Best Bets: Saturday Longshots at Woodbine, Sunday World Cup Play

Woodbine fans celebrate picking a winner. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

America’s Best Racing and handicapper (and avid gambler) Monique Vág team up to provide horseplayers with their best bets of the weekend in a regular feature blog that will run on Fridays.

For some posts, Vág will try to identify a 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 look for strong exacta plays for the weekend or occasionally try to spot a nice opportunity for other wagers.

This Weekend’s Bets

Saturday, June 30

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 3, Charlie Barley Stakes, 1:06 p.m. ET

#4 Machtree: His recent effort on the turf was in a graded stakes race where there wasn’t any bid in deep stretch and he just looked flat. I think part of that was due to the competition being too tough. He’s run well on the synthetic surface at Woodbine in two starts since then and returns to the turf, a surface on which he has put forth the best career efforts. The enormous jockey upgrade to John Velazquez and the drop out of graded stakes competition really adds to his appeal.

Longshot Play

Woodbine, Race 6, King Edward Stakes, 2:53 p.m. ET

#6 Conquest Panthera: I think this race is a lot more wide open than it initially appears to be, especially since there isn’t much consistency and the speed figures are slow. With that being said, a favorite who looks to be regressing from peak form doesn’t appeal to me, nor does a shorter price on a horse who hasn’t raced in nearly 10 months. I find myself on this gelding as he seems to like Woodbine’s turf course and has significant graded stakes experience at very generous morning-line odds.

Longshot Play

Woodbine, Race 8, Dance Smartly Stakes, 4:18 p.m. ET

#1 Dream Dancing: Distance will not be an issue for this filly who loves racing longer. The super-long stretch at Woodbine tends to favor closers, and I think she has a very good chance catching them late. Although the current form isn’t the most appealing, I think a lot of that is due to a couple of races on wet turf and because she is so dependent on pace. That certainly leaves the door open for poor stat lines. I like her chances.

Best Bet

Belmont Park, Race 8, Mother Goose Stakes, 5:18 p.m. ET

#2 Midnight Bisou: The short price isn’t appealing at all, but I do think she is one of the most likely winners on the whole card. A seven-wide stretch bid made closing on world-class horses in the Longines Kentucky Oaks almost impossible, plus she was a little too far back early. She should appreciate the drop to face easier competition, and I think the smaller field should help keep her much closer to the pace today.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Sunday, July 1

World Cup. Spain vs. Russia. PICK: Spain ML (-160)

Going into the tournament this Russian team received a lot of criticism for being one of the weakest teams in 40 years but, despite that, the host nation finds itself out of the group stage and Russia managed to score eight times along the way.

Spain is the much better team of the two and had a much more difficult ride to get to this point. Russia really struggled versus Uruguay and certainly showed vulnerability defensively. I think Spain wins this one comfortably, and the odds are fair.

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