Best Bets: Star Power at Santa Anita, Sunland Longshot

Fans cheer home a winner at Santa Anita 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, March 24

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 5, Santa Monica Stakes, 5 p.m. ET

#3 Paradise Woods: I would have preferred to have already seen a start in 2018 but she historically has been sharp off a layoff. To see her entered in a sprint is interesting as it’s where she began her career. If she leaves the gate in a hurry and is forwardly placed, she’s shown to be a tough filly to pass in deep stretch and will most likely wire the field. The price is fair as this doesn’t look to be her ideal distance, but the class is certainly prevalent.

Best Bet

Fair Grounds, Race 10, Fair Ground Oaks, 5:41 p.m. ET

#8 Wonder Gadot: Although she is not technically dropping in class she should definitely still appreciate facing easier. It looks like she often struggles to get going if placed farther back, so I hope to see her sent along early. Effort wise, it’s tough to gauge what to expect but she’s certainly capable of a romp if positioned well.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, San Luis Rey Stakes, 7 p.m. ET

#2 Itsinthepost: He draws a great post and enters off two straight solid efforts. I like the return to the 1 ½-mile distance — he prefers going longer and has historically excelled at this track. The price is a bit short, but I think the post works to his advantage as he can take back or be sent along early. It is always nice to back a horse with racing versatility.

Sunday, March 25

Longshot Play

Sunland Park, Race 11, Sunland Derby, 8:15 p.m. ET

#4 Hollywood Star: His recent two starts are tricky to assess as he did look overmatched in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile — the poor post and awful start didn’t help matters — and his last effort just looked flat. The talent is definitely there, and we have seen hints of a lot of potential. If he races anything like his first two career starts, he has a very good shot.

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