Best Bets: Stakes Plays for Preakness Weekend

Eclipse Sportswire

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, May 19

Longshot Play

Pimlico, Race 5, $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes, 12:51 p.m. ET

#5 California Night: He was no match for graded stakes competition last time out in the Blue Grass, but I think that was too big of a jump up in class and too early. It's interesting to see the move from dirt to turf as he's done really well over the dirt throughout his career thus far. Trainer Michael Maker has been great at situating his runners and boasts a 20 percent stat first start on grass.

Best Bet

Pimlico, Race 7, $250,000 Dixie Stakes, 2:07 p.m. ET

#8 World Approval: He didn't look good last start, but that certainly looked like the exception as we have been accustomed to seeing his late closing kick which just wasn't there last time out. I do think he's much better suited at distances longer than a mile, so the extra sixteenth will most likely do more help than harm and so will the drop down in class to face Grade 2 runners.

Longshot Play

Belmont Park, Race 9, $100,000 Soaring Softly Stakes, 5:33 p.m. ET

#5 Elevenses: Although he's trying turf for the first time, he's done well throughout the sprinting ranks. His first-ever career start was scheduled to be sprinting over the turf but weather moved it to the dirt. With rain a possibility for Saturday, he may be hoping this race is moved off the turf again. The price is generous and he seems well-suited regardless of surface.

Best Bet

Pimlico, Race 13, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, 6:48 p.m. ET

#7 Justify: He will be much closer to 1/5 at post time so the play most likely won't be to back him as a WIN wager, but instead look to single him elsewhere. He's been much the best 3-year-old thus far and most of his main competition are electing to skip out on the Preakness and race elsewhere. He will likely win this contest in gate to wire fashion.

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