays: Get a 25% boost on your winning win wagers (excluding stake amount; maximum $50 bonus per day) when you bet Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park on Wednesdays.

Picks and Plays

Fair Grounds: Race 2: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs, 2:45 p.m. ET)

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for these conditions is 80, a number none of the experienced runners in this field have reached. Therefore, we’ll take a shot supporting the first-time starter #2 Tapistar (3-1).

A gelded son of Tapizar (who sires a solid 12% winners from first-time starters), Tapistar showed speed when breezing a bullet half-mile from the Fair Grounds starting gate in :47 2/5 on March 5. He won’t have to be a superstar to vie for victory on debut for trainer Bret Calhoun, a 24% winner at Fair Grounds this meet.

A win bet on Tapistar will be our primary play, followed by an exacta using #4 Roulette (7-2) and #5 Justforspeightofit (9-2) for second place.


  • #2 Tapistar (3-1)
  • #4 Roulette (7-2)
  • #5 Justforspeightofit (9-2)


  • $20 to win on #2 Tapistar
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 4,5 ($10)
    Total: $30

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

#5 Golden Survivor (8-5) rarely finishes out of the trifecta, even while competing against tougher competition than he’ll encounter on Wednesday. The four-year-old gelding ran third by 1 1/2 lengths in a $7,500 claimer at Turfway two starts back, then finished third by six lengths in a $15,000-$10,000 claimer over the same track.

Descending to the $5,000 claiming level can send Golden Survivor to the winner’s circle for trainer Jonathan Wong, a lofty 32% winner with horses dropping multiple levels down the class ladder. We’ll bet Golden Survivor to win and single him to start a double wager.


  • #5 Golden Survivor (8-5)
  • #10 Master Lea (10-1)
  • #8 Maqamat (12-1)


  • $20 to win on #5 Golden Survivor
  • $10 Double: 5 with 10
    Total: $30

Turfway Park: Race 4: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 7:25 p.m. ET)

#10 Hold My Crown (4-1) competed twice against maiden special weight company on turf last year, finishing fifth in a 5 1/2-furlong dash at Ellis Park and fourth traveling seven furlongs at Kentucky Downs.

Hold My Crown has been freshened since September and is dropping in class for her Tapeta debut. Trainer William Walden (a 19% winner at Turfway this meet) wins at a 33% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and Hold My Crown is eligible to improve while racing on Lasix for the first time.

Let’s bet Hold My Crown to win and single her to conclude our double wager.


  • #10 Hold My Crown (4-1)
  • #7 Stellar Legacy (6-1)
  • #12 Three Sport Coats (8-1)


  • $20 to win on #10 Hold My Crown

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds, Race 4: $4,997 Pick 6 carryover (3:45 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Fair Grounds gets underway on Wednesday with a $4,997 non-jackpot carryover up for grabs in the $1 Pick 6.

A challenging sequence is on tap. Every race contains at least eight horses. Even if you exclude the five also-eligible entrants in Race 8, the six-race sequence contains 59 entries (averaging 9.8 per race) and 811,008 possible outcomes.

The best chance for a single may come right off the bat in Race 4, a $12,500 maiden claimer taking place over one mile and 70 yards on dirt. And believe it or not, the horse we’re looking to single is #1 Father Red (5-2).

It might seem strange to single a horse like Father Red, considering he’s a grass runner who has never competed on turf. But the surface switch opens the door for a winning effort.

Father Red has been competing against tougher competition than he’ll encounter on Wednesday. He debuted in a one-mile maiden special weight at Aqueduct and finished 10th after tracking the pace. Then he finished fifth in a $40,000 maiden claimer over 5 1/2 furlongs at Laurel before improving to fourth place in a $25,000 maiden claimer dashing five furlongs at Sam Houston.

As a son of Quality Road out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Maraschino Red, Father Red is bred to shine on dirt. Both his sire and his dam sire won multiple Grade 1 races on dirt, while Maraschino Red is the dam of Hidden Treat, whose dirt exploits include a victory in the Sandpiper S.

Trainer Michael Stidham (a 22% winner at Fair Grounds this meet) strikes at a strong 26% rate with horses dropping multiple levels down the class ladder, so descending from a $25,000 claimer into a $12,500 claimer should enhance Father Red’s chances. He already owns the highest Brisnet Speed rating in Wednesday’s field, so any move forward should make Father Red tough to beat. Throw in the fact the rail post has produced 19% winners racing one mile and 70 yards over the Fair Grounds main track this meet, and Father Red is a viable single.

Good luck!