Thursday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Pretty Liam can win again

February 8th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Thursday, Feb. 8 at Gulfstream Park and Turfway Park, along with a horse to single in the $1,899 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.
  • Fraser Downs 25% Win Bonus: Receive a 25% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning single-horse win wagers at Fraser Downs every Thursday and Friday from Feb. 8 through Feb. 29.

Best Bets and Quick Picks

Gulfstream Park: Race 8: $75,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (five furlongs on Tapeta, 3:39 p.m. ET)

#6 Pretty Liam (9-5) impressed when debuting in a maiden special weight over this track and distance, settling two lengths behind hot fractions of :21.77 and :44.04 before finishing strongly (final furlong in approximately :11.00) to dominate by 3 3/4 lengths. Her final time of :55.37 missed the track record by only 0.32.

Sticking to the same configuration for a $75,000 allowance optional claimer should make Pretty Liam formidable under five-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz. Her odds shouldn’t dip too low since she’s facing a full field, so let’s bet Pretty Liam to win and leave it at that.


  • #6 Pretty Liam (9-5)
  • #3 Iced Coffee (8-1)
  • #4 Twirling Queen (20-1)


  • $30 to win on #6 Pretty Liam

Turfway Park: Race 3: $50,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 6:55 p.m. ET)

#4 Vino Rosato (9-2) has finished fifth and seventh while facing large fields in her last two starts against maiden special weight competition racing one mile at Turfway. Dropping into a $50,000 maiden claimer and adding Lasix for her three-year-old debut should make this daughter of Vino Rosso competitive for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Walter Rodriguez and Christopher Davis.

At 9-2, a win bet is in order. We’ll also key Vino Rosato over #6 Savannamarie (5-2) in a small exacta.


  • #4 Vino Rosato (9-2)
  • #6 Savannamarie (5-2)
  • #3 Sensible Choice (6-1)


  • $20 to win on #4 Vino Rosato
  • $5 Exacta: 4 with 6
    Total: $25

Turfway Park: Race 7: $40,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 8:55 p.m. ET)

#6 Peacock Lass (9-5) rallied strongly to win a $25,000 allowance optional claimer sprinting six furlongs at Turfway last time out, scoring by 1 1/4 lengths with a career-best 92 Brisnet Speed rating. The form of her victory was flattered when runner-up Pumpkin Scone returned to win a Turfway allowance in her next start.

None of the rivals Peacock Lass is facing on Thursday have earned a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 89, so we view Peacock Lass as the filly to beat while making her second Turfway start for the red-hot jockey/trainer combo of Alex Achard and Rodolphe Brisset. They’ve gone 4-for-12 (33%) teaming up together over the last two months.

Let’s key Peacock Lass on top of a cold exacta using #5 Up and Down (8-5) for second place. The latter filly exits a runner-up finish by a neck over this track, distance, and class level on Jan. 11.


  • #6 Peacock Lass (9-5)
  • #5 Up and Down (8-5)
  • #1 Laura’s Charm (4-1)


  • $20 Exacta: 6 with 5

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds: Race 5: $1,899 Pick 6 carryover (3:45 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Fair Grounds gets underway on Thursday with a $1,899 carryover up for grabs in the $1 Pick 6. It’s not the biggest carryover you’ll ever see, but it’s a non-jackpot prize pool, so every bettor who assembles a winning ticket will earn a share.

Technically speaking, the six-race sequence contains 67 horses (averaging nearly 11.2 per race) and a staggering 1,419,264 possible outcomes before scratches. But take note, 13 of those horses are also-eligible entrants, so in all likelihood the sequence will feature no more than 54 horses (averaging nine per race) and 498,960 possible outcomes once scratches are announced. That sounds a lot more manageable.

We can further simplify the Pick 6 by singling #5 Carpis (7-2), the slim morning line favorite in Race 8, a six-furlong dirt allowance for Louisiana-breds who have never won two races. Even though Carpis is a three-year-old facing older rivals in his sophomore debut, he looks ready to deliver victory.

Carpis debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight for Louisiana-breds on Dec. 9 at Fair Grounds and led by daylight at every call to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths. The 91 Brisnet Speed rating he received is the highest number belonging to any horse in Thursday’s field, and the form was flattered when third-place finisher Court Jester returned to win his next start against similar competition.

Carpis followed up with a fine try in the six-furlong Louisiana Futurity on Dec. 31 at Fair Grounds. After dueling with a couple of rivals for early supremacy, Carpis put away his pace challengers, only to get caught in the final furlong by a midpack closer. The margin of defeat was only half a length, and Carpis earned a respectable 78 Brisnet Speed rating.

There are a couple of other speed horses in Thursday’s field, but Carpis looks like the “speed of the speed” and should prove difficult to catch for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Erica Murray and Sam David Jr., who have gone 2-for-9 (22%) teaming up together over the last two months. The fact pacesetters have won 40% of six-furlong dirt sprints at Fair Grounds this meet cements Carpis as a viable Pick 6 single.

Good luck!