Friday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Minty can win second start

June 7th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Friday, June 7 at Saratoga and Churchill Downs, along with horses to play in Super High 5 carryovers at Churchill and Belterra Park.

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.
  • Hastings Racecourse $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any eligible race at Hastings Racecourse each racing day in June.
  • Churchill Downs Selected Races $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in selected races at Churchill Downs every Friday through Sunday.
  • Belmont Stakes Week $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any eligible race at Saratoga from Thursday through Sunday.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Saratoga: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (seven furlongs, 12:20 p.m. ET)

#1 Trulli Warrior (7-2) has been working up a storm over the Belmont Park training track. The three-year-old Todd Pletcher trainee breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on May 12, traveled half a mile from the starting gate in :47 4/5 on May 18, and then clocked another half-mile gate move in a bullet :46 2/5 last Friday.

It’s not every day you see an unraced Pletcher trainee work half a mile in :46 2/5. I’m willing to bet this well-bred son of Curlin is a star in the making, and the fact he’ll be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione (who has gone 2-for-2 teaming up with Pletcher over the last two months) adds to the appeal.

Let’s bet Trulli Warrior to win and single him to start a double wager.


  • #1 Trulli Warrior (7-2)
  • #4 Illuminare (4-1)
  • #7 Clever Mischief (4-1)


  • $22 to win on #1 Trulli Warrior
  • $8 Double: 1 with 1
    Total: $30

Saratoga: Race 2: $62,500 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/4 miles, 12:53 p.m. ET)

#1 Arthur’s Ride (3-1) completely misfired in an $80,000 allowance optional claimer racing one mile at Churchill Downs last month. He failed to show his typical early speed and faded after making a mid-race move to finish ninth by nearly two-dozen lengths.

But that race took place over a sloppy track, and perhaps Arthur’s Ride didn’t care for the footing. He’d previously wired a $25,000 allowance optional claimer racing one mile at Gulfstream by 7 1/2 lengths, earning a sharp 95 Brisnet Speed rating. If Arthur’s Ride catches a fast track on Friday, he can rebound in a big way for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. His pedigree suggests stretching out over 1 1/4 miles won’t be an issue.

In addition to a win bet on Arthur’s Ride, we’ll single him to conclude our double wager.


  • #1 Arthur’s Ride (3-1)
  • #9 Tapit Shoes (8-1)
  • #5 Leading Contender (5-2)


  • $20 to win on #1 Arthur’s Ride

Churchill Downs: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:13 p.m. ET)

#8 Minty (4-1) ran a fine race when debuting in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs last month. After tracking the early pace in third place, she stayed on to finish second behind flashy gate-to-wire winner Long Neck Paula.

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse wins at a 17% rate with second-time starters, and Minty has worked a swift half-mile in :47 2/5 since her debut, so the evidence suggests another strong showing is in the offing for Friday. Her 4-1 morning line odds are enticing, so we’ll bet Minty to win and play her over the fast-working first-time starters #1 American Women (8-1) and #3 Mrs Worldwide (12-1) in a modest exacta.


  • #8 Minty (4-1)
  • #1 American Women (8-1)
  • #3 Mrs Worldwide (12-1)


  • $22 to win on #8 Minty
  • $4 Exacta: 8 with 1,3 ($8)
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs: Race 2: $4,229 Super High 5 carryover (1:14 p.m. ET)

Friday’s second race at Churchill Downs, a maiden special weight for fillies and mares racing 1 1/8 miles on turf, features a $4,229 carryover in the $1 Super High 5.

It’s a tough race to handicap because there aren’t any standouts in the overflow field, and morning line favorite #11 Moonlight Gambler (9-5) is the first of six also-eligible entrants. We’ll have to wait until scratches are posted before formulating any tickets.

That said, there are a few short-priced fillies in the main body of the field who seem likely to factor, and they’re worth building tickets around. #6 Tonalite (3-1) has finished fourth in each of her first four starts against maiden special weight competition on turf, including when beaten 1 1/4 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile contest at Churchill Downs last month. Her Brisnet Speed ratings are strong, and another top-four finish appears likely.

#4 Carnane (5-1) beat Tonalite by a head when finishing third in the above-mentioned Churchill maiden heat, and she’s a logical contender again on Friday. So too is #7 Novara (2-1), a Godolphin homebred who has cracked the trifecta in her first two turf starts against maiden special weight competition at Tampa Bay Downs.

By mixing and matching Tonalite, Carnane, and Novara with a few others, we should have every chance to assemble a winning Super High 5 ticket.

Belterra Park: Race 8: $10,769 Super High 5 mandatory payout (4:05 p.m. ET)

The 20-cent Super High 5 at Belterra Park is normally a jackpot-style wager, but on Friday the $10,769 carryover will be paid out in mandatory fashion.

The prize pool is up for grabs in Race 8, the Best of Ohio Green Carpet S. for Ohio-bred three-year-olds racing 1 1/16 miles on turf. It’s a tough race to handicap because 10 of the 11 entrants have yet to race on turf, and the one who has is 0-for-2 on grass.

So in the absence of solid turf form to analyze, we’ll side with the best horse overall, that being #6 Who Dey (7-5). The son of Liam’s Map is 3-for-3 against Ohio-bred rivals, even winning a couple of dirt stakes last year, and he’s also competed well against non-state-restricted competition. Last time out, he finished fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by next-out Preakness (G1) winner Seize the Grey.

Liam’s Map sires a respectable 13% winners on turf, with his best grass runner being two-time Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) hero Colonel Liam, so there’s a chance Who Dey will shine while switching to grass. But even if he merely tolerates the surface, his talent and strong Brisnet Speed ratings should be sufficient to win the day. We recommend keying Who Dey on top in the Super High 5.

Good luck!