Best Bets: Saturday Stakes Plays, Spicy Price on Sunday

Fans watch horses race in the stretch at Belmont Park. (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 23

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 8, Singspiel Stakes, 4:57 p.m. ET

#7 Johnny Bear: He’s best suited racing longer distances and he’s really shown an affinity for the Woodbine turf surface. I expect him to be much sharper today making his second start off a six-month layoff and returning to a distance at which he’s had his top two career performances.

Longshot Play

Monmouth Park, Race 10, Open Mind Stakes, 5:33 p.m. ET

#2 So Hi Society: I see why Chad Brown and connections chose to bring this filly to North America – pedigree-wise she’s super solid and she was very competitive versus stakes company. Sometimes the transition to a completely new turf surface takes time, and I do think she will continue to improve. With a clean run in the stretch, she will be closing late and I like her chances.

Best Bet

Canterbury Park, Race 5, Mystic Lake Derby, 9:18 p.m. ET

#8 Captivating Moon: The super-large field makes for a really great betting race as money is distributed more ways and even the shorter prices are often fair to take shots on. This colt has had his start compromised numerous times this year with bumps and slow beginnings. He’s shown that he can be competitive sitting closer to the pace or closing from way back. His stakes experience and experience on turf and racing longer than a mile are huge assets as well as drawing a great post in a large field.

Sunday, June 24

Longshot Play

Belmont Park, Race 9, New York Stallion Stakes, 5:50 p.m. ET

#4 Five Star Bunt: With the favorite drawing the extreme outside, let’s take a shot on a horse that may end up having a much more favorable trip. This gelding has been much better since moving to the Linda Rice barn, and I like his last effort on the turf. He’s racing against similar today and I expect him to be forwardly placed once again.

Favorite Sports Pick of the Weekend

Friday, June 22

Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates. PICK: Pittsburgh ML (+110)

Game 1 of this series between these two teams saw a very lopsided victory for the visiting Diamondbacks who got out to an 8-0 start through three innings.  There were 18 combined hits and tons of runners left stranded. This is a much better pitching matchup for the Pirates as Ivan Nova has posted a 6-4 record this year. He enters off two straight wins allowing only two runs over his last 11 plus innings of work.  The Pirates need this one to stay competitive in the NL Central.

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