Belle’s Best Bets: Selections for a ‘Rebel-Rebel’ Stakes Card at Oaklawn

Fans enjoying racing at Oaklawn 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 March 16

Best Bet

Oaklawn Park, Race 3, 3:11 p.m. ET

#9 Cowboy Diplomacy: There isn’t a lot of speed entered in this race, which makes him dangerous if he can get a good jump out of the gate. He has only made one career start and was bet heavily in that effort, but was not able to capitalize after making a three-wide bid for the lead. Although he has only had that one start, with the jockey change and added furlongs in this race (from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth), he looks like the one to beat.

Longshot Play

Oaklawn Park, Race 6, 4:45 p.m. ET

#3 Fight On: He has been racing on both turf and dirt, and has not shown a preference towards one or the other. Speed-wise, he has logged some pretty consistent times on both surfaces and he has flashed great closing speed in a couple of those efforts. Hopefully, the move out of California and a switch back to dirt from turf sparks a big performance.

Best Bet

Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $350,000 Azeri Stakes, 5:21 p.m. ET

#5 Elate: The last time she made her start after a lengthy layoff, it was versus graded stakes competition and she displayed little rust. That bodes well for Saturday’s race as it has been six months since her last effort. This 1 1/16-mile distance might be a little bit shorter than she prefers, but her versatility always makes her a threat as she doesn’t need the front end to win. Make sure to check out how she looks in the paddock and in the post parade to see how she is taking to the track after spending some time off.

Longshot Play

Oaklawn Park, Race 10, $750,000 Rebel Stakes, 7:06 p.m. ET

#2 Laughing Fox: The current Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve favorite in Game Winner is entered in this division of the Rebel Stakes, and he’s definitely a very deserving favorite, but the price is far too short to back a horse who has not raced in four months and is up against some stiff competition.  Let’s take a shot on this horse, who has put forth some sneaky good efforts and has shown a really nice late closing kick in both of his 3-year-old starts. If he gets a good break, the inside post should help him work out a good trip.

Favorite Sports Pick of the Weekend

Sunday, March 16

National Basketball Association: Portland Trail Blazers @ San Antonio Spurs

PICK: OVER the total (TBD): The Spurs and Blazers are among the best 3-point shooting teams in the Association with the Spurs averaging 42.6 percent on their home court, and the Blazers hitting at 35.9 percent. The Spurs have played their best ball at home all season, and seem rejuvenated after the All-Star break. Portland has also been on an impressive run of their own, averaging 124.3 points per game over their most recent three.

Look for points in this contest, as both offenses seem to be clicking at the right time. Back Over the game total when it is released.

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