Belle's Best Bets: Weekend Choices at Keeneland and Oaklawn

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, April 13

Longshot Play

Oaklawn Park, Race 5, 3:54 p.m. ET

#7 Indomitable Spirit: Out of the starters in this maiden special weight who have raced before, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of speed. In shorter races like this, held at six furlongs, speed is always a huge asset. This filly has put forth solid workouts, and debuts Saturday for a trainer in Wayne Catalano who wins at about 18% with first time starters. Hopefully she uses some of that speed she showed in workouts and is forwardly placed.

Best Bet

Keeneland, Race 7, $200,000 Ben Ali Stakes, 4:24 p.m. ET

#4 Flameaway: His experience versus graded stakes competition gives him a huge edge over most of the horses in this Grade 3 event, as he has done exceptionally well throughout his career. When on his game and racing his best is incredibly hard to beat, but unfortunately, consistency has been an issue. Look for this runner to be sharper making his third start off a lengthy layoff.

Longshot Play

Keeneland, Race 9, $200,000 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, 5:34 p.m. ET

#1 Shang: Speed-wise, he is a huge question mark as his career victories have come after setting the pace or working out stalking trips, so the times likely won’t be flashy or very quick. He draws another great post to work out a stalking trip similar to his efforts two and three starts back – both of them victories. The jump in class is logical, and there is something to be said about a horse that keeps finding the winner’s circle, despite racing against easier competition than he’ll face today.

Best Bet

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap, 6:22 p.m. ET

#6 Giant Expectations: His early speed is a huge asset as there aren’t many pace horses entered in this one. Getting a quick start and good jump out of the gate should help get him close to the front end early. Timing-wise, he has recorded some of the fastest efforts in this field, which bodes well if he is on the lead and rated well. Hopefully he is sharper Saturday than in his most recent start at Oaklawn.

Favorite Sports Pick of the Weekend

Sunday, April 14

National Basketball Association: Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers

PICK: Oklahoma City Thunder +4 (-130): The Blazers might be in some trouble this series versus a Thunder team entering hot, winning eight of their last 10 and sweeping the head-to-head with four wins over Portland. The Thunder have outscored the Blazers by an average of 124-115 by shooting just shy of 48 percent from the field over their last three.

Look for Oklahoma City to keep things close and continue their hot run. Wait until it’s closer to tip-off for better odds, but if betting early, buy the extra half-point and take Oklahoma City +4.

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