Best Bets: Monmouth Focus for Haskell Card

Horses race into the stretch on the 2018 Haskell Invitational Stakes undercard. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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, July 18

Longshot Play

weekend TV schedule

Thursday, July 16: 1-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, July 17: 1-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, July 18: 1-7 p.m. ET on FS1; 5–6 p.m. ET on NBC; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, July 19: 1-6:30 p.m. ET on FS1 post time varies on TVG

Monmouth Park, Race 9, $150,000 WinStar Matchmaker, 4:06 p.m. ET

#1 Valedictorian: The 8-1 odds on the morning line make a play on this mare very enticing as we know if she’s on her game and racing well she is more than capable of pulling off the upset. She possesses a ton of versatility and that could come in super-handy for jockey Mike Smith, who takes over the riding duties today and could re-evaluate strategy based on how other horses break. I’m willing to take on a shot on this mare who is 12 of 34 in lifetime victories and a very impressive 4-for-5 at Monmouth Park.

Longshot Play

Monmouth Park, Race 11, 300,000 United Nations Stakes, 5:12 p.m. EST

#9 Paret: In his two most recent efforts, he flaunted a good bit of early speed. Drawing the outside in a field lacking a lot of gate speed could prove advantageous to this gelding, who may be the one on the front end dictating the tempo. Although his win last start came versus much easier, he makes the logical move up to try his luck versus graded stakes company. Although expecting a victory in this field is a little bit of a stretch, he has shown steady improvement and could be a major factor if put into play. I’ll be making a wager on this horse to hit the board at what should be close to double-digit odds at post.

Best Bet

Monmouth Park, Race 12, $1 million Haskell Stakes, 5:48 p.m. ET

#2 Authentic: Tasted defeat for the first time in his most recent effort finishing second best after pushing the pace early. With a lot of speed entered on Saturday, expect this colt to work out a stalking trip. He will be very difficult to beat if he is able to execute that type of a trip. Although the price will very likely be short and very close to the 4-5 morning line, getting Mike Smith on board is a huge asset and he clearly looks like the one to beat.

Best Bet

Monmouth Park, Race 14, $250,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes, 6:51 p.m. ET

#1 She’s a Julie: Comes in with a victory last month versus Grade 1 company after capitalizing on a perfect stalking trip. That was also her second start after more than seven months away from the track.  Saturday she draws the rail post and while it can be tricky, especially for a mare like her that does possess early speed, she’s not the type that needs the lead to win. Based on what we’ve seen in her most recent — a super-fast 1:40.27 time at 1 1/16 miles — along with the success she’s had in the graded stakes ranks, I think she looks like a standout among this field.

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