Monday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Opening day at Thistledown

April 22nd, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Monday, April 22 at Thistledown, Will Rogers Downs, and Turf Paradise, including a 15-1 longshot.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Thistledown: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 3:20 p.m. ET)

Trainer Michael Rone was on fire during opening week of the 2023 Thistledown meet, going 5-for-11 (45%). Perhaps Rone can start the 2024 meet on a winning note with #2 Ollie’s Folly (15-1). The three-year-old gelding has run a couple of decent races sprinting six furlongs over this class level at Mahoning Valley and regularly shows early speed, a benefit since pacesetters won 40% of 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprints at Thistledown last meet.

Ollie’s Folly finished fourth in his most recent race, but both the winner and the third-place finisher returned to win their next starts, so it was a quality field. At 15-1, Ollie’s Folly is worth betting to win.


  • #2 Ollie’s Folly (15-1)
  • #5 Brighter Day (7-2)
  • #4 Soulless (6-1)


  • $20 to win on #2 Ollie’s Folly

Will Rogers Downs: Race 4: $7,500 Claiming (one mile, 3:36 p.m. ET)

#7 Commander Rex (6-5) was tons the best in a $7,500 claimer for non-winners of two races on March 25 at Will Rogers Downs, leading all the way to win by 7 1/2 lengths with a 75 Brisnet Speed rating. He then stepped up sharply in class and finished third (beaten only four lengths) in a $25,000 claimer for non-winners of three races.

Now Commander Rex is taking on a $7,500 claimer for non-winners of three races, which seems like a better fit. Jockey Elvin Gonzalez and trainer Federico Villafranco have gone 10-for-22 (45%) teaming up together over the last two months, so let’s bet Commander Rex over #4 Emergency Response (6-1) in a cold exacta. Emergency Response has finished second in each of his last two starts over this track and class level.


  • #7 Commander Rex (6-5)
  • #4 Emergency Response (6-1)
  • #3 Assumption (8-5)


  • $15 Exacta: 7 with 4

Turf Paradise: Race 3: $30,000 Maiden Optional Claiming (six furlongs, 5:21 p.m. ET)

Morning line favorite #3 My Bella for Lisa (5-2) doesn’t appear unbeatable after finishing third by wide margins in her first two starts over this track and class level. Therefore, we’ll take a shot backing the first-time starter #1 Diamond Dee (4-1).

Diamond Dee has put together a decent work tab capped off by five furlongs in 1:00 1/5. Turf Paradise’s leading jockey Karlo Lopez (a 24% winner this meet) is named to ride by trainer Valorie Lund (a 15% winner with first-time starters), so there are reasons to believe Diamond Dee can spring a mild surprise on debut.

A win bet is in order.


  • #1 Diamond Dee (4-1)
  • #3 My Bella for Lisa (5-2)
  • #2 Big Tippa 9-2)


  • $20 to win on #1 Diamond Dee

Good luck!