Best Bets of the Weekend: Coast-to-Coast Mastery

Horses race toward the finish line at Tampa Bay Downs, host of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday. (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, March 11

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 5, San Felipe Stakes, 5:04 p.m. ET

#4 Mastery: There's no denying this colt is the real deal. He's undefeated in his career thus far, including a win at this distance in which, after dueling early, he proved to be much the best in the Los Alamitos Futurity. It's always tough to pass a well-rated horse on the front end, and I think that's exactly what this colt will prove to be today. He should lead every step of the way.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, Triple Bend Stakes, 6:30 p.m. ET

#5 Masochistic: This gelding narrowly missed ending 2016 on a perfect note after finishing second in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint. He's a multiple graded stakes winner over the years and he seems to be at the top of his form now, especially speed-wise. I always hate betting horses coming off a layoff — he hasn't raced in over four months — but last time he was racing off a lengthy layoff he romped by more than six lengths. He's much the best today and probably will race uncontested on the front end.

Best Bet

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 11, Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, 5:27 p.m. ET

#5 Tapwrit: If you're looking for an ideal racing pedigree, here is is, but it certainly didn't come cheap with this colt going for a price of $1.2 million as a yearling at auction. I have zero concerns about him handling the distance, and the addition of blinkers in his second career start seemed to work really well for him. While this year's group of 3-year-olds as a whole seems nearly impossible to differentiate from, this colt looks much the best in here today for me.

Sunday, March 12

Exacta Box

Aqueduct,  Race 8, Stymie Stakes, 4:50 p.m. ET

#1 Sunny Ridge: He's done well historically at Aqueduct on the inner-dirt surface posting one of his best career Beyer Speed Figures in his last one. He's yet to win at this distance, however I think that is partly due to the tougher competition he's faced within the graded stakes ranks. His best effort definitely puts him in the running to win, and I think the price will be right at post time to take a shot on a gelding who should appreciate the class drop today.

#3 Royal Posse: It's certainly tough to ignore this gelding's career stats, finishing first or second in 21 of his 35 career races. He's also excelled at this distance and enters today winning four of his last five. He's consistently heavily bet (for good reason!) and probably will offer a super-short price. Not much to say about this one ... his record speaks for itself.

#8 Diversify: This lightly raced gelding is entirely different from my last two selections, but he's a must include in all your exotics! It's tough to gauge what type of an effort we will see from him, as he takes a big jump in class today. He's won his last three ultra-impressively, winning them all in hand, and he posted back-to-back 100+ Beyer Speed Figures. I'm also very impressed by his recent workout on March 6 on the training track at Belmont Park when he covered a half-mile in :48.85, the fastest of 73 timed workouts at that distance!

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