Belle’s Best Bets: Saratoga Longshots, Del Mar Standout

Fans making their picks at Saratoga. (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

Saturday, Aug. 24

Longshot Play

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Saratoga Race Course, Race 3, 12:41 p.m. ET

#6 Ocean Fire: She should be much better returning to the turf and racing on a firm surface. She has flaunted some early speed, which is intriguing versus a field that does not appear to have a lot of horses who will be vying for the lead. If she can get to the front and rate well, she might be able to steal this race winning wire-to-wire.

Best Bet

Saratoga Race Course, Race 8, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes, 3:35 p.m. ET

#8 Starship Jubilee: She has been dominant racing within the graded stakes ranks at Woodbine but makes a difficult move to face off against much tougher here. She has shown that she does not need the front end to win but is incredibly dangerous if left alone there. I expect her to leave the gate with some urgency and try to win it by being forwardly placed. Trainer Kevin Attard does not ship in often, but when he does he is connecting at a 21% clip.

Longshot Play

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Saratoga Race Course, Race 13, 6:54 p.m. ET

#10 Keepme in Thegame: She has yet to log a victory route racing on the turf, however she had shown a nice late closing kick and has been a popular option at the betting windows in both efforts. Drawing an outside post does not appear to be a detriment as she has not left the gate with any urgency in either career start, and looks to be one who will hope for a pace duel and make a late stretch bid.

Best Bet

Del Mar, Race 9, $200,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes, 9:00 p.m. ET

#7 Catalina Cruiser: He has won six of seven lifetime starts and has looked incredibly dominant doing so, winning most by leading every step of the way. On Saturday he returns to sprinting, where he is undefeated racing shorter than a mile. There is speed entered, so he will have to be patient and avoid any type of pace duel upfront. If he can stay out of trouble he will make light work of this field, and although the price will be super short he is a very easy single in the Pick 4/5/6 sequences.

Favorite Sports Pick of the Weekend

Saturday, Aug. 24

NCAA Football: Miami Hurricanes @ Florida Gators

PICK: Under 47 (-110): The Hurricanes go with an intriguing player at quarterback in Jarren Williams who only threw three passes last season.

There is a lot of competition at the QB position and no matter who plays for the ‘Canes, they will likely struggle versus a very solid Gators defense who is among the nation's best. The are too many uncertainties for how the Hurrricanes offense will flow and too many questions about how their offensive line will hold up starting two freshman.

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