Best Bets of the Weekend: Parx Picks, Belmont Exacta

Fans take in the action on Pennsylvania Derby day in this file photo. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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, Sept. 23

Longshot Play

Parx Racing, Race 3, 1:19 p.m. ET

#4 Spectacular Plum: This gelding is making his career debut for a trainer boasting great numbers with first-time starters as well as horses debuting in the maiden special weight ranks. With first-timers, I like to bet trainers which have shown success having horses ready early in their racing careers. He draws a great post and with a good break, I hope he shows off some of that speed he’s been hinting at in his workouts.

Best Bet

Parx Racing, Race 10, Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes, 4:55 p.m. ET

#9 Abel Tasman: There is no denying this filly has some serious talent and I think blinkers have been a good addition as she’s won three straight with them on. It’s nice to see her with a win already out of an outside post (post 13 of 14 in the Kentucky Oaks!) as well as a win on a sloppy track. Ideally, she would want a quicker pace upfront early today, and I think it’s very likely with quite a few fillies entered finding their way to the winner’s circle by racing on the front end.  

Best Bet

Parx Racing, Race 11, Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, 5:45 p.m. ET

#4 West Coast: He’s coming in off four straight wins, including a career-best Beyer Speed Figure in his last race in the Travers Stakes. He’s already shown ability to ship well and he’s raced effectively on the front end as well as closing from as many as six lengths back early. Racing versatility is always a nice characteristic to possess because you’re not reliant on a clean break or a particular pace scenario. Tough field, but I think he’s by far the best today.

Exacta Box

Belmont Park, Race 9, Grade 2 Kelso Handicap, 5:45 p.m. ET

#5 Sharp Azteca: He won his last race at Monmouth handily, but didn’t really face much competition. He’s definitely struggled when pressured on the front end and I think finding the winner’s circle today is pretty dependent on #6 Bird Song not pressing the pace. I think he’s by far the most talented horse in the field, but it may be worth taking him in an exacta box in case the pace up front is too hot and someone closes late after a pace battle unfolds.

#2 Tommy Macho: There’s no denying his inconsistencies recently, however I think he will definitely improve returning to racing a route distance, where he’s found the most success. Having two wins on the tricky Belmont dirt surface is appealing, and I think at probable double-digit odds at post he’s worthy of an exacta box wager with my top selection, who is definitely a vulnerable favorite.

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