Belle's Best Bets: A Pair of Pletcher Plays

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. 22 

Longshot Play 

Aqueduct, Race 3, 1:18 p.m. ET

#7 Malibu Mischief: She has shown some good speed and her maiden-breaking win at Belmont Park two starts back showed how speed left uncontested on the front end is dangerous. Pending a good break, I expect her to attempt to wire the field and relish the drop in class and return to dirt racing. 

Longshot Play 

Aqueduct, Race 7, 3:17 p.m. ET

#3 P J Advantage: He has won six of 11 career races, all sprinting, which really adds to the appeal of this runner who has found his ideal racing distance. He moves up in class today and tries his luck versus much tougher competition, but timing-wise he fits in well with this group, and upgrading to a better jockey makes him a serious contender at a nice price. 

Longshot Play

Aqueduct, Race 8, $125,000 Queens County Stakes, 3:47 p.m. ET

#4 Bal HarbourThis Todd Pletcher trainee is coming off two impressive races where he showed ability to win on the front end or from off the pace. He's had quite a few troubled stretch rides, six straight, where he was bumped around or slightly interfered with, but with a clean trip he’s shown a knack for getting to the winner’s circle. Back this runner who seems to be improving with every start. 

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes, 4:36 p.m. ET

#11 Coal FrontHe’s shown a really nice late closing kick that helps him to pull away from runners in deep stretch when he digs in. Drawing the outside post will be tricky, but he's shown some nice early speed which should help him get involved early. Another Pletcher trainee, he reunites with regular jockey John Velazquez and certainly looks like the one to beat.

Sports Pick of the Weekend 

Saturday, Dec. 22

College Football: Wake Forest vs. Memphis 

PICK: Wake Forest +3.5 (-110): In order to become Bowl eligible Wake Forest needed to win three of their final five games on the road, and they did so pulling off some upsets on the way. With Memphis' best player Darrell Henderson electing not to play, they may not have the success in the run game they were hoping for. Take the points with a team that comes in with some momentum.

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