Thursday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: Thurby all-stakes Pick 3

May 2nd, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for the Thursday, May 2 “Thurby” card at Churchill Downs, including an all-stakes Pick 3.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Kentucky Derby Week $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any eligible race at Churchill Downs from April 27 through May 4.
  • 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

Churchill Downs: Race 9: Kentucky Juvenile S. (five furlongs, 5:13 p.m. ET)

#7 Shoot It True (7-5) is the heavy morning line favorite after smashing her debut sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs against maiden special weight competition at Keeneland by 7 1/2 lengths, earning a 91 Brisnet Speed rating.

But she’s not necessarily a lock to win. #9 Mensa (5-1) posted an even stronger 97 Brisnet Speed rating when wiring a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park by three lengths.

Let’s box Shoot It True and Mensa in the exacta, then use them both to start a Pick 3.


  • #9 Mensa (5-1)
  • #7 Shoot It True (7-5)
  • #3 The Queens M G (6-1)


  • $15 Exacta: box 7,9 ($30)
  • $10 Pick 3: 7,9 with 5 with 9 ($20)
    Total: $50

Churchill Downs: Race 10: St. Matthews S. (six furlongs, 5:47 p.m. ET)

With 11 victories at Churchill Downs under his belt, #5 Bango (1-1) is tied with Ready’s Rocket as the winningest horse in recorded Churchill Downs history. If he can win the St. Matthews S. for the second straight year, he’ll own the record outright.

Bango dominated the 2023 St. Matthews by five lengths, one of three stakes wins he secured last season. The speedy and consistent seven-year-old has posted sharp workouts in preparation for his 2024 debut and has every chance to score the repeat win, so we’ll single him in our Pick 3 and also in a double wager.


  • #5 Bango (1-1)
  • #1 Necker Island (12-1)
  • #6 Bourbon Bash (7-2)


  • $25 Double: 5 with 9

Churchill Downs: Race 11: Opening Verse S. (one mile on turf, 6:18 p.m. ET)

#9 Carl Spackler (2-1) showed significant talent as a three-year-old last year. The Chad Brown trainee wrapped up his season with back-to-back graded wins at Saratoga, winning the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) by 2 1/4 lengths and the Saranac (G3) by 3 1/2 lengths.

Carl Spackler has posted fast workouts in advance of the Opening Verse, including a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 over the Payson Park turf course, so the layoff shouldn’t be a concern. We’ll single Carl Spackler to conclude our double and Pick 3 wagers, then bet him to win and play him over two-time stakes winner #10 Talk of the Nation (3-1) in a cold exacta.


  • #9 Carl Spackler (2-1)
  • #10 Talk of the Nation (3-1)
  • #4 Smokin’ T (6-1)


  • $30 to win on #9 Carl Spackler
  • $10 Exacta: 9 with 10
    Total: $40

Good luck!