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, Feb. 4
#3 Three Rules: Was no match for Classic Empire in his last (very few were last season season), but the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is his only defeat to date and he’s a perfect 5-for-5 at Gulfstream Park. There are quite a few in here that look great on paper, but I think he’s actually very well-suited to the sprinting distance he’s entered at today. He’ll most likely be on the lead today, and I don’t think any are going to be able to catch him in deep stretch.
#3 Classic Empire: The current Kentucky Derby favorite has looked every bit the part of the best 3-year-old male thus far in his career. He’s shown that the mile-and-a-sixteenth distance is not a concern. He’s flaunted this race’s top speed figures and looks to be seconds faster than any other entered today. The short price is reflected in the morning-line odds, however I think he’s a good single in your exotic wagers and my most likely winner of the weekend.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, King Cotton Stakes, 5:38 p.m. ET
#2 Ivan Fallunovalot: Since his defeat in the 2015 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint to Runhappy, he went on to win four straight in 2016, albeit against much softer competition, but mostly through the stakes ranks. He’s one of only a few in here that is a pure sprinter, and I think he’s the clear standout. I like that he’s dropping out of the graded stakes ranks and facing easier, I like the post position (great to set up a ground-saving, rail trip), and I like how in seven starts at Oaklawn Park he has five wins and two seconds.
Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 6:09 p.m. ET
#10 Tizfun: Did not break sharply in his last race and was bumped early on, which I think in turn hindered any shot at him winning. I like the addition of blinkers today — it could help with a cleaner, sharper break from the gate. I think he’s faced much tougher than most with his two starts being at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, so I think there’s something to be said about connections choosing to ship him against softer competition. The price will be big and I will certainly take a shot.