Belle's Best Bets: River City Longshot, NFL Division Rivalry Play

Fans at Churchill Downs scour the program in search of a winner. (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 in April 2018.

This Weekend’s Bets

Friday, Nov. 15

Best Bet

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:20 p.m. ET

#4 Kept True: In a field with a lot of fillies that really want to control the tempo on the front end, she might have the best racing style that will put her in the best position to win – sitting just off the speed, stalking. Saturday she drops out of the stakes ranks to take on easier, and looms as the one to beat off her two prior wins versus quality competition at Belmont Park and Saratoga.

Saturday, Nov. 16

Longshot Play

Woodbine, Race 5, 3:07 p.m. ET

#7 Bells of War: She ships in after racing in a dirt sprint at Belmont Park and now gets a chance to try the synthetic Tapeta surface. She didn’t get an ideal trip in her debut, chasing speed wide around the first turn. Look for her to settle in nicely and hopefully improve while making a surface change and trying the all-weather for the first time. Her trainer, Michael Trombetta, is clicking at 25% moving from dirt to the all-weather surface.

Best Bet

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:50 p.m. ET

#2 Altea: Her experience versus tougher and within the graded stakes ranks could prove very useful going up against a field with a lot of inexperience. This filly has put forth efforts seconds faster than most of the others in here, and should thrive getting to face off against much easier. She’s at her best when chasing some speed early, but if the break isn’t ideal and she is off a bit slow, she has flaunted a very powerful late closing kick. Racing versatility is a big asset with younger horses.

Longshot Play

Churchill Downs, Race 10, $175,000 River City Handicap, 5:36 p.m. ET

#1 Cullum Road: In a wide-open field with not a lot of early speed, look into backing this runner at a nice price as he draws a great post to work out the preferred stalking trip. He has always thrived going longer, so the added distance of today’s race appears to be a bonus for this horse, who will be much closer to the pace than some of the shorter prices.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Sunday, Nov. 17

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

PICK: New Orleans Saints –5 (-110):  The Saints are struggling offensively and the pressures of making the postseason are looming. These two teams are very familiar having already met earlier this season with the Bucs almost pulling off the upset against a Saints team missing QB Drew Brees. With the Superdome being a very difficult place to play, the Saints needing a big bounce back after a disappointing loss to the (at the time) one-win Falcons, and in a division rivalry game, I like the Saints to get that necessary statement win.

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