FALCON POINTS

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

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Here is your betting guide for Saturday'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.

Good luck.

RACE 4 - BC FILLY/MARE SPRINT

Oft-drugged Gamine will be the heavy favorite here, and if she is on her game, she will be tough to beat. The distance suits her perfectly and she should be in front early. But we won't eat 7-5 on a horse that has a drug history. We will use her, but if she beats us, oh well. I like the rail horse turning back in distance, Speech, who came within a neck of beating Gamine at Oaklawn earlier this year and was a troubled fourth finishing just behind her in the Kentucky Oaks. A clean trip might do it.

Potential plays: Exactas 1 with 2-5-7-8-9; 2-5-7-8-9 with 1. Exacta box 1-2-8-9.

Confidence level: 3.

RACE 5 - BC TURF SPRINT

Historically, we kill it in turf sprints, but this race has eluded us most years. We will keep this simple, with plays on No. 1 Big Runner, who might be on the lead early and will be tough to catch, and a Euro shipper, No. 6 Glass Slippers.

Potential plays: Win/place/show on 1 and 6.

Confidence level: 4.

RACE 6 - BC DIRT MILE

This is a nice, competitive race. I hate the post, but No. 12 Owendale is 1 for 1 on the track, 2 for 2 at the distance and has been chasing some of the best horses in America.

Potential plays: 12 with 1-4-5-6-7-9-10-11; 1-4-5-6-7-9-10-11 with 12.

Confidence level: 5. (Would be much higher if he was not stuck outside).

RACE 7 - BC FILLY/MARE TURF

Not getting cute here; I like a Euro at 20-1 in Terebellum, who has bee right there with some monsters in Europe. While most of her races have been shorter, her best came at a similar distance. There are a lot of solid contenders in here but hopefully we can get her home at a price.

Potential plays: Win/place/show on No. 7.

Confidence level: 5.

RACE 8 - BC SPRINT

Historically one of our best races, and with the favorite Vekoma scratching earlier in the week, I like a price horse in No. 11 Diamond Ops, who won the prep for this over the surface, is 3-for-5 at the distance with one second, and rarely runs a bad race. The price is square at 8-1 and should be rolling late in this big field.

Potential plays: Win/place/show on No. 11. Exactas 11 with 1-2-3-6-7-8-9-10; 1-2-3-6-7-8-9-10 with 11.

Confidence level: 7.

RACE 9 - BC MILE

Admittedly do not have a great feel for this race, which should be dominated by Europeans. We will land on the consistent Kameko, who does her best running at this distance, but almost nothing would be a surprise in this one.

Potential plays: Win/place/show on No. 2; Exactas 2-all, all-2.

Confidence level: 3.

RACE 10 - BC DISTAFF

Going to be hard to get around Momomoy Girl, who has won 10 in a row, 12 of 14 overall and returned from a two-year layoff to go 3-0 this year. According to DRF, she has not finished behind a horse in three years and has beaten 100 of the 101 horses she has faced. Stranger things have happened, but hard to play against her. Will try to toss second choice Swiss Skydiver and find long shot value behind her in the exactas.

Potential plays: Exactas 10 with 4-7-8.

Confidence level: 5.

RACE 11 - BC TURF

This one is almost a lock for a European winner, and the two favorites look especially tough. Of the two, Magical is much more accomplished, a consistent Group I winner with 12 wins in 26 starts, all against top competition. You won't get much of a price, though. The other horse we will use in exotics as a long shot is Lord North, whose last race was a disaster but the prior effort was right behind Magical.

Potential plays: Weighted Win/place/show bet with more to show, the second most to place and the least amount to win on No. 6. Exactas 2 with 3-4-6-10, 3-4-6-10 with 2. Exacta box 2-6-10.

Confidence level: 6.

RACE 12 - BC CLASSIC

Bob Baffert appears to have a stranglehold on this race, with contenders Improbable, Maximum Security and Authentic. But my play in here is Tom's D'Etat, who has been one of the best in the country for a long time. Why are we getting 6-1? His last race he stumbled badly at the start and lost all chance, as Improbable went on to win that day. But he never gave up, was beaten less than three lengths and has been freshened since. In his last seven starts, his only two losses have come at Saratoga. He is 1 for 1 at Keeneland and should be in the hunt. Three-year-old sensation Tiz The Law should be a contender as well, but the 3-year-old crop is questionable, which makes him and Authentic question marks. Should be a hell of a race.

Potential plays: Exactas 4 with 2-3-6-8-9-10; 2-3-6-8-9-10 with 4. Trifectas 4-8 with 2-3-4-6-8-9-10 with 1-2-3-4-6-8-9-10.

Confidence level: 7.

Bonus pick 4 play: All with 10 with 2-6-10 with 4-8.


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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

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Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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