Friday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Churchill’s $6,615 Super High 5 carryover

May 17th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Friday, May 17 at Churchill Downs, Pimlico, and Santa Anita, including tickets for Churchill’s $6,615 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • 10x Points on Harness Racing: Receive 10x reward points on all harness racing wagers (excluding show bets) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Churchill Downs: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs, 1:43 p.m. ET)

Trainer Norm Casse does excellent work debuting juveniles in April and May at Churchill Downs. Since 2021, he’s gone 4-for-9 (44%) with such runners.

Therefore, we’re confident Casse’s unraced juvenile filly #7 Slang (9-2) will fire a big shot on debut. A daughter of multiple Grade 1 winner Omaha Beach (who sires 20% winners from first-time starters), Slang showed speed when breezing a quick half-mile in :47 4/5 at Churchill Downs. And she’s slated to be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., who has gone 9-for-24 (38%) teaming up with Casse over the last two months.

But we also have to respect #4 Anakarina (4-1), a first-time starter from the barn of Dallas Stewart, who has gone 4-for-7 (57%) debuting juveniles during the first half of the year at Churchill Downs since 2020. A daughter of the multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter/miler Vekoma, Anakarina clocked half a mile in :47 2/5 at Churchill last month and looms as another viable win threat.

Let’s try to crush a big payoff by boxing Slang and Anakarina in the exacta.


  • #7 Slang (9-2)
  • #4 Anakarina (4-1)
  • #6 Swiftwind (5-1)


  • $10 Exacta: box 4,7 ($20)

Pimlico: Race 10: Miss Preakness (G3, six furlongs, 4:07 p.m. ET)

The form of #7 Carmelina (12-1) has been muddied a bit by a runner-up finish in the one-mile Busher S. and a seventh-place effort in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle (G3). But running long against Road to the Kentucky Oaks competition probably wasn’t suitable for the daughter of Maximus Mischief.

Carmelina is bred for speed, has set the pace in seven of her eight starts, and is 4-for-5 sprinting. She’s won three sprint stakes, most notably wiring the seven-furlong Gin Talking S. at Laurel Park by two lengths. Cutting back to six furlongs for the Miss Preakness should be right in Carmelina’s wheelhouse.

At 12-1, Carmelina is worth betting to win and playing over three-time stakes winner #3 Youalmosthadme (2-1) in the exacta.


  • #7 Carmelina (12-1)
  • #3 Youalmosthadme (2-1)
  • #5 Lady Moscato (6-1)


  • $20 to win on #7 Carmelina
  • $5 Exacta: 7 with 3
    Total: $25

Santa Anita: Race 5: $150,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile, 6:07 p.m. ET)

#3 In Theory (2-1) had trouble when finishing third in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance at Santa Anita last month. She stumbled at the start, then unleashed a steady bid to regain lost ground and challenge for the lead in midstretch. She ultimately tired from her exertions to finish third by three lengths.

In Theory had previously won her debut sprinting six furlongs at Santa Anita in gate-to-wire fashion, defeating older rivals by three lengths. If she breaks cleanly while facing four other three-year-old fillies in this one-mile allowance optional claimer, In Theory can shake loose on an easy lead and bounce back to the winner’s circle.


  • #3 In Theory (2-1)
  • #2 Jane Austen (9-5)
  • #5 Grazia (3-1)


  • $30 to win on #3 In Theory

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs: Race 1: $6,615 Super High 5 carryover (12:45 p.m. ET)

The Friday card at Churchill Downs is highlighted by a $6,615 carryover in the $1 Super High 5.

The prize pool is available to chase right off the bat in Race 1, a $50,000 maiden claimer for three-year-olds and older horses racing a one-turn mile on dirt. Eight horses have turned out, and one of them—morning line favorite #1 Special Dispatch (9-5)—looks worthy of building tickets around.

Special Dispatch has competed against maiden special weight company in all five of his starts. He’s been running on turf as of late, rallying to finish second racing about one mile at Fair Grounds before fading from a few lengths off the pace to run eighth in a one-mile contest at Keeneland. But three starts back, Special Dispatch finished second by 2 1/2 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight over the Fair Grounds dirt.

That fine try yielded an 88 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest number in Friday’s field by 10 points. Trainer Kenny McPeek wins at a 21% rate with horses tackling the maiden claiming ranks for the first time, and jockey Julien Leparoux has won at a 22% rate teaming up with McPeek over the last two months, so the stage is set for Special Dispatch to shine while dropping in class.

We recommend keying Special Dispatch on top in the Super High 5. Underneath, a variety of horses are worth considering. #2 Coach Campbell (8-1) is adding blinkers and dropping in class out of maiden special weights. #3 Lebombo (8-1) is doing the same. #6 Maliblue (4-1) showed speed in a $50,000 maiden claimer sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill and may improve while stretching out in distance, and #7 Drobny (7-2) could certainly snatch a top-five finish after placing second in a $50,000 maiden claimer during the winter at Fair Grounds. Of this quartet, we’ll give a slight preference to Coach Campbell and Maliblue.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • $1 Super High 5: 1 with 2,6 with 2,3,6,7 with 2,3,5,6,7,8 with 2,3,5,6,7,8 ($72)

Good luck!