Best Bets: Gulfstream Stakes Selections, Longshots at Aqueduct, Oaklawn

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, Dec. 18

Longshot Play

Aqueduct, Race 5, 2:11 p.m. ET

#5 Bench Walk: There are a few in here that may be a bit overbet based on their most recent starts. With 2-year-olds competing within the maiden ranks, I try to avoid judging or overvaluing one performance too harshly. Of course, we can see considerable improvement from one start to the next with adequate changes, or more experience, but sometimes based on workouts, pedigree, and trainer stats, you can find a lot of value to back to a runner in their first start.

His recent workouts have been solid and timing-wise he really looks quick. With a great draw in the center of the gate, I hope to see early speed out of this colt. He’s shown a lot more of it these past few months in the mornings.

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, 3:59 p.m. ET

#6 Fearless: He was the beaten favorite in his two most recent outings, but those were versus much tougher. His last outing was his first start in six months, so I would expect him even sharper with a start under his belt. Through four starts at Gulfstream Park, he’s been no worse than second and put forth his career best Brisnet Speed rating of 107 in his second start in Florida.

We’ve seen this colt produce victories off many different types of trips, and meeting a smaller field in here adds even more the appeal in case the break is slow once again. Either way, he’s going to be incredibly tough versus this group and the price should be very short at post. He’ll be a single for me across some of those multi-leg wagers as I search for value in some other races in the sequence.

Best Bet

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes, 4:32 p.m. ET

#2 L’Imperator: Although his victories haven’t been flashy and his margin of victory is often pretty close, this gelding has been racing extremely well since making the move overseas and landing in the Chad Brown barn. His best efforts have been off stalking trips and he’s looked strong down the lane when he’s found clear racing room.

The race once again could set up very well for him given the inside draw to work with and speed drawing on both sides of him. He should be positioned well with a good shot to track them down late.

Longshot Play

Oaklawn Park, Race 10, 5:40 p.m. ET

#11 Seven Flat: Speaking about considerable improvements from one start to the next, this colt was much better in his second career race while stretching out in distance and showing a bit more early speed. With an outside draw to navigate from, a quicker start will very likely be imperative to avoid traffic trouble down the lane.

Blinkers will be added which could be an important addition to ensure that early speed and he will also be making his first start racing on Lasix (furosemide). As long as he takes another step forward, he looks to be a major player and should offer a nice price at post.