Friday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Sharp 5-1 shot at Turfway

March 1st, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Friday, March 1 at Aqueduct and Turfway Park, along with analysis of the $4,239 Pick 6 carryover at Fair Grounds.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Winter Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races every Thursday-Sunday.
  • Turfway Park 15% Win Bonus: Receive a 15% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning single-horse win bets at Turfway Park every Friday in March.
  • Woodbine Mohawk 15% Trifecta Boost: Receive a 15% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning trifecta wagers at Woodbine Mohawk during the month of March.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Aqueduct: Race 4: $50,000 Starter Allowance (six furlongs, 2:55 p.m. ET)

#6 Borletti (4-1) ran strongly in a six-furlong $25,000 claimer on Jan. 18 at Aqueduct. On a day when inside runners held an advantage, Borletti gamely chased down a rail-running pacesetter to prevail by three-quarters of a length, earning a career-best 94 Brisnet Speed rating.

Borletti was claimed out of that contest by trainer Rick Dutrow, a lofty 27% winner with new claiming acquisitions. Borletti figures to run as well or better on Friday than on Jan. 18, so a win bet is in order.


  • #6 Borletti (4-1)
  • #1A Uncle George (5-2)
  • #5 Natural Harbor (2-1)


  • $25 to win on #6 Borletti

Turfway Park: Race 1: $30,000 Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 5:55 p.m. ET)

#10 Pinotslilgirl (2-1) has earned five straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 70-77 range while competing in a trio of stakes and a pair of $50,000 allowance optional claimers. Her last three starts have yielded top-five finishes at Turfway Park, demonstrating that she can perform well on Tapeta.

Hot trainer John Ennis wins at an eye-catching 34% rate with horses descending into the claiming ranks for the first time, so dropping in class for a $30,000 claimer should make Pinotslilgirl tough to beat under jockey Adam Beschizza, a 37% winner teaming up with Ennis over the last two months. Pinotslilgirl’s Speed ratings look strong against Friday’s field, so let’s place a large win bet and leave it at that.


  • #10 Pinotslilgirl (2-1)
  • #11 Love to Eat (7-2)
  • #7 Designated (6-1)


  • $30 to win on #10 Pinotslilgirl

Turfway Park: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs on Tapeta, 7:55 p.m. ET)

After finishing second and sixth in his first two starts on dirt, #3 Sharp Shot (5-1) produced a career-best 81 Brisnet Speed rating in a six-furlong maiden special weight over the Turfway Tapeta. After tracking hot fractions in a large field, Sharp Shot stayed on to finish third behind Epic Ride, who came back to dominate Turfway’s Leonatus S. by four lengths.

Sharp Shot figures to find the competition easier on Friday, so a large win bet is the way we’ll play.


  • #3 Sharp Shot (5-1)
  • #10 Trouble’s Roaring (3-1)
  • #6 Harold’s Joy (6-1)


  • $40 to win on #3 Sharp Shot

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds: Race 3: $4,239 Pick 6 carryover (2:45 p.m. ET)

There’s rain in the forecast for Friday at Fair Grounds, which could complicate the process of handicapping the $4,239 Pick 6 carryover.

The sequence for the $1 wager contains three turf races. There’s a chance all three will be transferred to the main track, which would likely prompt a bevy of scratches while simultaneously allowing main-track-only entrants to draw in.

The first grass event is Race 3, a $50,000 starter optional claimer for three-year-olds racing about one mile. Among the seven horses in the main body of the field, #5 Masterofhiscraft (3-1) looks like the horse to beat if the race stays on turf. He finished second over this course, distance, and class level on Dec. 15 and has since been gelded, opening the door for improvement.

However, if the race switches to dirt, the main-track-only entrants #8 Wardy (5-2) and #9 J T’s Imagination (7-2) will be tough. They were separated by less than one length when first and second in a $50,000-$40,000 claimer racing one mile over the Fair Grounds main track last month, earning strong 89 Brisnet Speed ratings. Similar performances on Friday could land one or the other in the winner’s circle.

Race 5, a $12,500 allowance optional claimer for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares racing about one mile on turf, looks considerably tougher. There are many viable contenders among the turf horses, though one of the best—#14 Dixie Farmer (4-1), a winner over this course, distance, and class level on Feb. 8—is third on the also-eligible list and will need some luck to draw in.

As for the main-track-only contenders, #15 Entitlement (8-1) and #16 Lightening Mo (8-1) are both worthy of respect. Entitlement rallied to finish second in a one-mile and 70-yard allowance at Fair Grounds two months ago, while Lightening Mo exits victory in a one-mile maiden special weight over this track. But in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, horses in the main body of the field like #2 Czar’s Ballerina (5-1), #6 Starsnmotion (5-1), and #10 Ironit (5-1) are all fast enough to factor on dirt.

The final turf race in the sequence is Race 7, a maiden special weight for three-year-olds and older horses racing about 1 1/16 miles. Logical contenders include #6 Wissam Sharaf (6-1), runner-up in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on grass at Monmouth Park last summer; #7 Big to Do (9-2), a first-time starter from the hot barn of Brad Cox; and #10 Rockstar Red (9-2), who is adding blinkers off a runner-up finish over this course, distance, and class level.

The lone main-track-only entrant is #11 Sagittarius (6-1), which is a bit ironic since all three of his starts have come on turf. He hasn’t shown a lot in recent starts at Fair Grounds, but as a son of Empire Maker out of a mare by Malibu Moon, he has the pedigree to handle dirt and may improve if he gets a chance to switch surfaces on Friday.

Good luck!