Best Bets of the Weekend: Live Longshots at Belmont, Keeneland

Racing fans enjoy a day at Belmont 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, Oct. 21

Best Bet

Belmont Park, Race 2, Maid of the Mist Stakes, 12:55 p.m. ET

#4 Pure Silver: This talented filly has won three of her four career starts, including a romp in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes. She didn’t really look comfortable in her last start, and it looked like she never really had a chance to settle in and run her race. I think this partly may have to do with the talented group of Grade 1 runners she was up against. She will be stretching to one mile for the first time and, while I think she excels sprinting, she takes a huge drop in class today and I expect she will lead the field from start to finish.

Longshot Play

Belmont Park, Race 5, Empire Classic Handicap, 2:34 p.m. ET

#9 Royal Posse: He’s had a lot of excuses recently with quite a few minor stumbles and setbacks at the break. There’s no denying he’s trending downward by the competition he’s faced recently and declining Beyer Speed Figures, however, it was only a little more than a year ago that he posted five wins and four seconds in a stretch of nine starts, including four straight wins. With his best effort, he’s definitely a contender and 12-1 morning-line odds sure help the case.

Best Bet

Belmont Park, Race 6, Sleepy Hollow Stakes, 3:07 p.m. ET

#2 Battle Station: Lots to like, including an impressive victory against stakes company at Belmont Park last month. Despite facing off against a small field, he led every step of the way and pulled away to a comfortable 9 ¼-length margin of victory. I like that he drew inside of most of his rivals, and I think he’ll be comfortable on the front end or sitting in a pocket just behind the speed horse to his inside. He also benefits from a jockey upgrade to Tyler Gaffalione, who’s found a lot of success here this season.

Longshot Play

Keeneland, Race 9, Lexus Raven Run Stakes, 5:30 p.m. ET

#3 Pinch Hit: She’s been a lot better since adding blinkers and takes a huge jump up in class today to try a Grade 2 race following a solid rally in her last start in the Dogwood Stakes. I think this is without a doubt her ideal distance and seemingly not being dependent on a perfect start or being forwardly placed could prove to be quite the asset. There’s something to be said about a horse entering in sharp form and, although she’s been up against mostly easier competition, trying her luck again in the graded stakes ranks (she finished fourth in the Grade 3 Groupie Doll Stakes in August) seems like the logical jump. She certainly is a contender to win.

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