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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6 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, April 22
The Keeneland April meet is short and sweet, and we’ve already reached the final Saturday of the three-week season with a 10-race card on Saturday, April 22. A Saturday at Keeneland just wouldn’t be a Saturday at Keeneland without some stakes action, and included on this Saturday’s program are a pair of long-distance stakes races with big purses, the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes on the turf and the Grade 3 Bel Ali Stakes on the dirt. Both drew quality fields and offer good wagering opportunities if you can come up with the right horses. Best of luck.
weekend Television schedule
The Elkhorn is Keeneland’s April long-distance feature for older horses going 1 ½ miles on the turf and this year’s race has drawn a 10-horse field containing many of the top horses in the division domestically. While the field is mostly made up of veterans including last year’s 1-2 finishers #1 Channel Maker and #4 Another Mystery, there is one very interesting newcomer in the bunch and that’s #7 Howe Street, who comes in off back-to-back turf wins at the recently concluded Champions meet at Gulfstream Park. What he lacks in experience he appears to more than make up for in talent and, if you watched his winning races this winter, you probably will be willing to bet he can step up into stakes successfully in a spot like this. The more distance, the better. A staple of these races the past few years has been #5 Red Knight, who is a hit-or-miss proposition who lately has hit in three of his last five races, including 1 ½-mile stakes wins at Colonial Downs, Kentucky Downs, and Gulfstream, where last time he made a last-to-first move to win impressively in the Grade 3 William L. McKnight Stakes Presented by Davidoff Cigars over #2 Value Engineering. The latter has been no worse than second in three good recent races since going to the barn of Mike Maker, including a pair of wins at 1 3/8 miles. Finally, the aforementioned Another Mystery has a tough time beating Red Knight, but he’s run some big 1 ½-mile turf efforts the last year and belongs on your tickets.
The Play: Bet #7 Howe Street (10-1) to win and structure your exotics for good scores if Howe Street finishes first or second. Play Howe Street as a key horse in exacta boxes with #2 Value Engineering (7-2), #4 Another Mystery (15-1), and #5 Red Knight (5-2). Also play Howe Street as a key horse in trifectas over Value Engineering, Another Mystery, and Red Knight in the second and third spots.
The Ben Ali for older horses going 1 3/16 miles on Keeneland’s main track drew a field of seven and it’s possible to make a case for all seven, which is the hallmark of a good betting race. Pace could end up making the race in the Ben Ali, because while there are some horses with tactical speed in the field, there really isn’t any legitimate speed in the race. If the pace is mediocre, it will hurt the chances of deep closers like #5 Rattle N Roll, #6 Happy American, and #7 Tawny Port. The horse to beat will be #4 Skippylongstocking, who has enjoyed a good start to his 4-year-old season with wins in two of his three recent outings in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream and last time out in the Grade 3 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The lone recent defeat was in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes presented by Baccarat. Skippylongstocking can stay close enough to the pace in this spot, he's in good form, and he has the stamina to go the distance. Another horse who should have a similar stalking position in this field is #1 Pioneer of Medina, who won the Grade 3 Mineshaft Stakes Presented by Relyne GI By Hagyard at Fair Grounds two races ago. #2 Trademark tried to go to the lead last time in the Challenger Stakes and it didn’t work out, but the strategy could pay off much better in this spot with a slower pace. He won impressively on this Keeneland main track going 1 1/8 miles last October. As a pace play, also throw-in #3 Call Me Fast into your trifectas. He'll be the likely pacesetter.
The Play: Bet #4 Skippylongstocking (7-5) to win and key him on top of three horses in the trifectas using #1 Pioneer of Medina (7-2), #2 Trademark (6-1), and #3 Call Me Fast (20-1).