Falcon Points

Analysis and plays for Friday's Breeders' Cup races at Keeneland

Analysis and plays for Friday's Breeders' Cup races at Keeneland
Photo by Getty Images.

Here is your betting guide for Friday's Breeders' Cup races at Keeneland. I don't recommend playing them all, but we do provide potential plays for each race. We also provide a "confidence level" for each race, with 10 being the most confident and 1 the least. Ideally you save your biggest bankroll plays for the ones 5 and up. You can play these exactas for as little as a $1 increment, but play to your bankroll. (Stay tuned for Saturday's plays coming soon. I like that card MUCH better).

Good luck.


This is an absolute crapshoot, but that is also where you can make some money. With 2-year-olds, inconsistency is a big part of their games. The 14 horse, Golden Pal, will be the favorite, but speed is his game and he will have tons of company battling for the early lead. We will take a flyer with No. 5 Cowan, a closer who has a second at this distance over this surface.

Possible plays: 5-all, all-5 exactas, weighted show/place/win on the 5. I will also play small win/place/show bets on a couple European-based long shots, the 3 and the 6.

Confidence level: 2.


European-based runners tend to dominate most of the turf races, and this should be no exception. There are several Euro runners who could win this, but we will focus on No. 2 New Mandate at 12-1. He has won three in a row, has a nice stretch kick and will be rolling late. We will key him in exactas with the other Euros and two North American horses.

Possible plays: Exactas 2 with 1-5-6-7-9-11-12-13-14 and 1-5-6-7-9-11-12-13-14 with 2.

Confidence level: 4.


Will likely be passing on this one, as it is a short field and will be hard to get past the Bob Baffert favorite Princess Noor, who will probably fail a postface drug test, and the second choice Simply Ravishing. But we will also throw in a couple prices and hope for the best.

Possible plays: Exacta box 1-2-5-7, Trifecta box 1-2-5-7.

Confidence level: 3.


This might be a spot where the North American horses have an advantage; this is not the strongest group of Euros. Plum Ali has been dominant in all three starts and we will try to catch her in an exacta with a long shot.

Possible plays: Exactas 4 with 2-3-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-14 and 2-3-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-14 with 4.

Confidence level: 5.


Our first look at potential 2021 Derby horses (IF there is a 2021) and Jackie's Warrior will be a heavy favorite. But he has never been this far, will need the lead to win and will be pushed early by several others. All of that adds up to using long shot closers, which leads us to the 1, 6 and 9.

Possible plays: Exacta box 1-6-9. Exacta box 1-6-7-9. Exacts 1-6-9 with 1-2-5-6-7-9-13; 1-2-5-6-7-9-13 with 1-6-9.

Confidence level: 4.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.


Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.


Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome