Belle’s Best Bets: Finding Value at Saratoga, Del Mar

Fans watch the action at Del Mar in July 2017. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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, July 21

Longshot Play

Saratoga Race Course, Race 2, 1:33 p.m. ET

#9 Noble Spirit: Maiden races are always fun, especially at Saratoga where the field sizes are big and the racing is super-competitive. Let’s take a shot on this runner who has had five recent workouts on the Saratoga training track and looks like he will take well to the turf and distance. I think the price will be better than his 4-1 morning line at post, and I anticipate he will be involved in the pace scenario early.

Best Bet

Saratoga Race Course, Race 3, 2:07p.m. ET

#3 Awesome Slew: He drops out of racing mostly against Grade 1 runners to this allowance/optional claiming race, and I think while he’s put forth some good efforts the drop in class is necessary. Although this is a very competitive race, I find myself on this runner because the primary challenger is making his first start in nine months. I also appreciate that, although he has not won this year, he’s at least made three prior starts and should be sharp.

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 4, Ontario Colleen Stakes, 4:47 p.m. ET

#6 Got Stormy: She ships in from Belmont Park after winning two straight against much tougher than she’s up against today. Mark Casse has always had a ton of success at Woodbine, and I think today will be no different with this runner who, speed-figure wise, seems to be in a league of her own.

Longshot Play

Del Mar, Race 8, San Clemente Stakes, 8:30 p.m. ET

#2 Ms Bad Behavior: This is a super-wide-open race with a huge field. I like this filly who has consistently put forth solid efforts. I like how she’s usually in the mix of things early and she’s consistently been backed at the windows in her prior attempts, which is a good sign for younger horses. I love how she draws inside of her main competition, which could have a tricky time navigating from the outside posts in a full field of 14.

Sports Pick of the Weekend

Friday, July 20

Major League Baseball: San Diego Padres @ Philadelphia Phillies.

Pick: UNDER (odds TBD). In game one of the four-game series, the Phillies send Jake Arietta to the mound who has been solid in his most recent outings, posting a 1.89 ERA. Historically, he’s done well in his career starts versus the Padres and has a big advantage pitching at home. On the Padres side, pitcher Clayton Richard has done well in his career versus the Phillies and should have success pitching against a team that has struggled all year versus lefties.

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