Belle’s Best Bets: Looking for Value at Belmont, Keeneland

Fans check out the horses before a race at Keeneland in 2014 in this file photo. (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 in April 2018.

This Weekend’s Bets

Saturday, Oct. 5

Best Bet

Belmont Park, Race 9, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes, 4:50 p.m. ET

#3 Ya Primo: He got involved in a pace duel in his most recent start which cost him any shot at winning his first graded stakes contest on North American soil. In the start before that, he narrowly missed getting a graded stakes win when coming up only a half-length shy when he went off at 7-2 odds in a Grade 2 race. With the wide-open nature of this field, expect a generous price. He does seem to be at his best working out a patient trip, so expect to see this runner flying down the lane late.

Longshot Play

Keeneland Race Course, Race 9, $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, 5:39 p.m. ET

#8 Ajaaweed: He rebounded in a big way after a fifth-place finish in his career debut, going on to break his maiden in his second race when stretching out in distance. I love to see how he responded to the whip and opened up in deep stretch to a comfortable 4 ¼-length victory. Timing-wise, his maiden-breaking score is comparable with some of the faster efforts, and it’s good to see that he took well to the stretch out in distance when trying routing for the first time.

Longshot Play

Keeneland Race Course, Race 10, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes, 6:15 p.m. ET

#5 Bowies Hero: Recently, we have seen him coming from farther back, and in such a wide-open, full field, there appears to be more than enough early pace to track. He is coming off a disappointing fifth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Handicap in which we did not see that explosive, late closing kick we are accustomed to, but he still only lost by two lengths. That effort at Del Mar could help inflate the odds as he gets another try to track runners down late.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, $200,000 City of Hope Mile Stakes, 7 p.m. ET

#2 Synchrony: He has found a lot of success within the graded stakes ranks, and has been at his best at this one-mile distance. His most recent two efforts have clocked in a full second faster than most of the others entered. He is at his best working out a patient ride and closing from off the pace. With plenty of speed entered, drawing inside should help him work out an ideal trip.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Sunday, Oct. 6

National Football League: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

PICK: New Orleans -5 (-110): I know we just saw the Bucs put up 55 points last week on the Rams, but there is no way they put up anywhere near that number again on the road versus a great Saints defense. This Saints D has held four of its seven most recent divisional opponents to 21 or fewer points at home.

The Bucs will continue to have their struggles running the ball as they are averaging only 3.8 yards a carry. Look for the Saints to score just enough to cover the spread comfortably and keep the Buccaneers out of the end zone.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!