Noel’s Weekend Winners: Betting a Bounce-Back Candidate in New York

Belmont at the Big A Runhappy Stakes Peter Pan Stakes gambling handicapping horseplayer Deterministic The Wine Steward Ninetyprcentmaddie Joey Freshwater Irad Ortiz Linda Rice Straight No Chaser jockey trainer layoff horse racing
Waving a horse to the wire with winning tickets in New York. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

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, and, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA's SatuTalking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.

Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners is brought to you by, the official online qualifying site of the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) and National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). offers low-cost feeders every day and BCBC and NHC qualifiers every weekend, and it’s the only site where you can qualify for the $1.25 million BCBC. It’s free to sign up – click here to get information about registering and how to enter contests.

Six Beginner Betting Tools

  1. Start simple with an easy guide for how to bet on horse racing.
  2. Not sure what that word means? Horse racing terminology is a language of its own. Allow us translate for you
  3. What the heck is a speed figure? This beginner’s guide to speed figures has everything you need to know.
  4. 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.
  5. We all make mistakes when it comes to betting on horse racing, here are eight lessons learned from experience.
  6. Figure out how much each bet will cost in advance with our Gambling Calculator, presented by NYRA Bets.

The Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is in the rear-view mirror, and we take a one-week Triple Crown hiatus this Saturday before heading to Pimlico for next weekend’s Preakness Stakes. This weekend’s headline stakes action is at Belmont at the Big A, including a feature race with Triple Crown implications, the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes, which often serves as a prep for the upcoming Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets.

It would not be a surprise to see at least a couple of Saturday’s top Peter Pan finishers proceed toward the Belmont Stakes based on the results of the race. Elsewhere in the Saturday Belmont at the Big A card, for this weekend’s winners will take a closer look at the Grade 3 Runhappy Stakes, where sprinters will take center stage. These are just two of four graded stakes on the Saturday program in New York. Best of luck this Saturday and enjoy the races.

Saturday, May 11

Belmont at the Big A, Race 4, $175,000 Runhappy Stakes, post time 2:06 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Friday, May 10: 2-3 p.m. and 5-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday, May 11: 12:30-4 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Sunday, May 12: 12:30-1:30 p.m. on FS1; 1:30-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday’s six-furlong Runhappy Stakes has drawn a six-horse field and is being included in this weekend’s winners because it presents an opportunity to try to knock off an even-money favorite. If you go back in the time machine to this time last year, one of the more exciting horses around was #1 Straight No Chaser, who briefly looked like one of the country’s best sprinters based on scintillating back-to-back wins, each of them by over seven lengths and with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, including in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico. Unfortunately, the Maryland Sprint Stakes was the last we saw of Straight No Chaser and the Runhappy marks his first reappearance off what has become nearly a year away from racing. It might be a little unrealistic to expect him to return to the form we last saw him in right off the bat. It’s a tall order at a short price. Let’s beat the favorite with #6 Joey Freshwater, who has won two of his three recent races and is coming off a dynamite victory at this track and distance last time out for leading local trainer Linda Rice. The other main contender is #4 Ninetyprcentmaddie, who unlike Straight No Chaser has already gotten his return from the layoff under his belt and now should be ready for a big effort after finishing second in a $100,000 Pennsylvania-bred stakes at Parx. If he was “ninety percent Maddie” last time, he should be “one hundred percent Maddie” today in the second off the layoff with Irad Ortiz Jr. picking up the mount. Ninetyprcentmaddie made a trip to this track last fall for the $116,000 Carle Place Stakes with Irad aboard and emerged victorious.

The Play: Bet to win on #4 Ninetyprcentmaddie (8-1) and play an exacta box with #6 Joey Freshwater (9-5).

Belmont at the Big A, Race 6, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes, post time 3:08 p.m. ET

The Peter Pan Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles has drawn a field of eight and six of them are likely to run. The pick is #7 Deterministic, who looked very promising when winning the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes going a mile on this track back in March, when he beat Just a Touch by two lengths. Just a Touch returned to run second behind Sierra Leone in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in his next outing. Deterministic, meanwhile, went to the Wood Memorial Presented by Resorts World Casino and threw in a clunker and then skipped the Kentucky Derby to point directly to this spot in a realistic rebound attempt for locally based trainer Christophe Clement. Based on a repeat of his Gotham effort, he’d be the horse to beat. The other major contender in the Peter Pan is #3 The Wine Steward, who has been good in both career route races to date, including a second in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeder’s Futurity last fall and in his return from a layoff this spring when second in the Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes behind Encino. The Wine Steward is extremely dangerous if able to show improvement and move forward here in this second start back from the layoff.

The Play:  Bet #7 Deterministic (5-1) to win and box him in the exacta with #3 The Wine Steward (5-2).

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