Belle's Best Bets: Eyeing a Pair of Longshots on Louisiana Derby Day

Eclipse Sportswire

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 23

Longshot Play

Fair Grounds, Race 10, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, 4:34 p.m. ET

#11 Core Beliefs: Although his résumé isn’t as flashy as some others in this race, a lot of his efforts came against the best 3-year-olds last year, most of whom would make light work of a field like this. Pending a good break, he should be closer to the pace, and that bodes well for a runner that has been affected by some slow starts in his prior races. The 1 1/8-mile distance is ideal, and the drop in class could prove very useful.

Best Bet

Fair Grounds, Race 11, $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap, 5:10 p.m. ET

#7 Bricks and Mortar: His most recent effort in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational was exceptionally impressive, as he showed how dangerous he could be off a well-rated trip. His versatility is key, as he doesn’t need the front end to win, and he has shown a powerful closing kick. Look for him to make it three in a row as all signs point to him as the one to beat.

Longshot Play

Fair Grounds, Race 13, $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby, 6:13 p.m. ET

#4 Sueno: He narrowly missed last time out in the Southwest Stakes, not getting up in time to nip the eventual winner at the wire, despite putting forth a good effort. In that race, he ended up finishing second, just ahead of last week’s Rebel Stakes first division winner Long Range Toddy. Look for this runner to once again try and work out a stalking trip, and produce an upset at generous odds.

Best Bet

Oaklawn Park, Race 10, 6:37 p.m. ET

#1 Zippy Lou: His times at this six-furlong sprint distance are seconds faster than almost every horse entered today. He has had trouble over his most recent three tries while tiring in deep stretch. Look for him to take advantage of the inside post, and hopefully avoid a pace duel upfront. If that is the case, I love his chances to finally get that elusive first victory.

Favorite Sports Pick of the Weekend

Saturday March 23

National Basketball Association: Boston Celtics @ Charlotte Hornets

PICK: Celtics money line (TBD): With the NBA regular season getting into the closing few games of the season, every game matters for playoff contenders. The Celtics have struggled down the stretch and find themselves currently as the five seed, one game back of the Pacers. They take on the Hornets, who look likely to miss the playoffs. Boston has won nine out of 10 in the head-to-head, and the Celtics still have an opportunity to improve on their seeding. Look for them to get the job done in a game they should cruise in versus the Hornets, who have lost seven of 10.

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