Best Bets: Focus on Oaklawn with Four Stakes Picks

Multiple graded stakes winner Envoutante, shown training at Oaklawn Park this week, is one of Monique Vag’s top plays for a stacked Saturday of racing at the Hot Springs, Ark., track. (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, March 13

Best Bet

weekend Television schedule

Friday, March 12: post time varies on TVG

Saturday, March 13: 2 p.m.-3 p.m. ET on FS1; 3 p.m.-6 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, March 14: 1:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Oaklawn Park, Race 5, $350,000 Azeri Stakes, 3:03 p.m. ET

#1 Envoutante: She showed early speed in her most recent race back in November and was able to wire the group easily. That was her first start in two months, so taking more than three months off track prior to her 2021 debut is not a cause of concern. Although most of her victories have come on the front end, she’s a very versatile filly and could be dangerous off many different types of trips.

Despite the small field size, there is a some speed entered with horses that look likely to be vying for the early lead. If that’s the case, then look for this filly to be not too far off the pace, hopefully saving some ground on the rail in order to make a late stretch bid.

Best Bet

Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $500,000 Essex Handicap, 4:08 p.m. ET

#4 Tax: He drops in class today and meets an overall easier field than he was up against in his most recent start, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Look for this gelding to show some early speed and be the one setting the pace. He’s gone a perfect 2-for-2 throughout his career racing at this mile and a sixteenth distance, with his most recent score coming handily in gate-to-wire fashion. With an aggressive ride, he will be very tough to beat versus this group especially if he’s able to control the tempo on the front end.

Longshot Play

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes, 5:13 p.m. ET

#6 Treasure Trove: I’m taking a shot on this gelding who just missed in his most recent effort, beaten less than a length when trying to sneak up the rail late in a one-mile race. Saturday he gets to stretch out in distance to 1 ½ miles, and seeing how good he’s looked racing longer (particularly on the dirt), I think this could actually play to his advantage.

He gets Florent Geroux on board and gets to make his third start for trainer Michael Maker. He’s already put forth some solid efforts showing off a late closing kick, and if he can sit off the pace early, he could be in a good spot to do it again.

Longshot Play

Oaklawn Park, Race 11, $1,000,000 Rebel Stakes, 6:16 p.m. EST

#8 Super Stock: Looking at these young and lightly raced horses, I find that it’s important not to put too much weight to one race in particular, whether it is overvaluing an effort or judging too harshly. That’s the reason I’m looking for a little bit of a price in this stakes contest.

Timing-wise, this colt has already proven he can keep up and match up well versus graded stakes company. He’s also looked much better stretching out in distance and trying his luck routing. If he goes off anywhere near or above his morning-line odds, he’s worth a play against the shorter priced favorites.

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