Belle's Best Bets: Gulfstream, Aqueduct Value Plays, NFL Wildcard Pick

Fans take a closer look at the horses in the paddock before a race at Gulfstream Park. (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, Jan. 5

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 5, Ginger Brew Stakes, 2:05 p.m. ET

#1 Pivottina: Since her North American debut two starts ago, she’s been prone to slow starts. This has harmed her chances against graded stakes competition, despite her nice closing kick, leaving her too far back to close in time. Hopefully, she breaks a bit cleaner from the inside post, and the drop in class helps get her back into the win column.

Longshot Play

Aqueduct, Race 7, 3:30 p.m. ET

#7 Forced: Despite coming out of a race against easier competition against less-talented allowance horses at an easier track in Laurel Park, he seems to be significantly faster than most of the others entered today. That could prove to be a recipe for success for a runner who prefers to set the pace. Look for him to wire the field at a nice price.

Longshot Play

Aqueduct, Race 8, La Verdad Stakes, 3:59 p.m. ET

#8 Byself:  There isn’t much that separates this field as there are no noticeable drops in class, and speed-wise they are logging similar numbers. This filly has shown some nice racing versatility and has been competitive in every race, finishing first or second in six of her seven career starts. She should be competitive at a nice price.

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, Kitten’s Joy Stakes, 4:10 p.m. ET

#9 Henley's Joy: He drew the outside post, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem as he definitely possesses the early speed to overcome it, and the field size is not huge. He's very fast, and he has shown ability to win close to the pace or a little bit off it. He is definitely the one to beat.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Saturday, Jan. 5

National Football League: Indianapolis Colts versus Houston Texans

PICK: Houston Texans ML (-120): Both teams struggled early starting out 1-5, and 0-3, respectively, before turning their seasons around. If the Texans want any shot at winning this game, they will need to keep Deshaun Watson upright as the Texans offensive line have given up the most sacks in the NFL with 62.

The Texans defensively are surrendering only 19.6 points a game, and they definitely have the ability to make life difficult on Andrew Luck, and force the Colts into making mistakes. Give Houston the edge at home and back them on the money line as small favorites.

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