Monday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Parx’s mandatory-payout $176,026 Pick 5

April 29th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Monday, April 29 at Finger Lakes and Thistledown, along with horses to single in the mandatory-payout $176,026 Pick 5 carryover at Parx Racing.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Finger Lakes: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 1:15 p.m. ET)

Speed horses tend to dominate dirt sprints over distances of five furlongs or less, and since this 4 1/2-furlong dash at Finger Lakes isn’t packed with speed on paper, we’ll take a chance backing #4 Mischief Exposed (5-1).

A son of Maximus Mischief, whose progeny are winning at a strongly speed-oriented average distance of 6.1 furlongs, Mischief Exposed couldn’t get close to the early lead in a pair of five-furlong maiden special weights on Tapeta and turf at Gulfstream Park during the winter. But those were fast-paced contests, and the surfaces likely weren’t ideal for Mischief Exposed.

In contrast, Mischief Exposed has set the pace in both of his starts on dirt, which came in five-furlong and six-furlong maiden special weights at Finger Lakes last year. If he shakes loose on an easy lead while cutting back to 4 1/2 furlongs, Mischief Exposed can spring a surprise.

We’ll bet Mischief Exposed to win and single him to start a small double wager.


  • #4 Mischief Exposed (5-1)
  • #7 Profitability (5-2)
  • #6 Tyrannosaurus Rex (3-1)


  • $20 to win on #4 Mischief Exposed
  • $5 Double: 4 with 2
    Total: $25

Finger Lakes: Race 2: $5,000 Claiming (4 1/2 furlongs, 1:44 p.m. ET)

#2 Trivia (2-1) regularly shows speed and wrapped up 2023 by earning five straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 71-72 range. All five of those runs came sprinting 5 1/2 to six furlongs at Finger Lakes, and in her most notable performance, she employed pace-pressing tactics to win an $11,000 claimer by two lengths.

Trainer Debra Breed wins at a sharp 19% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, so Trivia has every chance to shine while tackling a $5,000 claimer in her 2024 debut. We’ll bet her to win and single her to conclude our double wager.


  • #2 Trivia (2-1)
  • #1 Mrs Bell (5-2)
  • #3 Remoane (5-1)


  • $20 to win on #2 Trivia

Thistledown: Race 7: $25,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs, 3:50 p.m. ET)

#3 Lionistic (9-5) is a force to reckon with when she makes the early lead. At Thistledown and Mahoning Valley last fall, she wired three straight sprints by daylight margins, including the six-furlong Cardinal S.

Those blowout victories yielded strong Brisnet Speed ratings of 97, 94, and 91. Lionistic shouldn’t have much difficulty securing the lead in her 2024 debut, so let’s confidently play her over #2 Datttsafancyfox (5-2) and #5 Market Success (7-2) in the exacta.


  • #3 Lionistic (9-5)
  • #2 Datttsafancyfox (5-2)
  • #5 Market Success (7-2)


  • $18 Exacta: 3 with 2
  • $12 Exacta: 3 with 5
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Parx Racing: Race 6: $176,026 Pick 5 mandatory payout (2:59 p.m. ET)

The $176,026 jackpot carryover in the 50-cent “Philly Big 5” Pick 5 at Parx Racing will be paid out in mandatory fashion on Monday. All bettors who select the highest number of winners (most likely five) will earn a share of the carryover, no unique winning ticket necessary.

Bettors looking for a single to build tickets around are advised to check out Race 9, a 5 1/2-furlong dirt allowance for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares. Morning line favorite #2 Gray Lightning (6-5) boasts a 2-for-3 lifetime record, and the three-year-old filly was utterly spectacular when kicking off 2024 in a March 18 non-state-restricted $75,000 allowance optional claimer sprinting six furlongs at Parx. She set fractions of :22.73 and :46.62 before powering away to win gearing down by 14 1/2 lengths.

Visually speaking, Gray Lightning’s performance was fantastic—she seized a clear lead immediately after the start and never gave her rivals a chance to catch up, widening her advantage of her own accord around the turn. Gray Lightning also ran strongly on the clock—her final time of 1:12.30 yielded a powerful 104 Brisnet Speed rating.

Gray Lightning prepped for her second start of 2024 by breezing a bullet five furlongs from the Parx starting gate in 1:01 1/5 last Tuesday. The daughter of Social Inclusion should be mighty tough to beat while dropping in to the Pennsylvania-bred ranks for red-hot trainer J. Tyler Servis, a 32% winner at Parx this year.

Another single possibility can be found in Race 8, a $16,000 starter optional claimer for three-year-olds and older horses sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt. #5 Chasing Stardom (5-2) enters off two strong showings at Parx. On Feb. 26, he wired a seven-furlong $25,000 maiden claimer by four lengths, earning an 85 Brisnet Speed rating. On April 2, he finished second by half a length in a six-furlong $16,000 starter optional claimer, earning an 86 Brisnet Speed rating.

Those Brisnet Speed ratings give Chasing Stardom an edge against Monday’s field, and the fact he’s the only obvious speed horse on paper cements the four-year-old gelding as the horse to beat.

Good luck!