Belle's Best Bets: Searching for a Stakes Score

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, Dec. 14

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 3, $100,000 Display Stakes, 2:04 p.m. ET

#2 Vanzzy: Although this is a small field, it is definitely a competitive one with many horses expected to get some attention at the betting windows.  This colt adds blinkers today and that may be very useful at the break as it seems his start has been compromised twice, once in his debut where he drifted and in his most recent when he was off a bit slow and bobbled. His best effort was routing, so I like the return to longer and trying the all-weather Tapeta surface could be a recipe for success.

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes, 4 p.m. ET

#5 Channel Cat: He has been getting better with every start and even won a graded stakes event this past summer at Saratoga. I think he is at his best working out a stalking trip, and that could be exactly the trip he gets with quite a bit of speed entered directly to his outside. He should appreciate getting to face off against easier today, and having John Velazquez on board for the second time in his career adds to the appeal.

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, 4:30 p.m. ET

#8 Realm: This is a super deep and competitive field for a Grade 3 event and that will probably be reflected at post time with no clear-cut favorite. This gelding has been competitive in his most recent races, and is at his best working out a stalking trip. The outside post should put him into play, and if he can settle in early and make one late stretch rally it would not be surprising to see him produce the upset.Longshot Play

Woodbine, Race 8, 4:40 p.m. ET

#2 Mayan Ghost: He disappointed last time out as a short favorite, but this time gets to debut for a new trainer, Norman McKnight, who has fantastic numbers off the claim at 31%.  It’s great to see this colt try his luck sprinting again as his best efforts have been at a shorter distance. Hopefully he is a little bit closer positioned today in a smaller field as being too far back has hindered his chances.

Sports Pick of the Weekend

Sunday, Dec. 14

NFL:  Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers

PICK: Seahawks –5.5 (-110):  The Seahawks defense have really struggled recently losing Sunday night 28-12 to the Rams allowing a total of 455 yards of offense. The Panthers have a similar problem with their defense vulnerable surrendering an average of 27.7 points per game.

With the Panthers firing head coach Ron Rivera before Sunday’s game, and still losing 40-20 to the Falcons last week, their season is all but over. Take Seattle in a big bounce back game and lay the 5.5 points.

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