Belle's Best Bets: Stakes Picks and a Keeneland Longshot

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 last April.

This Weekend’s Bets

Saturday, April 20

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 8, $125,000 Whimsical Stakes Presented by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, 4:51 p.m. ET

#5 Shakopee Town: Although she has never raced over the all-weather surface before, her speed figures make her a standout in this field.  Combining her quick times along with her versatility as a runner give her the edge as she doesn’t need the front end to win and she is more than comfortable closing from farther back.

Best Bet

Keeneland, Race 9, $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes, 5:30 p.m. ET

#7 Bigger Picture: He is used to facing off against much tougher and some of the best route racing horses in the world, so the drop in class and gradually moving out of Grade 1 competition should really help his chances. His best efforts have come stalking, and there looks to be more than enough speed up front early that he should be positioned well in the stretch. His back class and racing experience give him a big edge here. 

Longshot Play

Keeneland, Race 10, 6:03 p.m. ET

#6 Into Morocco: The price is too good on a runner that looked fine in his debut but had an excuse in the stretch, tiring after a wider trip. His workouts since that effort have been stellar, and already having a start often proves so beneficial for maiden runners. Take a shot on this colt who draws a good post position, and seems to possess some nice early speed that could help him secure a position up front.

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $75,000 Roar Stakes, 6:04 p.m. ET

#3 Garter and Tie: His last start in the Grade 1 Florida Derby was tricky, as the distance was certainly too long and he was forced really wide trying to make a move in deep stretch. Today he returns in a seven furlong sprint and takes an enormous drop in class completely out of the graded stakes ranks. I love seeing how he is raced back quickly only two weeks after the disappointing effort in the Florida Derby, and I think he rebounds in a big way.

Sports Pick of the Weekend

Saturday, April 20

NHL: Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators

PICK: Nashville Predators ML (Odds TBD): The Predators return home to try and take the series lead 3-2 with only two games remaining. This is a crucial game because game six will be away from home, and if it makes it to a game seven, the Predators will be playing on their home ice.

At home, the Predators have posted a 25-14-2 record in the regular season and need a big bounce back game after losing game 1 on their home ice, and after a humiliating 5-1 loss Wednesday night. Look for the Predators to take care of business Saturday and back them on the money line.

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