Belle's Best Bets: Saratoga Debut, Stakes Selections

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, Aug. 4

Longshot Play

Saratoga Race Course, Race 2, 1:35 p.m. ET

#3 Noble Nebraskan: Pedigree, training stats, and fair odds are by far the three most important things to look for when trying to handicap a maiden race with mostly first-time starters. This runner should take well to the distance and surface and I like to see good trainer numbers for debut runners on the turf and first-time starters. Look to see if he's calm in the paddock and not showing negative physical signs in the post parade, and if all things look clear, he's certainly worthy of a play.

Longshot Play

Woodbine, Race 7, $125,000 Shady Well Stakes, 4:18 p.m. ET

#7 Maritime Breeze: The morning-line price on this runner is generous as he's already shown ability to run well over the all-weather surface. Hopefully he manages to stay out of a speed duel early and breaks cleanly from the gate - I think both of those unfortunate circumstances have been what's kept this runner out of the win column thus far.

Best Bet

Saratoga Race Course, Race 9, $1.2 million Whitney Stakes, 5:46 p.m. ET

#6 Diversify: The price is really short on this runner, and that is certainly for good reason. He's won his last two starts super convincingly and looks to be improving with each start. As much as I would want to play against the short price and find someone to beat him, his 110 speed figure at Saratoga last year combined with his most recent stats on the resume really put this runner as a clear standout to me.

Best Bet

Saratoga Race Course, Race 11, $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes, 6:56 p.m. ET

#8 Voodoo Song: I backed this runner last time out and he won comfortably in gate-to-wire fashion while left uncontested on the front end. I presume his front-running style could prove advantageous once again, as the lack of speed entered in this contest could lead to another well-rated victory.

Sports Pick of the Weekend

Friday August 3

Canadian Football League: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Montreal Alouettes

PICK: Hamilton team total OVER 28.5 (-110): If you've been following along, we have had quite an impressive run playing some CFL this season. The good teams look notches above the rest and the prices have been fair thus far. While Montreal showed signs of life two weeks and their defense kept them in the game for most of it, playing on the short week did them no favors as they got humiliated by the Eskimos.

With a new quarterback for Montreal, it could go one of three ways: They move the ball well, drives stall, or lots of turnovers - I'll lean to the latter of the options. Hamilton needs this win and I think they make the most of their drives, force some mistakes out of their opposition and put points on the board.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!