Best Bets: Belmont and Woody Stephens Picks Plus a Pair from Churchill

Horses wheel into the stretch of the 2019 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, won by Mitole (middle, white jockey cap). (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, June 5

Best Bet

weekend Television schedule

Friday, June 4: 12:30 p.m.-5 p.m. ET and 6 p.m.-7 p.m. on FS2; 5 p.m.-6 p.m. on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, June 5: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.-8:15 p.m. on FS2; 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on NBCSN; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on NBC; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, June 6: 12:30 p.m.-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Belmont Park, Race 3, $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, 12:47 p.m. ET

#3 Jackie’s Warrior: He was able to fend off some late challengers in the Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU in his most recent start. This time around, he cuts back to seven furlongs after a few tries racing longer and will be very tough at this distance in a smaller field and a race with not a ton of early speed.

He’s looked great when he’s able to get things his own way on the lead and has really impressed versus much tougher. The price will be short at post, but he looks like a very logical single in all of your multileg wagers.

Best Bet

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 p.m. EST

#9 Social Dilemma: She missed in her two tries on turf coming up a combined less than two lengths shy in those efforts. She gets another try racing on grass and this time around she gets an added sixteenth of a mile which could help this filly overcome the outside draw.

I hope she isn’t forced to race too wide and jockey Colby Hernandez puts her in a position to have some clear running room late. If she manages to avoid traffic trouble, I think she runs by them all late.

Longshot Play

Churchill Downs, Race 11, $110,000 Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes, 5:58 p.m. ET

#6 The Connector: He saved some ground early on in his most recent sprinting effort at Pimlico, but gapped the field. Before making a stretch run, he angled outside and never gained any ground, finishing a disappointing sixth. He seemed to lack interest in that effort which is uncharacteristic for this gelding who usually has a lot left in the tank late.

His best races have been working out stalking trips, and with a good post draw on Saturday he should be positioned just behind the pacesetters early on. I think he’s very capable of pulling off the double-digit upset against this wide-open field.

Best Bet

Belmont Park, Race 11, $1,500,000 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, 6:49 p.m. ET

#7 Rock Your World: We all know about the terrible start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve where this colt broke from the gate super slow and was never a factor. This time around he meets a much smaller field in the Belmont Stakes and hopefully is able to show off that early foot we have seen in his prior three victories. In a field like this lacking early speed, being forwardly placed is a big asset and I think if he’s able to control the pace without getting pressed too hard, I think he will be very difficult to track down late.

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