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 DRF.com, Twinspires.com and USRacing.com, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA’s Talking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.
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6 Beginner Betting Tools
- Start simple with an easy guide for how to bet on horse racing.
- Not sure what that word means? Horse racing terminology is a language of its own. Allow us translate for you.
- What the heck is a speed figure? This beginner’s guide to speed figures has everything you need to know.
- 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.
- We all make mistakes when it comes to betting on horse racing, here are eight lessons learned from experience.
- Figure out how much each bet will cost in advance with our Gambling Calculator, presented by NYRA Bets.
Saturday, March 25
Fair Grounds takes center stage on Saturday with a monumental 15-race card headlined by this year’s running of the Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, which will be one of the most meaningful prep races on the road to the Kentucky Derby this spring. Along with the feature race, there will also be three other graded stakes races on the Saturday, March 25 Fair Grounds program, including the standout betting race on the undercard, the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Classic presented by Horse Racing Nation for older horses on the turf. Let’s take a closer look at the Muniz Memorial and the Louisiana Derby and try to pick some winners this Saturday at Fair Grounds. Best of luck.
Fair Grounds, Race 10, $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes Presented by Horse Racing Nation, 5:36 p.m. ET
The Grade 2 Muniz Memorial is a 1 1/8-mile turf race that drew a field of 10. The star attraction is #1 Atone, who is fresh off his career-best victory last time out in the Grade 1, $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes Presented by Qatar Racing at Gulfstream Park, where he beat a loaded field at this same distance and did so with a big speed figure. With wins in his two most recent races, Atone appears to be in the best form of his life now for trainer Mike Maker. You also have to love Atone’s versatility from a pace standpoint. He went wire-to-wire to win at Aqueduct two races ago and then came from a mid-pack stalking position for the big win last time. Luiz Saez takes over the mount. Atone will be tough to beat and there’s no doubt about that, but there’s one horse in the field who seems like he will be up to the task and that’s #6 Two Emmys. He looked great winning the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Stakes Presented by Horse Racing Nation at this course and distance last time out over several of these same rivals in what was the local prep for the Muniz. Two Emmys won the 2022 edition of the Muniz and has always loved this turf course with four wins and four seconds in 11 career starts. He is a Grade 1 winner from earlier in his career when he won the 2021 Mr. D. Stakes (formerly known as the Arlington Million). There are eight other very solid contenders entered in this spot, but nevertheless this race should come down to a headline match-up between Atone and Two Emmys. May the best horse win.
Saturday’s featured race is the Grade 2 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, which drew a deep 12-horse field of 3-year-olds looking to punch their tickets into the starting gate for the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. With 200 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points at stake to the top five finishers, including 100 to the winner and 40 points for second, at least two of these entrants should be on their way to Louisville. The obvious choice is the favorite, #2 Instant Coffee, who established himself as the top Derby contender at Fair Grounds back in January when he was the easy winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes in an effort that looks even better now that third-place finisher Confidence Game came back to win the $1 million Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in his next race. Brad Cox has multiple Derby contenders in his stable, but Instant Coffee is arguably the barn’s first-stringer. He also won last fall’s Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill, he’s got a good closing running style that fits perfectly in the long stretch run at Fair Grounds, and he’s well-suited to get today’s extended 1 3/16-mile distance. Those with legit chances to knock-off the chalk include #5 Disarm, who ran fast against good horses when winning a maiden special weight race at Saratoga last fall. He finished second in his return prep race off a long layoff for Steve Asmussen last time at Oaklawn, but he could be ready today at 10-1 odds on the morning line. #1 Shopper’s Revenge is Asmussen’s “other” horse sitting at 12-1 odds on the morning line, and he also looks capable of making a big step forward here after blowing the start before coming on to finish second in an Oaklawn allowance route race last time. If either or both of the Asmussen duo doesn’t excite you, perhaps Cox’s other entrant, #11 Jace’s Road does. He exits a disappointing fifth-place finish at Oaklawn in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes behind Arabian Knight, but perhaps he can be given an excuse for not handling Oaklawn’s sloppy track that day. When last seen on a fast track, he looked very good two races ago when going wire-to-wire to win the $100,000 Gun Runner Stakes right here at Fair Grounds. He beat Raise Cain that day, and Raise Cain returned to post an upset win in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in his next start.
The Play: Many will try to beat the favorite here, but when they zig, you zag. Bet #2 Instant Coffee (2-1) to win and use him in an all-Brad Cox exacta box along with #11 Jace’s Road (12-1). This will give you one speed and one closer on your ticket. Also play trifectas keying Instant Coffee on top and using #1 Shopper’s Revenge (12-1), #5 Disarm (10-1), and #11 Jace’s Road underneath.