Best Horse Racing Bets for Wednesday, August 18, 2021

| August 17, 2021 6:36 pm PDT

If you like to bet the underdogs, I got a great set of Wednesday picks for you. I found second, third, and fourth-favored entries at virtually all the races I assessed at Penn National Race Course, Saratoga Downs, and Thistledown Racino.

That said, I won’t hold you up from getting to all of that good news, but don’t forget that our top horseracing wagering sites have the full race cards and all the info for all three tracks.

Good luck!

Wednesday’s Picks for Penn National Race Course

We’re on the turf course for race two, a five-furlong claiming race for three-year-olds and upward. There’s not a huge amount of talent apparent in this 12-horse field, but I do see some promise in the 8/1 fourth-favored Coos Bay, ridden by Tyler Conner.

This three-year-old gelding moneyed one of his two career starts with a win in his second maiden attempt.

That is only impressive when compared to the records of his competitors in this race. The morning-line favorite, for example, only managed to money two of his six starts, posting a single win.

Cody Beattie trains Coos Bay for owner-breeder Susan B. Thayer.

We’re still on the grass for race three, a 1-1/6 miles claiming race for three-year-olds and upward. My win ticket is on the fourth-favored Midnight Hauler, with Inoel Beato in the irons.

This five-year-old gelding moneyed four of his eight career starts, winning two, which gives him the best record in this 12-horse field.

Top-ranked T. Bernard Houghton trains Midnight Hauler for Sylmar Farm.

Race five puts us back on the main track for a1-1/16 miles allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds and upward. I like the 2/1 morning-line favorite, Halite, piloted by top jockey Jaime Rodriguez.

This six-year-old gelding moneyed 18 of his 26 career starts, winning seven, including three of his most recent four starts.

A standout in his profession since 2007, Jamie Ness trains Halite for owners Morris E. Kernan, Jr., Yo Berbs, and Jagger Inc. Ness also tapped Rodriguez to saddle Halite for his most recent win at Penn National.

My Wednesday Picks for Saratoga Downs

For a change of pace, race one at Saratoga puts us on grass for the Jonathan Sheppard Handicap (Grade I), a $150,000 purse, 2-3/8 miles hurdle handicap for four-year-olds, and upward. My bet is on the morning-line favorite, The Mean Queen, ridden by Thomas Garner.

This five-year-old mare moneyed five of her six career starts, winning four, including the Margaret Currey Henley Hurdle Stakes in June at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

Last month she was on course to win the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes (just as I predicted). Still, after the Irish import had worked her way from third to first position in the final stretch, she was asked to make an abrupt correction, and her rider lost contact and was thrown near the 16th marker, resulting in a DNF.

Keri Brion trains The Mean Queen for Buttonwood Farm. She’s put Garner in the irons for all three of The Mean Queen’s US races.

Race eight is a one-mile claiming race on the turf course for three-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the third-favored (at 9/2) Taos, ridden by Luis Saenz.

This race is dominated by horses campaigned at the stakes level being ridden by top jockeys, and Taos is the exception—at least as far as the stakes-level campaigning is concerned. The five-year-old gelding moneyed five of his eleven career starts, winning three.

What makes him competitive here is that all of his starts have been in 2021, whereas many of his competitors—which the morning line thinks have a better chance—haven’t won a race in two years. The M/L favorite, for example, hasn’t even moneyed a race since July 2020.

Ranked among the top 100 for earnings for the past five years, Danny Gargan trains Taos for JKX Racing.

Race nine is the Bolton Landing Stakes, a $120,000 purse, 5-1/2 furlong turf run for two-year-old fillies. If Tyler Gaffalione rides the also-eligible/MTO Averly Jane into the starting gate, then bet them to win.

This filly won both of her career starts, including her maiden at Keeneland and the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (Black Type) at Churchill Downs in April. She’s trained by Wesley A. Ward for Hat Creek Racing.

If Averly Jane doesn’t make it into this race, then bet the 5/2 turf favorite, Poppy Flower, piloted by Jose L. Ortiz.

This filly moneyed all three of her career starts, placing second in her first two maiden attempts and winning her third. Wesley Ward, who has four horses in this race, trains Poppy Flower for Arnmore Thoroughbreds, LLC.

Wednesday Picks for Thistledown Racino

We’re on the main track for race two, a 5-1/2 furlong claiming run for Ohio-bred fillies and mares three years old and upward. This looks to be a fairly tight race, and my pick out of this seven-horse field is the second-favored (at 7/2) My Belle Michelle, ridden by Christian P. Pilares.

This seven-year-old mare finished in the money 19 of her 38 career starts, winning eight, giving her a slight edge over the morning-line favorite.

Robert M. Gorham, who’s been ranked among the top 100 in his profession in wins, earnings, or both every year since 2002, trains My Belle Michelle for Mast Thoroughbreds LLC. Gorham has tapped Pilares to saddle My Belle Michelle for her latest seven victories.

Race five is a one-mile allowance race on the main track for three-year-olds and upward. My money’s on the 4/1 fourth-favored entry, Vigo, with veteran jockey Ricardo Feliciano in the irons.

This three-year-old gelding moneyed five of his seven career starts, winning two, which puts him in the statistical lead among this competitive six-horse field.

Maria Bowersock trains Vigo for Volar Corporation.

For race seven—a one-mile allowance race on the main track for three-year-olds and upward—I like the fourth-favored entry (at 9/2), Till Then, with Ricardo Feliciano aboard.

This five-year-old gelding had nine money finishes in his 16 career starts, with four of those wins. His 2021 record makes him even more of a standout in this six-horse field: Seven money finishes in 12 starts, three of those wins.

For comparison, Deer Creek Road—the morning-line favorite—managed 16 money finishes in 48 starts, three of those wins.

Till Then is trained by owner Christi Esposito.

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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