Best Bets of the Weekend: Eye on Oaklawn, Sunday Score at Santa Anita

Fans at Oaklawn Park celebrate a winner. (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, April 15

Best Bet

Keeneland Race Course, Race 7, Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes, 4:24 p.m. ET

#4 Scuba: With many entered in here today that seem to be a little “camera shy,” not seeing the winner's circle in more than a year, I like to find a horse that has seemingly found his groove winning his last three straight, two of which are in the graded stakes ranks. I think he’ll be forwardly placed and break to the lead. It’s ultra tough to pass an uncontested horse who is racing on the front end, and I think he could have fractions just the way he desires.

Exacta Box

Oaklawn Park, Race 7, Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, 4:57 p.m. ET

#8 Whitmore: He’s been inconsistent with breaking from the starting gate, which could prove to be problematic due to the short distance and inherently less forgiving nature of having less ground to make up for early mistakes. I do think he’s the most talented in here and I think he’ll be in the money, however there are others at bigger prices I’d take a shot with.

#9 Apprehender: This gelding is interesting and the double-digit odds (15-1 on the morning line) add to his appeal. Surprisingly some of his best races were won spotting the field eight-plus lengths and making his move in deep stretch. I’m not entirely sure the fractions of this race will be to his liking, but I think he fits in well with this group. I like how his jockey Alex Birzer has been aboard for all of his 2016 and 2017 mounts and seems to know him well.

#6 Holy Boss: I’m shocked by his morning-line odds set at 5-1. I would have thought he’d be co-favorite or a shorter price due to the caliber of horses he’s faced within the graded stakes ranks and his speed figures. I think there’s no denying his talent, and I like how he’ll be forwardly placed at a track which often tends to be speed favoring. Mike Smith aboard is great news for me.

Best Bet

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, 6:09 p.m. ET

#3 Midnight Storm: This horse has really been impressive on both turf and dirt surfaces. I don’t necessarily think he’s best suited to racing on dirt, but I do think he’s entered against very soft competition today. I don’t see anyone challenging him for the lead early on, and this is one horse and one jockey (Mike Smith) I would never leave uncontested on the lead. I think he’s just too good not to include as a single in your exotic wagers.

Sunday, April 16

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, San Pedro Stakes, 7:30 p.m. ET

#1 Bobby Abu Dhabi: There’s no denying this colt found his niche sprinting. He broke his maiden impressively in his first-ever start and, unfortunately, just couldn’t handle racing the longer distance after getting into a speed duel early against Grade 1 horses. Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. has ridden both this colt and the other Peter Miller-trained horse, and I don’t think it was as easy of a choice on who to ride today, but I think he chose well.

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