Best Bets: Withers Stakes Standout, Tampa Longshot

Racing at Aqueduct. (Joe Labozzetta/NYRA)

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, Feb. 6

Longshot Play

weekend Television schedule

Friday, Feb. 5: post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Feb.6: 2 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Feb. 7: post time varies on TVG

Fair Grounds, Race 3, 2:58 p.m. ET

#2 Offspring: This mare makes her return to the turf and also gets to shorten in distance after trying her luck route racing for most of 2020. All of her wins have come in races between 7 ½ furlongs (this race’s distance) and a mile, so it is a positive sign to see her racing shorter.

There isn’t a ton of early speed entered, and that could really work to this mare’s advantage if she chooses to utilize it. She’s won twice after getting to the early lead and controlling the pace, and is a threat to do it in this race.

Longshot Play

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 9, $150,000 Suncoast Stakes, 4:02 p.m. EST

#3 Jade Empress: This is a really tough group, many of which are lightly raced and trying their luck versus stakes company for the first time. I landed on this filly who is coming off an impressive victory in which she capitalized off a perfect stalking trip. She will also be stretching out in distance and trying her luck going longer for the first time and that could help boost her post-time odds. If she races anything like she did last time out, she looks like a very live longshot.

Best Bet

Aqueduct, Race 8, $250,000 Withers Stakes, 4:25 p.m. ET

#3 Capo Kane: He’s won two straight while showing early speed in both of those recent victories. He’s looked really good when getting to the front end, and it looks like he’ll be the one dictating the tempo once again on Saturday. If he’s able to rate well on the lead, he will be very tough down the lane and all signs point to him going wire-to-wire.

Odds-wise, others in here should take some betting support, so the price should be fair to take a shot on him to win, or to use on top of your exotics or multi-leg wagers.

Best Bet

Fair Grounds, Race 7, 4:54 p.m. ET

#5 Darain: He’s thrived racing longer overseas, so the about 1 1/8-mile distance will be no issue for this colt. Saturday, he makes his second start for new trainer Brad Cox who makes a change of equipment, removing blinkers. This has been a profitable angle for him in the past as he’s clicked at a 34 percent rate with a large enough sample size of 53.

Another thing to like is how quickly he’s coming back after a runner-up finish in mid-January. This is a good indicator of fitness, and I expect this colt to prove very tough versus this field – and the price should reflect that.

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