Thursday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: An Awesome 5-1 shot

February 1st, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Thursday, Feb. 1 at Turfway Park and Turf Paradise, along with horses to play in the $3,125 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.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Turfway Park: Race 1: $7,500 Maiden Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 5:55 p.m. ET)

#8 White Dove (5-1) wasn’t disgraced in a $30,000 maiden claimer sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Turfway last month, rallying from ninth place to finish sixth behind a runaway winner. She has the pedigree to stretch out over one mile and should appreciate dropping in class for a $7,500 maiden claimer, especially since one-mile contests at Turfway have been considerably kinder to closers this season than 6 1/2-furlong sprints.

At 5-1, a win bet on White Dove is in order.


  • #8 White Dove (5-1)
  • #4 Canopy (5-2)
  • #7 Mischief Jac (7-2)


  • $25 to win on #8 White Dove

Turf Paradise: Race 9: Jeff and Jack Coady Sr. S. (six furlongs, 7:05 p.m. ET)

#5 Beyond Awesome (6-1) faltered when returning from a layoff in the five-furlong Orleans S. at Delta Downs last month, finishing eighth by a wide margin. But that contest took place over Delta’s bullring oval, and returning to the full-sized track at Turf Paradise can help Beyond Awesome rebound.

After all, Beyond Awesome boasts an excellent 11-7-1-2 record at Turf Paradise. She’d won six of her seven starts leading up to the Orleans, including multiple stakes, and can pick up another if she bounces back to peak form for red-hot trainer Justin Evans, who has gone 5-for-6 (83%) to start this Turf Paradise meet.

A win bet is the way we’ll play.


  • #5 Beyond Awesome (6-1)
  • #1 Asena (8-1)
  • #8 Pepper Mill (4-1)


  • $25 to win on #5 Beyond Awesome

Turfway Park: Race 6: $30,000 Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 8:25 p.m. ET)

#3 Under the Bed (3-1) was easily best in a $15,000 claimer racing one mile at Turfway last month, leading all the way to dominate by 3 1/2 lengths with a career-best 82 Brisnet Speed rating.

Under the Bed regularly sets the pace and has every chance to secure an uncontested lead against this largely paceless field, opening the door for another victory even while stepping up in class. It helps that high-percentage trainer William Cowans has gone 3-for-6 (50%) in recent years with horses jumping multiple levels up the class ladder.

Throw in jockey Luan Machado (a 47% winner teaming up with Cowans over the last two months), and Under the Bed is worthy of a win bet.


  • #3 Under the Bed (3-1)
  • #8 Trouble Making (6-1)
  • #7 Bulsara (8-1)


  • $25 to win on #3 Under the Bed

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds: Race 5: $3,125 Pick 6 carryover (3:45 p.m. ET)

Here’s an oddity—for the second week in a row, the Thursday card at Fair Grounds features a non-jackpot Pick 6 carryover worth exactly $3,125.

The $1 wager spans Race 5 through Race 10, a sequence containing 54 horses (averaging nine per race) and 471,744 possible outcomes before scratches. But three of the races are slated for turf, and Fair Grounds was off the turf last week due to rain. Hopefully the course has dried out enough to allow turf racing to resume, but we have to at least ponder the possibility that the grass races will be switched to dirt.

Either way, #3 Sri Lanka (3-1) is a logical contender in Race 7, a maiden special weight for fillies and mares racing about 1 1/16 miles on turf. Sri Lanka has finished second in a trio of maiden special weights on turf at Gulfstream Park, Churchill Downs, and Fair Grounds, but she’s also run second in two off-the-turf maiden special weights at Fair Grounds and Ellis Park. Her 7-0-5-0 record is a little concerning (she has a tendency to settle for minor awards), but Sri Lanka is quite versatile in terms of running style and is a must-use in the Pick 6.

We’ll actually be tempted to single Sri Lanka if Race 7 is transferred to dirt. If it stays on turf though, we’ll throw in #7 Playmate (4-1), exiting a fourth-place finish in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight on grass at Woodbine.

In contrast, Race 9—a $100,000 allowance optional claimer for fillies and mares racing about 1 1/16 miles on turf—offers a potential single if it stays on turf. #4 Pink Polkadots (3-1) debuted with a terrific performance in a maiden special weight over this course and distance on Dec. 31, leading by daylight at every call to dominate by 3 1/2 lengths. She set a fast pace and earned an 88 Brisnet Speed rating, so a repeat of that effort will make Pink Polkadots tough to catch on Thursday.

If Race 9 switches to dirt, though, there’s no telling who might win. We’d have to wait and see which horses scratch before formulating an opinion.

At least Race 8 is pretty straightforward. It’s a maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs on dirt. #7 Tipsy Tammy (8-5), runner-up in her debut over this track, distance, and class level on Jan. 1, is a deserving favorite with a sharp Brisnet Speed rating under her belt.

But we also recommend using #6 Upon a Star (7-2), a first-time starter racing for the red-hot jockey/trainer duo of Florent Geroux and Brad Cox. Since 2022, Cox has compiled a terrific 7-for-17 (41%) record debuting three-year-olds in dirt sprints at Fair Grounds.

Good luck!