Best Bets: Churchill and Santa Anita Saturday Plays

Horses race on the turf course at Churchill Downs. (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 May 29th

Best Bet

Churchill Downs, Race 1, 12:45 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Thursday, May 27: 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, May 28: 12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, May 29: 12:30 p.m.-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, May 30: 4 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Monday, May 31: 12:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

#6 Nineties Country: He’s set to make his parimutuel debut off some good looking works since April. He debuts in a winnable spot with only a few other runners already having the advantage of a few races under their belt.

Trainer Brad Cox has had a lot of success within the maiden special weight ranks clicking at a 25 percent rate through a big sample size. He should offer a fair price somewhere close to the 4-1 morning line at post.

Best Bet

Churchill Downs, Race 5, $150,000 Audubon Stakes, 2:45 p.m. ET

#2 Like the King: His lone turf try was a dominant score versus maiden runners getting to the front end and controlling the pace from there. He won by over seven and a half lengths, and timing wise, looked good doing so. Since then he’s tried his luck on the all-weather surface and most recently the dirt but today he gets to make that return to turf racing a surface he seems much better suited on.

Also hoping he is a lot closer this time around. This colt is capable of showing early speed and in a smaller field today, if he can utilize it and control the pace, he will be difficult to track down late.

Longshot Play

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

#5 Pioneer Spirit: Taking a flier on this horse who makes the move to a new barn and gets to try his luck on the turf for the first time in years where he does have two victories to his name. Most recently we’ve seen a lot of early speed out of this runner. Unfortunately he has tired late in two of those three recent efforts, however the change of surface and move to a new barn could help to spark a big effort.

I know if he brings his “A” game he is capable of pulling off the upset, and I think at a big price, he’s worthy of a much closer look.

Longshot Play

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 8:26 p.m. ET

#6 Dicey Mo Chara: Made his North American debut last start and got out to a very slow start spotting the field as many as 22 lengths early. In that effort, he rallied and passed tired horses late, but was never a factor. Blinkers will be added for today’s start which could really help keep this horse focused and help with a much cleaner, faster break from the gate.

Getting an extra eighth of a mile also adds to the appeal in case the start is slow once again. Look for him rallying late.

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