Belle’s Best Bets: Turf Longshots and Stakes Value Plays

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 27

Longshot Play

Belmont Park, Race 3, 2:34 p.m. ET

#7 Dr. Shane: Although consistency has been an issue, the efforts have been there. Most runners in here are entered with a claiming price tag, so it is intriguing to see him as one of only a few avoiding the tag. It will be tricky to win his first start off a four month layoff, but historically he has fared well coming back after a break. Look for him to be involved in the pace scenario early.

Best Bet

Woodbine, Race 8, $100,000 Woodstock Stakes, 4:56 p.m. ET

#7 Yes I Am Free: He is shipped to Woodbine off of some really quick times and two solid wins on the turf before running seventh in a Keeneland stakes race. Trainer Mark Casse has had a ton of success at Woodbine over the years and flaunts good numbers on horses making the move from turf to the all weather surface. It appears as this runner is here prepping for something bigger, so this looks like a good opportunity to take advantage of a weak field within the stakes ranks.

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 5:01 p.m. ET

#9 Holiday Stone: He takes a big drop in class today out of the graded stakes ranks and into an optional claiming race, and that should certainly be appreciated as he has struggled recently. The efforts have been inconsistent, and the speed figures have been generally poor with this horse – however, when he feels like running and is not put in too high racing classifications, some of his efforts have been surprising. Back this runner at double digit odds to potentially pull off the upset, or hit the board at a nice price.

Best Bet

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $150,000 Bachelor Stakes, 6:28 p.m. ET

#4 Nitrous: With so much speed entered and so many horses likely to be vying for the front end, a runner that thrives off a stalking trip or one with an off the pace style can have a huge advantage. This colt has shown a nice closing kick, but is often out a bit slow from the gate, taking a while to settle in. I think his racing style fits nicely with this field and he could pull off the minor upset at nice odds.

Favorite Sports Pick of the Weekend

Saturday, April 27

National Basketball Association: Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors

PICK: First quarter game total OVER 57 (Odds: -110): Saturday is a great day for sports as the NBA Conference semi-finals tip off, as well as games two in the NHL second round.

The 76ers have been the highest scoring first-quarter team in the Association averaging over 30 first-quarter points a game on the road. The last time these two teams met up, it was the Raptors starting quick with a 40-point first quarter. The Raptors have played their best basketball at home this season and should be feeling good off some big wins in the first round. Look for both teams offensively to be clicking early and back the first quarter game total Over.

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