Best Bets of the Weekend: Stars and Stripes Day Picks

(Eclipse Sportswire)

America’s Best Racing and handicapper (and avid gambler) Monique Vág team up to provide horseplayers with their best bets of the weekend in a regular feature blog that will run on Fridays.

Each week, handicapper and avid gambler Monique Vág will provide at least one “Best Bet” of the weekend, ideal for a win bet. The post also will include some combination of additional bets for the weekend.

For some posts, Vág will try to identify a longshot play of the weekend, a nice opportunity to swing for the fences on a win bet or to take a shot with a show bet. She also will look for strong exacta plays for the weekend or occasionally try to spot a nice opportunity for other wagers.

This Weekend’s Bets

Longshot Play

Saturday, Race 7, Belmont Park, Dwyer Stakes, 3:57 p.m. ET

#7 Swipe: In his 2015 racing season, he was consistently second-best to Nyquist which immediately piques my attention. He's coming back off surgery to correct a breathing problem and I'm not sure what type of efforts he's capable of. If he runs anything like his campaign last year, he's certainly a top contender. The favorite in here is giving a lot of added weight to the field (see race conditions). I like that Swipe reunites with regular rider Kent Desormeaux and I think he has a big shot.

Exacta Box

Saturday, Race 8, Belmont Park, Belmont Derby Invitational, 4:38 p.m. ET

#13 Deauville: He ships in from racing in the UK and tries his luck on American soil for the first time. He's cutting back to ten furlongs and will likely be closing from pretty far back in here today. One can argue turf conditions may not have been ideal for him in his previous starts. The addition of Lasix adds to his appeal. I think he's facing much easier in here today and I think he's the one to beat.

#5 Surgical Strike: He's quietly performed well throughout the graded stakes ranks in 2016 with two wins and three other in-the-money finishes. I love the addition of Jose Ortiz today: he knows the Belmont turf surface extremely well and may help this horse improve even more. He will be spotting the field quite a few lengths and will be making his move really late. I'm not sure a mile and a quarter is the ideal distance for him, but at 15-1 ML I'm certainly willing to take a shot on a horse showing good signs of improvement.

#8 Airoforce: This colt started out racing his first three career races on the turf. He broke his maiden there, and is a graded stakes winner on both turf and dirt. A lot of horses look like they will be making moves late and if fractions aren't very fast up front, I think this colt may receive an ideal trip and run away with it in the stretch. Mark Casse has been training some excellent turf horses this year and I think this one looms a serious threat at big odds and worthy of a closer look.

Best Bet

Saturday, Race 11, Belmont Park, Belmont Sprint Championship, 6:23 p.m. ET

#2 Private Zone: Making his 2016 debut a winning effort today won't be an easy task. He's a front-running gelding who runs his best races going seven furlongs and has shown a liking towards the Belmont dirt surface. He's coming off one of the worst races of his career, but I'm expecting a big bounce back effort today. He'll be on the lead and historically has proven tough to pass when positioned on the front end.

Saturday, Race 4, Santa Anita Park, 6 p.m. ET

#1 Firing Line: With a great card of racing at Belmont Park today, it's easy to miss this colt entered in a very soft spot over at Santa Anita Park. After breaking his maiden, this colt has gone on to race in solely graded stakes company. He consistently shows up, puts in a good effort and takes a huge drop in class today. It's very simple for me to cross out his last start, he stumbled at the start and never really had any shot to recover in the Preakness Stakes. He won't go off anywhere near his morning line odds, but I think this is a nice spot to single in your exotic wagers, or to kick off the Pick 6!

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