Best Bets: Turf Selections on Both Coasts

Turf racing during Gulfstream Park’s 2020-21 Championship Meet. (Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photo)

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.

Saturday, Jan. 2

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 4, $75,000 Dania Beach Stakes, 1:35 p.m. EST

#1 Fighting Force: He looked so impressive in his maiden-breaking score last time out stretching out to race at a route distance. He was able to capitalize off a perfect stalking trip and should be able to work out a similar trip from the rail post in Saturday’s outing.

Although he faces off against winners for the first time in his career, he’s coming off a dominant performance last time out and is very capable of doubling up.

Longshot Play

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $75,000 Ginger Brew Stakes, 4:13 p.m. ET

#4 Inthewinnerscircle: She tried her luck versus stakes company in her most recent start and had difficulty after breaking from the gate a little slow. Despite the less than ideal start, she was able to rally late and get up in time.

Saturday, she draws a much better post to work with and should be positioned much closer this time around. Although there are concerns about how this filly stacks up speed-figure wise versus the rest of the field, there looks to be more than enough speed in this race that could help set her up well for another rallying effort.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 5, 5:35 p.m. ET

#8 Avisse: Her racing experience could really come in handy versus a group of mostly first-time starters. She gets to try her luck at the shorter sprinting distance today and shortening in distance has been a profitable angle for trainer Doug O’Neil who is clicking at a 21% rate on horses going from route to sprint.

Along with the cutback in distance, she gets a better post position than her last start, and looks like a major player if she shows off that early speed once again.

Longshot Play

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 7:35 p.m. ET

#1 El Tigre Terrible: He got out to a slower than ideal start in his most recent try on the turf versus stakes company – two starts back – and couldn’t rally late. Saturday he returns to racing on the turf after a fifth-place finish on dirt and shortens in distance. The last few tries he’s had on the turf have been versus stakes company, so meeting an overall easier field in his turf return adds to the appeal.

This gelding is capable of winning off many different types of trips, although it looks like his best shot at landing in the winner’s circle will be to use some early speed.

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