Belle’s Best Bets: Live Longshot Trying Turf, Finding Gem at Del Mar

Fans at Del Mar watch the horses race through the stretch. (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, Dec. 1

Best Bet

Aqueduct, Race 6, Go for Wand Handicap, 2:06 p.m. ET

#1 Marley’s Freedom: She’s a very short price and that’s obviously for good reason as she’s dominated the graded stakes ranks, with her only loss recently being a close fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Her times are seconds faster than most of the others in here and, although she has never raced a mile before, it should play well into her stalking style. Single her in all of your exotics.

Longshot Play

Del Mar, Race 7, Hollywood Derby, 6:30 p.m. ET

#7 Instilled Regard: This million-dollar purchase and 2018 Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher was recently moved to new trainer Chad Brown. After a disappointing effort in the Pennsylvania Derby, he will be trying turf for the first time. The move is intriguing as he has done well enough on the dirt, but Brown is dominant in turf races and the surface change plus an ideal distance could spark big results at a huge price!

Best Bet

Del Mar, Race 8, 7 p.m. ET

#8 Stratford End: Hard not to think he has a huge upper hand on most of the other runners entered today as he’s already had two solid starts, with most of his main competition making their racing debuts. He’s shown enough early speed to overcome drawing a little outside. Hopefully, he breaks well and is rated comfortably on the front end. Trainer Simon Callaghan boasts fantastic numbers with 2-year-olds and with beaten favorites in their next start.

Longshot Play

Del Mar, Race 9, 7:30 p.m. ET

#4 Sapphire Kid: She has looked decent in her recent turf races. Hopefully, with a clean break, she’s either leading or near the front end as her best efforts have come when setting or pressing the pace. The lack of consistency should help inflate the price at post time, but when she’s on her game she could definitely post the upset as she fits in well with this group.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Saturday, Dec. 1

College Football: Texas Longhorns @ Oklahoma Sooners

PICK: Oklahoma - 7 1/2  (-110): This Big 12 Championship Game should not disappoint as it is a much anticipated rematch of their game earlier this season which handed the Sooners their only loss of the season at 11-1. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is coming off one of his better games last season rushing for over 100 yards, and throwing for over 360 on the road versus a very tough West Virginia team. Defensively, the Sooners will need to be better, and that starts with the reason their defensive coordinator was fired in the first place – the loss to Texas.

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