Horse racing odds are front and center this week, with the Triple Crown season kicking off this weekend with the Belmont Stakes. As that high-profile race will be without fans, like all other horse races have been since the COVID-19 hiatus, all eyes will be on betting boards at all open tracks across North America.**video
Racing analyst Monique Vág focuses on the odds at these available tracks, and gives her best horse racing tips and betting picks for the Thursday, June 18 racing cards at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park, starting at 2:38 p.m. ET.
Churchill Downs Free Picks
Race No. 4, $79,000 Maiden, Post: 2:38 p.m. ET
Pick: No. 7 Mad Maddy (7/5)
Only three runners in here have logged pari-mutuel starts, so there is a lot of unknowns and risk when backing these inexperienced fillies. I landed on this runner, who does have a start under her belt, and she looked impressive, narrowly missing out on finding the winners circle on first asking after flaunting some early speed.
Today she draws a great post to leave the gate with urgency and gets another try at the sprinting distance. She looms as the one to beat, and it's a great sign to see her raced back quickly.
Race No. 6, $81,000 Allowance, Post: 3:42 p.m. ET
Pick: No. 2 Angelus Warrior (6/1)
This is a good betting race, as it's a field that's filled with a lot of runners stretching out in distance, or trying their luck exiting Maiden company for the first time. I landed on this runner who draws a much better post position to work with and gets another try versus allowance company.
Expect this colt to be much closer today pending a good break. He could be dangerous if he executes a stalking trip behind some of the early speed.
Race No. 9, $80,000 Optional Claiming, Post: 5:18 p.m. ET
Pick: No. 10 Midnight Tea Time (8/1)
In a race lacking any early speed, expect to see this one put into play early and likely be the one on the front end dictating the tempo. Today he gets to drop out of graded stakes company to face off against much easier, and he should be working out a trip being forwardly placed.
It is a much easier spot for him to be a factor, and his front-running style makes him a major contender versus this group.
Belmont Park Free Picks
Race No. 8, $56,000 Allowance, Post: 5:04 p.m. ET
Pick: No. 10 Amos (12/1)
She's been prone to slower-than-ideal breaks on the turf, but she could be a major factor working out a closing effort. Expect her to be sharper today, making her second start off a layoff and getting to stretch out in distance. Last start she clearly ran out of racing room while trying to work out a closing effort at only six furlongs.
Look for her to be a factor late as she looks like a very logical contender to hit the board at a nice price.
Race No. 9, $125,000 Critical Eye Stakes, Post: 5:36 p.m. ET
Pick: No. 2 Ratajkowski (EVEN)
Moves to the Brian Lynch barn and drops out of the graded stakes ranks after a fourth-place effort. She is a very lightly-raced mare with only seven career starts, although through those seven tries she has only finished off the board once.
She's going to be the one on the front end today, and has proven very difficult to pass when getting to the lead. Shortening in distance to a mile - her preferred distance - just adds to the appeal. Although the price will be short, she looks like a very logical single in all of your exotic wagers.