Best Bets: Aqueduct and Santa Anita Selections, Riding the Rockets


America’s Best Racing 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.

This Weekend’s Bets

Saturday, Feb. 22

Longshot Play

Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:20 p.m. EST

#2 Durkin’s Call: He’s raced well at Aqueduct with two victories, including his career-best speed figure (he’s matched that quite a few times) of 89. This gelding has dropped out of the stakes ranks to compete versus easier competition and has tried his luck at different distances. His best efforts have come from midpack, sitting just behind some of the speedier horses. He draws a good post to work out that ideal trip and should be a factor turning for home.

Best Bet

Aqueduct, Race 8, $100,000 Haynesfield Stakes, 4:50 p.m. ET

#1 Mr. Buff: Small field, yes, but this gelding looks like a very obvious single in your Pick 4 or Pick 5 wagers at Aqueduct on Saturday. He’s flaunted a ton of early speed and historically has been very difficult to track down late when able to rate well on the lead. He should be able to get things the way he wants on the front end with not a lot of early speed. The price will be short to bet him as a WIN candidate, but he definitely looks like a logical single in your exotics.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 5, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes, 5:30 p.m. ET

#4 Mucho Unusual: She’s proven capable of competing against stakes company and, when on her game, could definitely romp versus this field. However, her issue has been some wide trips, along with not firing up any type of rally late. She’s raced very well at Santa Anita throughout her short career, and I’m willing to take a shot that she might be sitting on a big effort after a few disappointing ones as of late.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 7:34 p.m. ET

#8 Much More Halo: This is a tricky field of maidens with many making their career debuts. Racing experience is invaluable, and I tend to favor this colt who already has three races worth of experience. He returns from a disappointing one-race foray on the dirt to try the turf again, and if he races anything like he did on Nov. 10, will almost surely be a major factor in here. Expect him to be put into play early from an outside post.

Favorite Sports Pick of the weekend

Saturday, Feb 22

NBA: Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz

PICK: Houston 1st half spread (Odds + number TBD): One of my favorites bets this season has been taking teams on the first-half spread or money line. The Rockets in particular have been my go-to team in that sense as they lead the NBA in first-half points per game, averaging more than 60 both at home and on the road. Saturday, they take on a Jazz team that has been the victim of slower starts all season, averaging only 54.3 first-half points per game. Expect the trend to continue, and take Houston to enter halftime with a lead.

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