Belle’s Best Bets: Backing Early Speed on Florida Derby Day

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, March 30

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 7, 2:30 p.m. ET

#10 Nonsensical: In his previous start, she was unhurried out of the gate and through the first half-mile, so hopefully an outside post position this time gives her a sense of urgency to get some good early positioning. Distance won’t be an issue for this runner who has made both of her career starts route racing, and she might benefit from the experience as well as a jockey upgrade to Joe Bravo.

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 3:34 p.m. ET

#8 Social Paranoia: His connections thought highly enough of this runner to enter him in a graded stakes race as a maiden last September, which almost worked out for them, but a four-wide trip didn’t do him any favors and he ended up finishing third. The drop in class today could prove very useful in his first start since that stakes try, and so could the change of scenery and easier competition than he faced in New York.

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 13, $250,000 Pan American Stakes, 6:00 p.m. ET

#3 Village King: Although he has quit twice already when on the front end, his speed is very dangerous, and like before he should be left alone on the front end on Saturday. Speed left alone always poses as a serious threat if rated well, as it is difficult to close on a horse that has something left in the stretch. Distance won’t be an issue for him, and he could very easily produce the upset at a nice price.

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 13, $1,000,000 Florida Derby, 6:36 p.m. ET

#7 Maximum Security: I am usually very skeptical to back horses in a race such as this who haven’t competed within the stakes ranks yet, and take noticeable jumps in class. However, speed-wise he has been incredibly impressive and he may be able to control the pace on Saturday. He draws an ideal post position, and he’s shown an ability to rate really well if needed and also has a very powerful closing kick. I hope all of these factors come into play in the Florida Derby and he finds the winner’s circle.

Favorite Sports Pick of the Weekend

Saturday March 30

National Basketball Association: Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets

PICK: Celtics money line (TBD): The Celtics made it 10 wins in a row versus the Nets before losing in early January, but they’ve already avenged their loss to (hopefully) restart a winning streak. At this point in the season where every game matters, the Celtics could still improve their playoff seeding as only three games separate fifth from third in the East. Look for Boston to take care of business on the road.

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