Thursday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: First-timer price plays

May 9th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Thursday, May 9 at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Churchill Downs, including a trio of first-time starters at odds between 4-1 and 8-1.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Churchill Downs $2,500 Thursday Leaderboard: Place $10+ win wagers at Churchill Downs on Thursday to accumulate points and compete for your share of $2,500 in prizes.
  • 10x Points on Harness Racing: Receive 10x reward points on all harness racing wagers (excluding show bets) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 2:41 p.m. ET)

#5 Special Creed (5-1) has shown speed in the mornings for trainer Michelle Elliott, an 18% winner with first-time starters. On April 16, he clocked half a mile at Horseshoe Indianapolis in :47 3/5. He repeated that clocking from the Horseshoe Indianapolis starting gate on May 1.

Special Creed is bred for speed and looks ready to win on debut. At 5-1, he’s worth betting to win and keying over Keeneland raider #1 Baytown Boo Boo (7-5) in the exacta.


  • #5 Special Creed (5-1)
  • #1 Baytown Boo Boo (7-5)
  • #6 Slam Dunk Justice (6-1)


  • $25 to win on #5 Special Creed
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 1
    Total: $30

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on turf, 4:14 p.m. ET)

Trainer Paulo Lobo wins at a 22% rate with first-time starters, and since 2021 he’s gone 2-for-5 (40%) debuting horses in turf routes at Horseshoe Indianapolis. These lofty win percentages bode well for #1 Redemption Speight (8-1), an unraced Lobo trainee with a lengthy string of workouts under his belt.

As one of only two first-time starters in a large field, there’s a good chance Redemption Straight will get overlooked in the wagering. At his 8-1 morning line odds, he’s worthy of a win bet.


  • #1 Redemption Straight (8-1)
  • #8 My Boy Tony (9-2)
  • #2 American Memories (5-1)


  • $20 to win on #1 Redemption Straight

Churchill Downs: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs, 5:58 p.m. ET)

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen tends to do well debuting juveniles during the spring meet at Churchill Downs. Perhaps he can pick up a winner on Thursday with #1 Austin Cruise (4-1).

A son of multiple Grade 2-winning sprinter/miler Catalina Cruiser, Austin Cruise has turned in multiple bullet three-furlong workouts, as well as a swift half-mile from the Keeneland starting gate in :48 3/5. None of the experienced runners in Thursday’s field are obvious standouts, so at 4-1 Austin Cruise is shaping up as a solid win play.


  • #1 Austin Cruise (4-1)
  • #12 Sweet Fantasy (5-1)
  • #9 Mo Hair Sam (9-2)


  • $25 to win on #1 Austin Cruise

Good luck!