Friday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Newgate’s half-sister looks live

May 31st, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Friday, May 31 at Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, and Penn National, including tickets for Churchill’s $3,811 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.
  • 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.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Churchill Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 12:45 p.m. ET)

#5 Adeera (4-1) has the pedigree to be a star. She’s a daughter of 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner and Horse of the Year Authentic out of Majestic Presence, the dam of Santa Anita H. (G1) hero Newgate and Beaumont (G3) winner Denim and Pearls.

Both Newgate and Denim and Pearls placed in stakes at age two, so there’s potential for Adeera to shine from an early age. She’s put together a sharp work tab for hot trainer Steve Asmussen (a 20% winner at Churchill Downs this meet), so let’s try a win bet on this well-bred filly.


  • #5 Adeera (4-1)
  • #6 Salted (5-2)
  • #4 Midnight in Austin (9-2)


  • $25 to win on #5 Adeera

Santa Anita: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs on turf, 4:00 p.m. ET)

Trainer Steve Knapp has gone 2-for-4 (50%) debuting juveniles at Santa Anita this year. Perhaps he can keep his hot streak going with #7 She’s My Flame (3-1), who has put together a lengthy work tab capped off by a quartet of half-mile workouts.

She’s My Flame is a daughter of Flameaway, who won his debut in May of his two-year-old year before adding victories in the Skidmore S., Bourbon (G3), Kitten’s Joy S., and Sam F. Davis (G3) during the ensuing nine months. Flameaway is off to a promising start at stud and sires 20% winners from first-time turf starters, so there are plenty of reasons to believe She’s My Flame can win her debut on grass.

Throw in the fact she’ll be ridden by Tiago Pereira (a 45% winner teaming up with Knapps over the last two months), and She’s My Flame is worthy of a win bet.


  • #7 She’s My Flame (3-1)
  • #2 Lee’s Baby Girl (5-2)
  • #1 Running Rio (3-1)


  • $25 to win on #7 She’s My Flame

Penn National: Race 5: Penn Oaks (one mile on turf, 7:10 p.m. ET)

#10 Pounce (7-2) faltered in the Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland two months ago, fading from a pace-tracking position to finish 11th. But two starts back, the Mark Casse trainee rallied from last place to win the one-mile Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

That stakes win followed a gate-to-wire victory in a $75,000 allowance optional claimer racing 7 1/2 furlongs over the Gulfstream turf. If Pounce can recapture the form of those victories while dropping in class for the Penn Oaks, she’ll be a formidable win threat.


  • #10 Pounce (7-2)
  • #9 Pink Polkadots (8-1)
  • #3 Poolside With Slim (6-1)


  • $25 to win on #10 Pounce

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs: Race 1: $3,811 Super High 5 carryover (12:45 p.m. ET)

So… are you convinced by our conclusion that #5 Adeera (4-1) will win Friday’s first race at Churchill Downs? If so, you might want to go beyond our recommended win bet and play the Super High 5, since the $1 wager features a $3,811 carryover.

There are only eight horses entered in Race 1, which works out to a manageable 6,720 possible Super High 5 outcomes. We should be able to assemble competitive tickets without breaking the bank.

We’ll build our tickets around Adeera, the half-sister to Newgate and Denim and Pearls. For reasons outlined previously, the daughter of Authentic looks ready to fire a winning shot on debut. For Super High 5 purposes, we’ll use her in both first and second place, just in case she runs well but settles for runner-up honors.

Who else should we emphasize? Certainly #6 Salted (5-2), a $760,000 yearling acquisition who has put together a sharp work tab for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. Four furlongs in :47 3/5… three furlongs from the starting gate in :35 4/5… four furlongs in :47 2/5… all here at Churchill Downs. Under five-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., Salted is a strong contender to challenge for a top-two finish.

#4 Midnight in Austin (9-2), another Mark Casse trainee, can’t be counted out of the mix either. She’s bred to run long, but the daughter of Bernardini has posted a pair of bullet half-mile workouts and may be sharp enough to finish in the top five on debut.

#3 Toodle Loo (5-1), a Steve Asmussen trainee, hasn’t put together as flashy a work tab as stablemate Adeera, but half a mile from the Keeneland starting gate in :48 is an encouraging exercise. She’ll be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., a solid 18% winner teaming up with Asmussen over the last two months.

Whereas the first four runners we’ve mentioned are all first-time starters, #2 Citizen Judy (7-2) has a race under her belt, having finished second when debuting in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland. Trainer John Ennis wins at a respectable 15% rate with second-time starters, so another competitive showing may be in the offing.

Even #8 Combattante (12-1) could be in the hunt. The daughter of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light breezed a bullet three furlongs in :35 4/5 at Churchill Downs earlier this month. 

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

  • $1 Super High 5: 5,6 with 5,6 with 2,3,4,8 with 2,3,4,8 with 1,2,3,4,8 ($72)

Good luck!