Best Bets: Ohio Derby Play, Pair of Churchill Longshots

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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, June 27

Longshot Play

weekend Television schedule

Thursday, June 25: 1-6 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, June 26: 1-6 p.m. ET on FS2; 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, June 27: 1-3 p.m. ET on FS2; 3-6:30 p.m. ET on FS1; 5-6 p.m. ET on NBC; 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, June 28: 1-6 p.m. ET on FS2; 4-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Churchill Downs, Race 5, 3:10 p.m. EST

#2 Pit Boss: Through two starts, we have seen two different styles – a closing effort in his first race, and in his most recent he broke a lot more alertly in an attempt to be forwardly placed.

There is a clear lack of early speed in this field, and if he’s to make the lead this runner could be a major factor. He showed quite a bit of improvement in terms of fractional times in his second start, and if he’s able to rate on the front end, I like his chances to have a lot left to pull away late.

Longshot Play

Thistledown, Race 8, $500,000 Ohio Derby, 4:22 p.m. ET

#10 South Bend: There’s a wide-open and full field for this graded stakes event which should make for a really competitive contest. I landed on this colt, who makes his return to the dirt after trying his luck versus mostly stakes competition racing over the turf.

One downside in backing this longshot has been his slower than ideal starts, especially recently. Usually, those early problems put a racehorse at the mercy of the pace. But luckily, a fast pace might be exactly what we see on Saturday with quite a bit of early speed and horses likely vying for the lead, which could help set him up well.

Best Bet

Belmont Park, Race 7, $100,000 Vagrancy Handicap, 4:32 p.m. ET

#3 Chalon: She has not raced in over eight months, but taking long hiatuses away from the track has been a recurring trend with this mare. In her prior breaks, she has been ready to fire coming off the bench. The same goes for her trainer Arnaud Delacour, who is clicking at a 27 percent rate when coming back from 90+ days away.

Look for this mare to attempt to work out a stalking trip behind some of the early speed.  If she’s able to do that, she’s going to be tough to fend off late.

Longshot Play

Churchill Downs, Race 11, $100,000 Regret Stakes, 6:20 p.m. ET

#4 In Good Spirits: This filly might be worth taking a shot on based on her front-running style and early gate speed. She’s gotten out to very quick starts in all of her prior efforts, and pending a good break she will surely be out on the front end controlling the tempo.

She’s been able to carry her speed a very long way in the past, and if she’s able to settle in and get away with ideal fractions, she could be very difficult to pass late. I like her chances in here today, and expect her to be even sharper in her second start off the seven-month layoff.

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