Monday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Turf Paradise opening day

January 29th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Monday, Jan. 29 at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise, including a 15-1 longshot.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • 10x Points on Harness Racing: Earn 10x reward points on all harness racing wagers (excluding show bets) every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the month of January.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Mahoning Valley: Race 7: Allowance (one mile, 3:33 p.m. ET)

There’s quite a bit of speed in this allowance for Ohio-bred fillies and mares, so let’s take a chance backing longshot #4 State of Grace (15-1), a pure deep closer who figures to receive a decent pace to chase. In her most recent dirt start, State of Grace rallied to finish second in a $10,000 claimer for Ohio-breds at Mahoning Valley.

Let’s bet State of Grace to win, then box her in the exacta with #3 Better Half (9-5), who looks like the best of the speed horses. For the exacta, we’ll favor the lower-paying combination with Better Half on top.


  • #4 State of Grace (15-1)
  • #3 Better Half (9-5)
  • #1 Here Comes Dolly (3-1)


  • $12 to win on #4 State of Grace
  • $9 Exacta: 3 with 4
  • $4 Exacta: 4 with 3
    Total: $25

Turf Paradise: Race 3: $8,500 Claiming (six furlongs, 3:36 p.m. ET)

#3 Big Beauty (2-1) misfired in a recent five-furlong allowance over the bullring oval at Delta Downs, finishing sixth. But she was beaten by only four lengths, and the top two finishers both returned to win their next starts.

Big Beauty had previously finished second in a $32,000 claimer racing one mile at Santa Anita. Returning to a full-sized track and dropping into an $8,500 claimer should make Big Beauty tough to beat for Justin Evans, the runaway leading trainer during the 2022-23 Turf Paradise meet.

#4 Ila Veiw Too (5-2), who has hit the board in four straight $16,000 claimers on the Southern California circuit, can complete the exacta.


  • #3 Big Beauty (2-1)
  • #4 Ila Veiw Too (5-2)
  • #5 M G Big Maria (5-1)


  • $15 Exacta: 3 with 4

Mahoning Valley: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:02 p.m. ET)

#4 Amy’s Star (5-2) dueled for the lead through sharp fractions when debuting over this track, distance, and class level on Jan. 11. She won the duel (her primary pace rival finished last), but settled for second place by four lengths against a rival who tracked the early pace.

Amy’s Star ran strongly in defeat, pulling 11 lengths clear of the third-place finisher. A similar performance on Monday should be sufficient to send Amy’s Star to the winner’s circle, so we’ll bet her to win and call it a day.


  • #4 Amy’s Star (5-2)
  • #2 Wings of Heaven (6-1)
  • #10 It’s E Z (7-2)


  • $30 to win on #4 Amy’s Star

Good luck!