Best Bets: Stakes Focus at Keeneland, Oaklawn, Santa Anita

Tide of the Sea, in the turquoise blinkers, is one of the horses Monique likes this Saturday. (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, April 17

Longshot Play

weekend Television schedule

Friday, April 16: 1 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, April 17: 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, April 18: 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. on FS2; 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS1; 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:18 p.m. ET

#7 Billy Yank: He should be a big price in here, but I thought he raced well albeit against much easier in his most recent start finishing second beaten under two lengths in an effort trying blinkers for the first time.

Saturday, he gets to make his second try racing over the dirt surface in his debut for new trainer Joseph Orseno. In terms of speed figures, his effort in this first dirt try fits in with this group, and if he’s able to execute a stalking trip similar to his most recent, he could blow-up the toteboard at big odds.

Best Bet

Keeneland, Race 9, $200,000 Elkhorn Stakes, 5:30 p.m. ET

#6 Tide of the Sea: His most recent try at this distance of a mile and a half was two starts ago versus Grade 3 company. In that effort he went to the front end and was able to fend off some late closers to secure the victory. This time around, there once again doesn’t appear to be a ton of early speed which should have this horse positioned well, likely on the front end. If he’s able to get any type of a breather, or remain unpressured on the lead, he’s going to be very tough to pass late.

Longshot Play

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $1,000,000 Oaklawn Handicap, 5:49 p.m. ET

#4 Warrior’s Charge: He’s had a lot of success at Oaklawn Park hitting the top three in all seven of his career starts here. His asset is early speed, and although it’s been a while since he’s carried his speed the whole way, pending a clean break we know exactly where this horse is going to be positioned. There isn’t a ton of other speed in here which really could help set this horse up well.

Although he disappointed in his most recent start as a short-priced favorite, that was his first start in six months. Expect him to be much sharper on Saturday.

Best Bet

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, $200,000 Californian Stakes, 7:51 p.m. ET

#3 Country Grammer: It’s been over eight months since this colt has had a parimutuel race. His most recent outing was in the Runhappy Travers Stakes for old trainer Chad Brown. Since that effort where he faded late, he makes the move to new trainer Bob Baffert who is adding blinkers for the first time. That has historically been a very profitable angle for Baffert as he clicks at a 33 percent rate with the equipment addition. Distance should not be an issue for this colt as he has thrived going longer and looks like a major player despite the time away.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!