Thursday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Fourth of July win bets

July 4th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Thursday, July 4 at Aqueduct and Ellis Park, along with horses to play in the $1,641 Pick 5 carryover at Presque Isle Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Harness 15% Trifecta Boost: Receive a 15% boost (up to $25 per day) on winning trifecta wagers in any eligible race at all harness tracks every Thursday through Saturday in July and August.
  • Hoosier Park $1,000 Late Pick 4 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 4 at Hoosier Park on any Thursday in July to win your share of a $1,000 daily prize pool.
  • Los Alamitos $4,000 Leaderboard: Place $10+ win wagers at Los Alamitos Thursday through Sunday to compete for your share of a $4,000 prize pool.
  • Power Hour 15% Profit Boost: Receive a 15% boost (up to $25 per day) on all winning win, exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagers in any eligible race between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Aqueduct: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on dirt, 1:05 p.m. ET)

#2 Home Wrecker (8-1) has put together a lengthy work tab in preparation for her debut, including a bullet half-mile in :48 over the Belmont Park training track. The $375,000 yearling acquisition is a daughter of four-time Grade 1 winner Quality Road (who sires 14% winners from first-time starters) out of Shoppers Return (the dam of multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Imprimis), so Home Wrecker appears to have lots of potential.

There are plenty of viable contenders in this field of juveniles, but Home Wrecker’s 8-1 morning line odds are enticing, so let’s try a win bet on this possibly overpriced filly.


  • #2 Home Wrecker (8-1)
  • #6 Yellow (2-1)
  • #1 As Catch Can (3-1)


  • $20 to win on #2 Home Wrecker

Ellis Park: Race 5: Dade Park Dash S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 2:53 p.m. ET)

#2 Vote No (12-1) showed talent on turf last year, winning the 6 1/2-furlong Juvenile Sprint S. at Kentucky Downs before finishing third by one length in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbon (G2). He also showed ability on Tapeta, most notably dominating the 6 1/2-furlong Turfway Prevue S. by 5 1/4 lengths.

Vote Note’s last three runs, all on Tapeta, have been disappointing. But perhaps returning to grass for his second start off a three-month layoff can trigger a rebound. He’s adding blinkers, so that could help too. At 12-1, he’s worthy of a small win bet.


  • #2 Vote No (12-1)
  • #8 Barksdale (7-2)
  • #1 Bear River (3-1)


  • $15 to win on #2 Vote No

Ellis Park: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on dirt, 3:22 p.m. ET)

#7 Dawn After Dawn (10-1) has put together a sharp work tab for trainer Brendan Walsh, who went 2-for-12 (17%) debuting juveniles at Ellis Park last year. Most notably, Dawn After Dawn sped half a mile from the Churchill Downs starting gate in :48, one of three sub-:49 half-mile workouts she posted during June.

Dawn After Dawn also has an appealing pedigree in her corner. She’s a daughter of Complexity, winner of the Champagne (G1) as a juvenile and the sire of 38% winners from first-time starters. For all these reasons, Dawn After Dawn is worth betting to win at her enticing 10-1 morning line odds.


  • #7 Dawn After Dawn (10-1)
  • #10 Summer Travels (9-2)
  • #2 Rita’s Legacy (12-1)


  • $20 to win on #7 Dawn After Dawn

Carryover Watch

Presque Isle Downs: Race 4: $1,641 Pick 5 carryover (4:21 p.m. ET)

Three favorites and a second choice prevailed during Wednesday’s 50-cent Late Pick 5 at Presque Isle Downs. But there was also a 35-1 winner in the mix, and that lone upset was sufficient to trigger a $1,641 Pick 5 carryover into Thursday’s Independence Day card.

Will we see a longshot winner of that magnitude during Thursday’s sequence? It’s hard to say, though there’s a decent chance we’ll catch a non-favored winner in Race 8, the final leg of the Late Pick 5. It’s a $7,500 maiden claimer taking place over six furlongs on Tapeta, and the 12-horse field hasn’t come up especially deep on paper.

The morning line favorite is #8 Brian (5-2), a three-year-old gelding dropping in class out of maiden special weights at Ellis Park and Horseshoe Indianapolis. The son of Goldencents is trained by Riley Mott, who has gone 3-for-5 (60%) at Presque Isle this meet, and red-hot jockey Antonio Gallardo is named to ride. Certainly Brian is worth including in the Pick 5—the class drop alone may send him to the winner’s circle.

But is Brian unbeatable? Not necessarily. He’s yet to race over a synthetic track, so switching surfaces is a question mark. That’s why #11 Elm Street (5-1) has an upset chance at twice the morning line price.

Elm Street has run fairly well against large fields in two recent $12,500 maiden claimers running long on turf at Horseshoe Indianapolis, finishing third and sixth. But his form on Tapeta is stronger. In three starts at Turfway Park between December and February, Elm Street finished third in three straight $15,000 maiden claimers, including two sprints.

Returning to Tapeta while dropping into a $7,500 maiden claimer should make Elm Street formidable for trainer Ethan West, who wins at a lofty 24% rate with horses making the route-to-sprint transition. It helps that Elm Street will be guided by Pablo Morales, the runaway leading jockey at Presque Isle in 2023. We recommend using Elm Street equally alongside Brian in the Pick 5.

Good luck!