Wednesday’s Best Bets and Quick Picks: $16,033 Super High 5

March 20th, 2024

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares best bets and quick picks for Wednesday, March 20 at Turfway Park and Charles Town, along with horses to play in non-jackpot carryovers at Turfway and Fair Grounds.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Winning Wednesdays: Receive a 25% bonus (up to $25 per day) on your winning single-horse win wagers at Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs every Wednesday in March.

Picks and Plays

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

#2 Mission Ready (3-1) faltered when joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby in Turfway’s John Battaglia Memorial S. earlier this month, finishing seventh. But two starts back he rallied nicely to win a $50,000 allowance optional claimer racing one mile at Turfway.

That victory yielded an 88 Brisnet Speed rating that tops Wednesday’s field. Dropping back down in class can return Mission Ready to the winner’s circle for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Gavin Ashton and Edward Fernandez, who have gone 2-for-5 (40%) teaming up together over the last two months.


  • #2 Mission Ready (3-1)
  • #8 Great Richie M (7-2)
  • #3 Mr. Faversham (8-1)


  • $25 to win on #2 Mission Ready

Turfway Park: Race 5: $5,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 7:55 p.m. ET)

Since 2019, trainer Wesley Ward has compiled an excellent 4-for-8 (50%) record debuting horses aged four or older at Turfway Park. Throw in the fact Ward wins at a 36% rate with horses debuting in maiden claimers, and #9 Crafty Gal (4-1) is well worth backing in this $5,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares.

A four-year-old daughter of Kantharos (who sires a strong 15% winners from first-time starters), Crafty Gal has put together a lengthy work tab in preparation for her debut, highlighted by a quick half-mile from the Turfway Park starting gate in :48 1/5. Jockey Walter Rodriguez (a 40% winner teaming up with Ward over the last two months) is named to ride, so let’s keep things simple with a win bet on Crafty Gal.


  • #9 Crafty Gal (4-1)
  • #5 Chanel Point (3-1)
  • #4 Gold Oak (9-2)


  • $25 to win on #9 Crafty Gal (4-1)

Charles Town: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 8:53 p.m. ET)

Pacesetters have won 62% of 4 1/2-furlong sprints at Charles Town this meet, while horses drawn on the rail have nabbed 23% of such contests. These angles were even more pronounced from March 9-15, with pacesetters going 8-for-10 (80%) and rail runners going 4-for-10 (40%).

With these stats in mind, how can we oppose #1 Margarita Sunset (5-1)? She posted a field-best 63 Brisnet Speed rating when finishing second over this track, distance, and class level on Feb. 14, a race in which she dueled for the early lead. Margarita Sunset is adding blinkers for her second start of the year and should be tough to catch if she breaks on top.

Since Margarita Sunset’s 5-1 morning line odds are enticing, we’ll bet her to win and call it a day. 


  • #1 Margarita Sunset (5-1)
  • #6 Lady Rambo (3-1)
  • #5 Candy Tricks (4-1)


  • $25 to win on #1 Margarita Sunset

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds: Race 3: $6,808 Pick 6 carryover (2:45 p.m. ET)

It’s been ages—at least in horse racing terms—since anyone managed to hit the $1 Pick 6 at Fair Grounds. Not since March 9 has a bettor managed to solve the sequence.

Five subsequent racing days have passed without anyone hitting the Pick 6, triggering a quintuple carryover worth $6,808 for Wednesday’s card.

Here’s the problem: Fair Grounds canceled racing last Sunday due to a forecast for heavy rain. There’s at least an outside chance the rain will prompt Wednesday’s grass races to be transferred to the main track.

On the bright side, one of the dirt races appears perfectly straightforward to handicap. Race 6, a $30,000 claimer for horses who have never won two races, has drawn 11 entries but looks like a battle between #2 Cash Fever (5-2) and #9 Quarrymen (9-2).

Cash Fever is the 5-2 morning line favorite to win this six-furlong sprint after posting sharp Brisnet Speed ratings of 89, 87, 80, and 86 in his first four starts. He’s dropping in class out of three allowance sprints at Fair Grounds and has every chance to win, though Quarrymen is exiting even tougher company, having finished fifth in the Turfway Prevue S. at Turfway Park and sixth in a Fair Grounds $100,000 allowance optional claimer won by the exciting Doncho. Dropping into a $30,000 claimer may prove sufficient to send Quarrymen to the winner’s circle for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, so we recommend using Cash Fever and Quarrymen in equal strength.

Turfway Park: Race 8: $16,033 Super High 5 carryover (9:25 p.m. ET)

If you want to win a share of Wednesday’s $16,033 carryover in the $1 Super High 5 at Turfway Park, you’ll have to decipher Race 8, an extremely competitive $5,000 claimer for horses who have never won three races.

An overflow field of 12 horses plus two also-eligibles has entered the one-mile Tapeta contest, and separating the contenders isn’t easy. Morning line favorite #14 Perfect Painting (5-2) is a logical contender after placing in his last two starts against $7,500 claiming competition at Turfway, but he’s second on the also-eligible list and is 2-for-32 lifetime, so even if he draws in he might be more inclined to settle for a minor award than vie for victory.

#11 Warrior’s Place (3-1) is another obvious contender after rallying to win a one-mile $5,000 claimer for non-winners of two races, but he’d previously lost four straight races over the same class level, and he’s far from guaranteed to win right back while stepping up to the non-winners-of-three level.

That’s why we’re leaning toward #4 Huntington (4-1) and #6 Red Hornet (9-2) as are our top choices. In February, Huntington cracked the trifecta in a $7,500 claimer for non-winners of three races, and he should appreciate dropping down to the $5,000 level. Meanwhile, Red Hornet is making his Tapeta debut after competing in a long series of tougher contests on turf and dirt. He could fire a strong shot while dropping in class and returning from a layoff after being claimed by trainer Brittany Vanden Berg, a 25% winner with new claiming acquisitions.

Good luck!