Welcome to Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners, the place to go for weekend best bets and spot plays from veteran handicapper and tournament-play pioneer Noel Michaels. Check back every week for a couple of highlighted selections designed to help you cash a few bets and make some money.
Noel's selections have been featured just about everywhere horse racing picks can be found, including in print in the Daily Racing Form, The HorsePlayer Magazine and American Turf Monthly, online at DRF.com, Twinspires.com and USRacing.com, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA's Talking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.
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Six Beginner Betting Tools
- Start simple with an easy guide for how to bet on horse racing.
- Not sure what that word means? Horse racing terminology is a language of its own. Allow us translate for you.
- What the heck is a speed figure? This beginner’s guide to speed figures has everything you need to know.
- Betting on horse racing can be intimidating. Team ABR put together some Dos and Don’ts for the new fan getting started betting on racing.
- We all make mistakes when it comes to betting on horse racing, here are eight lessons learned from experience.
- Figure out how much each bet will cost in advance with our Gambling Calculator, presented by NYRA Bets.
Saturday, Aug. 12
weekend Television schedule
Something about the idea of Arlington Million day at Colonial Downs just doesn’t sound quite right, yet here we are in 2023 and at least the Million still exists, along with both of its supporting featured races, the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares, and the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds. The three races that used to comprise the Arlington Festival of Racing will now be run at their third different venue in as many years, this time hundreds of miles east of their original Chicagoland locale in New Kent, Va., nearby the outskirts of Richmond. Wherever the races are run, the three stakes continue to draw top-quality fields, and if they continue to be anything like this year’s trio of races, it’s a good bet these stakes will thrive and survive long into the future. Let’s take a closer look at betting this year’s Beverly D. Stakes and Arlington Million from Colonial Downs. Best of luck and enjoy the races.
The Grade 1 Beverly D. has drawn a strong seven-horse field of fillies and mares set to go 1 3/16-miles on the grass. Trainer Chad Brown has been a big fan of this race down through the years at Arlington and his best contender this year is #6 Gina Romantica, who got good during the second half of the season last year and won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland to round out her 3-year-old season. After a layoff, Gina Romantica returned with a close-up, fourth-place finish in an outing the she had to need in the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park, which was won by her barn-mate Consumer Spending who has already come back to win the Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes. Now, Gina Romantica makes her second start off the layoff and is ready to strut her stuff as a 4-year-old. The mare she is going to have to beat is #1 Fev Rover, who beat 2022 Canadian Horse of the Year Moira two races ago in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine and then narrowly missed last time when third in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga Race Course against the likes of multiple Grade 1 winner In Italian. Saturday she steps into the spotlight as the horse with top billing in the Beverly D., and it would come as a surprise to no one if she took care of business. The third major contender in the race is #5 Didia, who exits a second-place finish in the Grade 1 New York Stakes at Belmont Park in a loss that ended a seven-race winning streak. She’s as consistent as they come, and she’s already 2-for-2 at Colonial Downs.
The Arlington Million has long been the summer’s premier turf stakes race run at 1 ¼ miles, which has become sort of a forgotten distance these days with many Grade 1 turfers diverging into shorter stakes in order to point for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF, or longer races in order to point to the 1 ½-mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Yes, there are still horses that would prefer to run smack-dab in the middle at 1 ¼ miles, and those horses usually find their way into the Million. Actually, it is the 1 ¼-mile distance that could be the key to handicapping the race. Who benefits from 1 ¼ miles and who doesn’t? The horse in the field who might be a bullseye at the distance is #8 Catnip, who exits a second-place finish in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park last time after getting the lead in the stretch in that 1 3/8-mile race. He probably would have won it at 1 ¼ miles. Catnip returns to Colonial Downs after breaking his maiden on this course last summer. If it is pace that makes the race today instead of distance, then that advantage could go in favor of #7 Strong Quality, who could be alone on the lead. He got the lead last time at 1 ¼ miles and couldn’t hold on late, but he went unnecessarily fast earlier in the race. If Javier Castellano can ration his speed better on the front end today, he could run on late to go wire-to-wire in this field that contains some tactical speed horses but no other legitimate front-runners. Finally, no Grade 1 turf race would be complete without a Chad Brown-trained contender, especially in these former Arlington stakes that Brown had always staunchly supported. Brown probably won’t send anything sub-par to these races, so even though #5 Rockemperor has not been in his best form lately, he is a Grade 1 winner that can be proficient at this distance and looms dangerous for the best turf barn in the land.