Best Bets: Bombs Away Before Ball Drops on 2017

Fans watch the action at Santa Anita Park. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

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.

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

Saturday, Dec. 30

Longshot Play

Santa Anita Park, Race 6, 6:01 p.m. ET

#8 Donworth: He’s been incredibly inconsistent, but if he puts forth anything close to his top two efforts he’s a clear standout and should romp. His past performance lines are tough to dissect because ran second in a Grade 2 in August, but he’s been known to put in poor races even against optional claimers. Workout wise, he seems exceptionally sharp and I’m willing to take a shot that the best horse in the field will come out with an honest effort.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, Midnight Lute Stakes, 7:02 p.m. ET

#4 Masochistic: He’s one of the best sprinters in North America when he’s on his game. This gelding tends to be very headstrong and it’s often concerning that he needs to be on or near the lead. There isn’t a lot of speed entered, so if he can manage to stay away from a speed duel involving the gelding to his direct outside, and with a clean break he’ll be super tough to pass in deep stretch.

Sunday, Dec. 31

Longshot Play

Santa Anita Park, Race 1, 3:30 p.m. ET

#9 Sword Fighter: I love these downhill turf races at Santa Anita, and in these I handicap a form from the outside in, as the rail is often a super problematic and tricky position with the quick turns and potentially struggling to find racing room if you draw an inside post. The dirt-to-turf angle is interesting with this gelding, who definitely prefers sprinting. It’s nice to see that he was entered in a juvenile turf stakes race in his second career start - that’s often very promising. I’ll hope for somewhere in the 7-1 to 10-1 odds range at post.

Longshot Play

Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 4:30 p.m. ET

#8 Little Juanito: The price should be nice on this colt who tries his luck against winners for the first time. He narrowly missed winning in his first turf start on the downhill course. I like his versatility and that it doesn’t look like he needs the lead. Timing-wise, he fits in well with this group and I expect an honest price at post time.

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