Belle’s Best Bets: Doubling Down at Churchill, Woodbine

Fans watch the races at Woodbine, which will host six graded stakes this weekend. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

America’s Best Racing, Belle Premium American Vodka, and handicapper (and avid gambler) Monique Vág team up to provide horseplayers with their best bets of the weekend.

Vág will identify her top picks as well as at least one 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 occasionally look for strong exacta plays for the weekend or try to spot a nice opportunity for other wagers.

Belle Premium American Vodka is the official vodka of America’s Best Racing. The American-made, American-owned vodka is distilled in Virginia, the birthplace of Thoroughbred breeding and racing in North America. The company’s mascot, Belle ‘n Tonic, broke her maiden at Laurel Park in Maryland last April. 

This Weekend’s Bets

Saturday, Sept. 15

Best Bet

Churchill Downs, Race 10, Iroquois Stakes, 5:26 p.m. ET

#4 Tight Ten: Although he has never competed in a route race before, his pedigree points to distance and class, and he has certainly shown a lot of talent and upside already in his young racing career. We will hope for a clean start, as he hasn’t had ideal breaks in either of his first two races. Look for this runner to be forwardly placed in an attempt to lead from start to finish.

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 9, Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association, 5:27 p.m. ET

#5 New Money Honey: She‘s been a huge disappointment since winning the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational in 2017. Dropping her out of Grade 1 competition is a necessity until she regains the form she had shown in early 2017. If she puts forth any type of effort like her two biggest wins, she will make light work of this field. I’m willing to bet she feasts on the easier competition she is up against today.

Longshot Play

Churchill Downs, Race 11, Pocahontas Stakes, 5:57 p.m. ET

#2 Love My Honey: It is rather uncommon to see a first-time starter at post time as a heavy favorite that is not coming out of the Mark Casse, Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, or Bill Mott barns, so I took note of her when she made her first start. This filly looked great in her debut despite hitting the gate at the break. I think drawing an inside post sets her up nicely to work out a similar stalking trip like she did in her debut.

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 11, Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, 6:36 p.m. ET

#5 Hawkbill: He ships in from England where he’s done really well against elite competition. Although he’s done most of his racing there, he does have a loss by a nose in this exact stakes race last year. He should take well to the longer distance of the race, and I expect his class will help him prevail.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Sunday, Sept. 16

National Football League: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

PICK: Philadelphia Eagles -3 (-110): The Bucs had no problem putting points on the board against a poor Saints secondary. Wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans carried the offensive load. Unfortunately for the Bucs, Jackson is questionable and missed practice yesterday with a potential concussion and shoulder injury. If they are without such a huge offensive weapon, they will struggle to put points on the board especially versus a defense that managed to keep the Falcons in check in their opener. Take the Eagles with the small spread.

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