Best Horse Racing Bets for Saturday, May 8, 2021

| May 8, 2021 1:32 am PDT

I’ve expanded my picks for Saturday because Belmont Park is running five graded stakes races, and I didn’t want to give any of them short shrift. So, I’ve got picks for all five stakes runs at Belmont, plus three solid picks for Churchill Downs (including their single stakes run of the day).

I even found a stakes run at Santa Anita Park to include among my picks for that track.

Good luck!

My Top Picks at Belmont Park

As I mentioned, I’ve got picks for the five stakes races running at Belmont Park on Saturday.

First up is race four—the Runhappy Stakes (Grade III)—a six-furlong main track run for four-year-olds and upward. My pick here is the 4/5 morning-line favorite, Firenze Fire.

This six-year-old has done nothing but stakes races since he broke his maiden back in 2017 at Monmouth Park. He even won the Runhappy Stakes in 2019, back when it was still a Listed stakes race. While the second-favored Chateau might give him a run for his money, I believe Firenze Fire will prevail.

Firenze Fire moneyed 19 of his 31 career starts, winning 12—of which, one his maiden was not a stakes race. Trainer Kelly Breen has tapped Irad Ortiz, Jr. to ride Firenze Fire for this run.

In race six—the Beaugay Stakes Grade III)—I’m betting on the fourth-favored Nay Lady Nay to win this 1-1/16 mile turf run for fillies and mares.

Nay Lady Nay finished in the money for seven of her ten career starts and won five of them, four of which were stakes victories. Additionally, she’s showed better and more consistent triple-digit speed figures than her competition.

Plenty of world-class jockeys have ridden Nay Lady Nay to victory, but trainer Chad Brown has selected Javier Castellano for this run.

Race seven—the Vagrancy Handicap (Grade III)—returns us to the main track for a 6-1/2 furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

I’m betting on the second-favored (at 3/1) entry—Honor Way.

Jose L. Ortiz will be aboard this Charlton Baker-trained seven-year-old mare for the run.

For the record, Honor Way has the best overall stats in this seven-horse field: 29 money finishes in 42 career starts, 13 of them wins.

Race nine—the Peter Pan Stakes—is a 1-1/8 mile main track run for three-year-olds. I like the second-favored (at 5/2) Nova Rags, ridden by Junior Alvarado for veteran trainer Bill Mott.

This colt moneyed three of his five career starts, winning two—his first maiden last October and the Pasco Stakes (Black Type) at Tampa Bay Downs in January.

In race ten—the Man o’ War Stakes (Grade I)—I’m betting all two of my dollars on the second-favored (at 2/1) entry here: Gufo, a four-year-old colt with the best record in this eight-horse field.

Gufo has moneyed every one of his eight career starts and has won five of them, from his maiden run to the Kent Stakes (Grade III) last July at Delaware Park.

For this 1-3/8 mile turf run for four-year-olds and upward, veteran trainer Christophe Clement (who’s won more graded stakes races than you can count) has chosen top jockey Joel Rosario, to fill the irons.

Best Bets for Churchill Downs

In race seven—a seven-furlong main track run for fillies and mares four years old and up—my money is on the third-favored (3/1) entry, Avie’s Samurai, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione.

At first glance, her record doesn’t look quite as good as the top-two morning line faves, but quick glances often don’t take in the whole picture.

This four-year-old filly moneyed eight of her 13 career starts, winning three, but these weren’t mostly allowance and claiming races with a stakes race or two thrown in. Trainer Josie Carroll virtually filled the filly’s dance card with stakes matches—eight tough races—and Avie’s Samurai moneyed four of those.

For race nine, I’m going with the 6/5 morning-line favorite, Crystal Ball. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden this race by Florent Geroux, this filly moneyed four of her five career starts, winning two.

Steve Asmussen has two horses in this 1-1/16 mile main track run for fillies and mares, but they are both at much longer odds—as are the rest of this 10-horse field.

In race ten—the Mamzelle Overnight Stakes (Listed)—I’m going with one of the three horses trainer Wesley Ward has in this race: Wink, the 3/1 morning line favorite.

Ridden by James Graham for this five-furlong turf run for three-year-old fillies, Wink moneyed all four of her career starts, winning three of them—her maiden, the Colleen Stakes (Black Type) at Monmouth Park last August, and the Melody of Colors Stakes (Black Type) at Gulfstream Park in March 2021.

Her single second-place was in the Prix d’Arenberg (Grade III) at Longchamp in Paris last September.

Picks for Races at Santa Anita Park

Race 4 is a seven-furlong main track run for fillies and mares, and in this short field of five, I’m going with the third-favored (at 3/1) entry: Miss Fia, ridden by Jessica Pyfer.

The David E. Hofmans-trained Miss Fia moneyed eight of her nine career starts, winning three. Additionally, the four-year-old mare has better recent speed figures than her competition. Plus, I like Pyfer’s five-pound apprentice allowance.

In race five—a 1-1/8 mile turf run for fillies and mares four years old and up—I’m betting on the third-favored (at 3/1) Sapphire Kid.

This six-year-old mare moneyed 13 of her 31 career starts, winning six.

That might not seem impressive until you notice the morning line favorite’s career record is four money finishes out of seven starts, with one win.

Better, yes, but not at a large scale.

Veteran trainer Steve Knapp (who’s having a good year) has tapped Tiago Josue Pereira to ride for this run. Pereira has been aboard Sapphire Kid for her three most recent wins.

For race seven—the Santa Barbara Stakes (Grade III)—I’m buying a win ticket on the 9/5 morning line favorite, Tapwater.

The five-year-old mare finished in the money five of her nine career starts, winning three of them. Her speed figures have been consistently high throughout her career.

Hall of fame trainer Richard E. Mandella has tagged top jockey Flavien Prat to ride Tapwater for this 1-1/2 mile turf run for fillies and mares.

J.W. Paine
J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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