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. 9
Arlington Park, Race 7, Arlington-Washington Futurity, 5:35 p.m. ET
#7 Barry Lee: He ran super impressively in his debut but definitely wasn’t ready for graded stakes competition yet as he deeply disappointed finishing 22 lengths back as a short-priced favorite in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special. I think he’s capable of a good rebound performance and the drop in class could help to trigger a big effort. I’m nowhere near ready to dismiss this colt yet.
Belmont Park, Race 8, Seattle Slew Stakes, 5:13 p.m. ET
#1 Backsideofthemoon: This is definitely a huge longshot play as this horse will almost surely be double-digit odds, but there are some positive signs that intrigue me. None in here today is entering in super-sharp form — many have struggled against lesser competition and are now moving up to the stakes ranks. I like how this ridgling receives a huge jockey upgrade to John Velazquez, and I think could he tap into some untouched potential. Turf to dirt is interesting … he definitely ran his best races on the dirt and the rail post could prove to be helpful.
Sunday, Sept. 10
Kentucky Downs, Race 3, 3:23 p.m. ET
#6 Caroline Test: She was claimed last year by Steve Asmussen and has not raced in nearly 10 months, however her two recent workouts look exceptionally sharp. It’s nice to see her return to the turf, a surface on which she ran her best career race last year at this very track. Given a clean break, she will almost surely be forwardly placed and could have it the way she wants it on the front end. I wouldn’t be surprised if she isn’t heavily pressured and is able to work out some softer fractions upfront.
Kentucky Downs, Race 5, 4:20 p.m. ET
#5 Ventry Bay: I anticipate he’ll attempt to work out a stalking trip, and I think drew a great post position to do so. He’s ran exceptionally well sprinting on the Saratoga turf, so I expect that to translate pretty well into a race with many who haven’t been as successful sprinting or are cutting back drastically in distance. He’s being run back quickly after a victory in the claiming ranks at Saratoga, and historically that’s been a successful angle. The price will be right and he has a great shot.
#9 Speedmeister: I’m super impressed by his speed figures, and I think this colt will excel racing shorter so I’m quick to dismiss his disappointing fifth going a mile. Pedigree-wise, I think he will take well to the surface change as he tries turf for the first time. He’s making his first start in nearly eight months, has been working well, and I think could definitely improve racing a shorter distance and trying turf.
#1 Pagliacci: I usually stay away from horses that look to prefer racing longer, and I’m a little surprised by the decision to race him in a turf sprint. However, the race may play out favorably for him. I think he will sit off the pace and might work out a ground-saving, rail trip. With quite a bit of early speed entered, and with a good break, this colt might be able to solidify early position just off the speedy front-runners and have a lot left to make a stretch run.