Belle’s Best Bets: Three Intriguing Longshots, NBA Play

Fans at Tampa Bay Downs celebrate 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 last April.

This Weekend’s Bets

Saturday, Feb. 9

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 5, 1:57 p.m. ET

#5 Heroic Activist: He already has three career starts under his belt, and what bodes well is that his best effort came in his most recent race when cutting back to a sprint distance and finally getting to race on firm footing. This time he won't be hindered by the extreme outside post, and his racing experience could prove invaluable today with several runners trying their luck in a race for the first time.

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 11, El Prado Stakes, 5:12 p.m. ET

#3 Vici: I like how he draws an inside post. That could prove very advantageous racing against such a large field. He takes a drop out of the graded stakes ranks to face off against easier, and there isn’t much that separates him from the shorter-priced horses. Look for him to take advantage of drawing well and try to execute a win by sitting just off the pace.

Longshot Play

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 11, Sam F. Davis Stakes, 5:25 p.m. ET

#10 Still Dreaming: His last effort was super impressive and he seemed to pull away with ease to a three-length victory under a hand ride. He is very lightly raced with only two career starts, but there seems to be a lot of potential. He takes an enormous jump up to try graded stakes competition off of just a maiden victory, but all signs indicate he might be special. I’ll take a shot at a good price.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 11, 7:30 p.m. ET

#5 Scarlet Heat: She was heavily bet in her racing debut, and I completely see why. A lot of her workouts showed nice speed, and pedigree-wise she looks well-suited to this distance. Hopefully, she has a little bit cleaner of a stretch run and isn’t forced so wide. She showed she can handle the downhill turf sprint, and draws an interesting post which could help set up a nice, late run.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Saturday, Feb. 9

National Basketball Association: San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz

PICK: First half total UNDER: Early starts across the NBA can often result in some lackadaisical play, so it is not uncommon to see lower totals in these games. Both the Spurs and Jazz rank toward the middle in first-half points per game, with San Antonio averaging 53.6 on the road, and Utah with 53.8. Defensively, both teams rank in the top 10 in opponent first-half points per game, and with the West as wide open and competitive as it is, this game is an important one for both squads. Look for the game to be low scoring early on.

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