Keeler Johnson's picks and plays March 21

March 21st, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, March 21 at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise, along with horses to play in Pick 5 and Super High 5 carryovers at Sunland Park.

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

Will Rogers Downs: Race 1: $15,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile, 2:00 p.m. ET)

#1 Treasure Coast (1-1) finished second in a six-furlong contest over this class level at Sam Houston two starts back, then shipped to Will Rogers Downs and ran second in a one-mile maiden special weight. Sticking to one mile and dropping back down in class can trigger a winning run under hot jockey Alex Birzer, who has gone 8-for-25 (32%) to start the Will Rogers Downs meet.

#2 Goldbridge (4-5), runner-up in a $7,500 maiden claimer at Will Rogers Downs one week ago, can complete a cold exacta.


  • #1 Treasure Coast (1-1)
  • #2 Goldbridge (4-5)
  • #3 Stapleton Song (12-1)


  • $30 Exacta: 1 with 2

Will Rogers Downs: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 3:35 p.m. ET)

#6 Spell Freedom (9-5) showed some ability when debuting in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Sam Houston last month, keeping in touch with the early pace before staying on to finish third with a respectable 69 Brisnet Speed rating. His performance was flattered when the runner-up returned to win his next start.

Sam Houston shippers are doing well at Will Rogers Downs this meet, so we’ll bet Spell Freedom on top of #5 Nordic Queen (2-1) in the exacta.


  • #6 Spell Freedom (9-5)
  • #5 Nordic Queen (2-1)
  • #3 Rainbows Are Free (4-1)


  • $30 Exacta: 6 with 5

Turf Paradise: Race 5: $30,000 Maiden Optional Claiming (7 1/2 furlongs on turf, 6:20 p.m. ET)

#8 Baron’s Song (4-1) probably wasn’t going to win a one-mile contest over this course and class level on March 6; after vying for early command and battling to the lead at the eighth pole, Baron’s Song appeared to have less punch for the final furlong than eventual winner Air Jock.

But Baron’s Song didn’t do himself any favors by jumping tracks across the turf course at the sixteenth pole, in the process losing momentum. The fact Baron’s Song stayed on to finish second by 1 3/4 lengths is a testament to his talent.

Baron’s Song is adding blinkers for his second turf try. Assuming he runs cleanly down the homestretch, he can take home top honors over #4 Transitory (5-1), #3 Capiat (6-1), and #2 Westerberg (7-2).


  • #8 Baron’s Song (4-1)
  • #4 Transitory (5-1)
  • #3 Capiat (6-1)


  • $18 to win on #8 Baron’s Song
  • $4 Exacta: 8 with 2,3,4 ($12)
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Sunland Park, Race 5: $601 Pick 5 carryover (4:09 p.m. ET)
Sunland Park, Race 9: $129 Super High 5 carryover (6:00 p.m. ET)

The prize pools aren’t gigantic, but Sunland Park has tossed up a couple of non-jackpot carryovers for Tuesday’s card. The 50-cent Pick 5 boasts a $601 carryover, while the 50-cent Super High 5 features a $129 carryover.

The Pick 5 sequence looks challenging on paper. At least eight horses have entered each race, and there are 48 entries in total, equating to 79,200 possible outcomes.

If you’re looking for a viable single to build Pick 5 tickets around, check out Race 5, a $5,000 claimer for New Mexico-bred runners who have never won three races. The distance is five furlongs on dirt, a configuration that should suit the speedy #3 Jazz Man Do (2-1).

Jazz Man Do couldn’t quite hang on in a $10,000 claimer for non-winners of three races on March 7, setting the pace before fading in the homestretch to finish fifth in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint. But two starts back, Jazz Man Do ran second over the same track and distance in a $7,500 claimer for non-winners of three races, beaten half a length while earning a career-best 82 Brisnet Speed rating.

Cutting back to five furlongs shouldn’t bother Jazz Man Do (it might even help him), and trainer Casey Lambert wins at a decent 14% rate with horses dropping multiple levels down the class ladder. None of Jazz Man Do’s Tuesday rivals have earned a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 82, so in a competitive sequence, this chestnut gelding might be the most logical single.

As for the Super High 5, it’s available to play in Race 9, a $5,000 claimer taking place over one mile on dirt. There are many viable contenders, but #8 Stock Deal (7-2) might be a horse to key on top. He’s improved steadily in three starts at Sunland Park this year, most recently rallying to finish third by a neck in a $7,500 maiden claimer racing one mile and 70 yards.

That effort produced a sharp 81 Brisnet Speed rating. Dropping down to the $5,000 claiming level might be all Stock Deal needs to visit the winner’s circle.

Good luck!