Keeler Johnson's picks and plays March 16

March 16th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, March 16 at Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds, and Turfway Park, along with horses to play in carryovers at Fair Grounds and Turfway.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Turfway Park $2,500 Thursday Leaderboard Contest: Place $10+ win bets at Turfway Park on Thursdays from Jan. 5 through March 30 to earn points and compete for your share of a $2,500 weekly jackpot.
  • 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

Gulfstream Park: Race 8: $75,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (seven furlongs, 4:07 p.m. ET)

#2 Gold Magic (2-1) impressed in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Gulfstream last month. The son of Good Magic tracked the pace before seizing command to dominate a maiden special weight by 2 3/4 lengths, earning a sharp 90 Brisnet Speed rating.

Stretching out over seven furlongs should only help Gold Magic’s chances, so we’ll bet him to win and play him over #1 Live Is Life (6-1) and #7 Great Navigator (4-1) in the exacta.


  • #2 Gold Magic (2-1)
  • #1 Live Is Life (6-1)
  • #7 Great Navigator (4-1)


  • $20 to win on #2 Gold Magic
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 1,7
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 5:15 p.m. ET)

#5 Peacock Alley (5-2) debuts with a promising work tab under her belt. On Feb. 21, she clocked five furlongs at Fair Grounds in 1:00 3/5. On March 3, she traveled the same distance from the Fair Grounds starting gate in an even quicker 1:00 2/5.

Under hot jockey Florent Geroux (a 33% winner at Fair Grounds this meet), Peacock Alley is a threat to visit the winner’s circle, even while squaring off against older rivals. We’ll bet her to win and key her over #1 Dial Toni (4-1) and #4 The Princess Says (3-1) in the exacta.


  • #5 Peacock Alley (5-2)
  • #1 Dial Toni (4-1)
  • #4 The Princess Says (3-1)


  • $18 to win on #5 Peacock Alley
  • $6 Exacta: 5 with 1,4 ($12)
    Total: $30

Turfway Park: Race 5: $40,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 7:55 p.m. ET)

#6 Royal County (10-1) broke her maiden at Turfway Park back in December 2021, dominating a six-furlong maiden special weight by 6 3/4 lengths. More recently, Royal County returned to Turfway to rally and win a $25,000 claimer over the same distance by 3 1/4 lengths. The runner-up returned to win her next start, flattering Royal County’s performance.

Royal County’s proven affinity for Turfway stamps her as an intriguing longshot play against tougher competition on Thursday. At 10-1, we’ll bet her to win and key her over #10 Laugh and Play (3-1) and #3 Your So Sillea (7-2) in the exacta.


  • #6 Royal County (10-1)
  • #10 Laugh and Play (3-1)
  • #3 Your So Sillea (7-2)


  • $20 to win on #6 Royal County
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 3,10 ($10)
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds, Race 4: $8,119 Pick 6 carryover (3:45 p.m. ET)

If you want to win a share of the $8,119 Pick 6 carryover up for grabs on Thursday at Fair Grounds, you’ll have to decipher a sequence containing 51 horses (averaging 8.5 per race) and 422,400 possible outcomes before scratches.

Finding a viable single is surely the best place to begin, and #2 Mangelsen (9-5) in Race 5 seems like a suitable choice. Race 5 is a $20,000 allowance optional claimer taking place over about one mile on turf, conditions that appear perfect for Mangelsen.

Indeed, Mangelsen boasts a 5-for-9 record over the Fair Grounds turf course, including a 2 1/4-length victory over this distance and class level on Jan. 20. Mangelsen has a ton of early speed and has won at the stakes level, so he should be tough to run down for hot trainer Ron Faucheux, a 24% winner at Fair Grounds this meet. In a competitive Pick 6 sequence, Mangelsen is an appealing single.

Turfway Park, Race 8: $1,797 Super High 5 carryover (9:25 p.m. ET)

On Thursday at Turfway Park, a $1,797 Super High 5 carryover will be dispersed in the final race on the card.

The evening finale is Race 8, a $7,500 claimer for horses who have never won three races. The distance is 6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, which should perfectly suit morning line favorite #11 West Warpath (6-5).

West Warpath spent his first 12 starts competing on dirt and turf before switching to Tapeta for a trio of starts at Turfway this winter, all against non-winners-of-three company. On Dec. 14, he finished third in a $15,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs. On Jan. 7, he finished a stronger third in a 6 1/2-furlong dash over the same class level, beaten 1 1/4 lengths while earning a career-best 83 Brisnet Speed rating. And on Feb. 2, he finished second in a $7,500 claimer.

West Warpath was claimed out of the latter contest by Mark Simms Jr., a lofty 25% winner with horses running back for the first time following a claim. West Warpath stands out against Thursday’s field in terms of recent Brisnet Speed ratings, so he’s a logical choice to key on top in the Super High 5.

Good luck!