Monday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Clean Machine drops in class

July 8th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Monday, July 8, at Finger Lakes and Thistledown, along with a horse to single in the $1,293 Pick 5 carryover at Presque Isle Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Presque Isle Downs 10x Points: Receive 10x reward points on all wagers at Presque Isle Downs (excluding show bets) on Mondays in June and July.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Finger Lakes: Race 1: $8,000 Starter Optional Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs on dirt, 1:15 p.m. ET)

#5 Limit Up (8-5) is bound to be favored after trouncing a race over this track, distance, and class level on June 11 by three lengths, earning a sharp 86 Brisnet Speed rating. But #6 Fiery Heart (5-2) may have upset potential.

Fiery Heart went 7-for-7 in Finger Lakes sprints last year. On five occasions, he won at the $8,000 starter optional claiming level. He was beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Limit Up on June 11, but that effort marked Fiery Heart’s first start of the year, and he was compromised by breaking a couple of lengths slowly.

If Fiery Heart gets off to a fast start in his second run of the year, he can turn the tables on Limit Up. Let’s play him over Limit Up in a cold exacta.


  • #6 Fiery Heart (5-2)
  • #5 Limit Up (8-5)
  • #4 Forward Motion (7-2)


  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 5

Finger Lakes: Race 2: $5,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs on dirt, 1:44 p.m. ET)

#5 Honor Among Men (1-1) looks too tough for this field. His last five Brisnet Speed ratings are 85, 88, 86, 82, and 78, whereas his rivals haven’t posted a number higher than 79 in their last five starts apiece.

Honor Among Men’s 78 came in his first run of the season, and there’s a strong chance he’ll improve second-time out for trainer Chris Englehart, who wins at a 22% rate with horses running back for the second time following a layoff. It’s also worth noting Honor Among Men is the only clear frontrunner in Monday’s field, and pacesetters have won 48% of 5 1/2-furlong sprints at Finger Lakes this meet.

Let’s try to double our money with a large win bet on Honor Among Men.


  • #5 Honor Among Men (1-1)
  • #1 Rally Squirrel (6-1)
  • #6 Tuckabuckaway (3-1)


  • $35 to win on #5 Honor Among Men

Thistledown: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs on dirt, 1:50 p.m. ET)

#6 Clean Machine (3-1) showed early speed when debuting with a fourth-place finish in an open maiden special weight sprinting five furlongs at Thistledown. For his second start, he’ll drop into the Ohio-bred ranks for hot trainer Timothy Hamm, a 27% winner at Thistledown this meet.

The class drop may prove sufficient to land Clean Machine a maiden victory, so we’ll place a win bet on the young gelding and hope his 3-1 morning line odds hold up.


  • #6 Clean Machine (3-1)
  • #4 Ed’s Reward (6-1)
  • #3 Boots Malone (5-2)


  • $25 to win on #6 Clean Machine

Carryover Watch

Presque Isle Downs: Race 1: $1,293 Pick 5 carryover (3:00 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Presque Isle Downs kicks off with a non-jackpot $1,293 carryover up for grabs in the 50-cent Early Pick 5.

Looking for a single to build tickets around? We recommend #3 Awatea (8-5), the morning line favorite in Race 5, the final leg of the sequence.

Race 5 is an allowance for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on Tapeta. There are some talented and promising horses in the field, but none have run faster on the Brisnet Speed rating scale than Awatea.

Awatea started her career with a fourth-place finish on dirt at Ellis Park, earning an uninspiring 72 Brisnet Speed rating. She didn’t fare any better when returning from a long layoff for her second start sprinting six furlongs on turf at Aqueduct, finishing seventh with another 72 Brisnet Speed rating.

But Awatea improved dramatically when switching to Tapeta for a six-furlong maiden special weight at Presque Isle Downs last month. Showing newfound early speed, she carved out sharp fractions on the front end before powering clear to win by five lengths with an 84 Brisnet Speed rating. Her form was subsequently flattered when third-place finisher Oh My Mia returned to win her next start against $40,000 maiden claiming competition at Churchill Downs by four lengths.

The only other runner in Monday’s field who has posted a Brisnet Speed rating as high as 84 is #2 Immortallove, who has done so twice. But on both of those occasions, Immortallove was racing on dirt; her highest number in four starts over the Presque Isle Tapeta is 77, so Awatea is the filly to beat from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective.

There are other positives in Awatea’s favor as well. She’s trained by Riley Mott, who has gone 3-for-5 (60%) at Presque Isle this meet. Mott strikes at a 33% rate with last-out maiden winners, so Awatea figures to fire a strong shot while facing proven winners for the first time. And for good measure, she’ll be ridden by red-hot jockey Antonio Gallardo, a 32% winner at Presque Isle this meet.

With so much to like about Awatea, she’s a logical single to wrap up the Pick 5. Good luck!