Thursday’s Best Horse Racing Bets (May 20, 2021)

| May 20, 2021 5:12 am PDT

I’m going with the Triple Crown tracks for my Thursday picks: Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course, and Belmont Park. I found a couple of deep underdogs (fourth-favored) at Belmont and Churchill Downs, and I notice that I only found a single favorite at each of the tracks worth touting. Our bankrolls should send thank-you notes to all three tracks.

After taking a look at my picks for Thursday, remember that you can check out those races and more at one of our recommended horse racing betting sites.

Good luck!

Thursday’s Picks for Belmont Park

I’m starting with race two at Belmont Park—a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. My money is on the fourth-favored entry (at 4/1), Vip Nation.

Trained for Ben Mondello by Rudy R. Rodriguez, the six-year-old Vip Nation finished in the money 17 of her 33 career starts, winning six. While that might not be impressive, it makes her quite a standout in this eight-horse field.

For comparison, the 9/5 morning line favorite, Here Comes Jackie, moneyed 14 of her 36 career starts, winning five.

Sure, she participated in five stakes races but she only managed a money finish in one (placing third in a four-horse race), and that was over two years ago.

Rodriguez has chosen Manny Franco to saddle Vip Nation for this run.

Race seven is a one-miler for three-year-old fillies, and I’m calling this one for the second-favored Malibu Curl (at 5/2).

This filly moneyed two of her three career starts, winning her second maiden attempt and then placing third in the Demoiselle Stakes (Grade II) at Aqueduct last December.

A veteran campaigner in Breeders’ Cup races, Tom Albertrani trains Malibu Curl for Woodslane Farm. Albertrani has tapped veteran jockey Luis Saez to ride in this race.

In race eight—a six-furlong turf run for three-year-olds and upward—I’m calling the win for the 2/1 morning line turf favorite, Shekky Shebaz, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.

Trained by Christophe Clement for owners Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables LLC, and Michael J. Caruso, the six-year-old Shekky Shebaz has finished in the money 16 of his 23 career starts, winning six. Nearly half of his career has been spent campaigning (profitably) in ungraded and graded stakes races.

My Thursday Picks for Churchill Downs

Purely coincidentally, I’m starting with race two at Churchill Downs, as well. This is a one-mile main track run for fillies and mares, and I’m buying a win ticket on one of the fourth-favored entries (there are two at 6/1) in this race: She’s a Wolfe.

Ridden by Joseph Rocco, Jr. for this race, She’s a Wolfe finished in the money for eight of her 14 career starts, winning five. This includes the Oklahoma Stallion Fillies Stakes (Black Type) last September and the Oklahoma Classics Distaff Stakes (Black Type) the following month.

Longtime racing veteran Donnie K. Von Hemel trains. She’s a Wolfe for owner Robert H. Zoellner.

In race seven—a six-furlong main track run for three-year-old fillies—I’m banking on one of the third-favored entries (there are three at 8/1) in this race: Exotic West.

Trained by Wayne Catalano for owners Gary and Mary West, Exotic West moneyed three of her four career starts, missing the money with a sixth-place finish in a bump-filled Santa Ynez Stakes (Grade II) at Santa Anita this past January.

She aced her maiden run on her first start last November at Del Mar.

Catalano has veteran jockey Ricard Santana, Jr. in the irons for this race.

Switching to turf for race eight—a 1-1/2 mile grass run for three-year-olds and upward—I’m betting on the 5/2 morning line favorite, Media Blitz.

This four-year-old colt finished in the money for four of his five career starts, winning one. His most recent speed figures are in the triple digits.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., Media Blitz is under training to Simon Callaghan, who took Firing Line to a second-place finish at the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Callaghan has tapped veteran jockey Tyler Gaffalione for this run.

Thursday Picks for Pimlico

For race four—a five-furlong turf run for three-year-olds and upward—I’m backing one of the two second-favored entries (at 9/2) in this race: Pay the Kid.

This four-year-old gelding finished in the money four of his six career starts, winning one. Ridden by Jorge Ruiz for this run, Pay the Kid is under training to Dale Capuano for owner Mopo Racing.

Capuano has ranked regularly among the top 100 trainers in wins and earnings for the past two decades.

Race six is a one-mile turf run for three-year-olds and upward, and I’m calling it for the 7/2 morning line turf favorite, Captain Thunder.

This six-year-old gelding finished in the money for eight of his 18 career starts, winning two. Under training to Francis “Tres” Abbott III for owner Day At The Races, LLC, Captain Thunder will be ridden this race by veteran jockey Feargal Lynch.

In race seven—a six-furlong main track run for fillies and mares—I’m going with the second-favored (at 7/2) Be Present, with veteran jockey Julien Pimentel in the irons.

Trained by Jorge Duarte, Jr. for owner Colts Neck Stables, LLC, Be Present moneyed six of his eight career starts, winning one. In November, Pimentel rode Be Present most recently to a third-place finish in an allowance race at Laurel Park.

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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