FALCON POINTS

Analysis and plays for the Preakness Stakes card

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Saturday marks the running of the Preakness Stakes. It has little meaning, because there is no Triple Crown possibility and the Rona has it being run in October instead of May. But here are a few plays for the card, focusing on all the stakes races. As for wager sizes, bet what you can afford. Most of these will be $20-$50 per race on my tickets, but you can bet minimums and spend as little as $6-10 if you like. It's up to you. These are all free to do with as you wish. They are all guaranteed to win unless they don't. Good luck:

Race 2: The 1 is favored here, but we will take a shot with the second choice, She'sonthewarpath. Has only missed the board three times in 11 starts on the turf and will give you an honest effort.

The bet: WIN/PLACE/SHOW on the 3.

Race 5: Interesting filly sprint here, with not a lot of actual early speed, which should favor Fly On Angel. If she clears early, she should be tough. Wicked Whisper almost caught her in last, however, and is rounding in to form and will be our key horse.

The bets: Exactas 2 with 1-3-4-6-7, 1-3-4-6-7 with 2. Also, box 2-3-6-7.

Race 6: Pass. Factor This is even money and will be tough to beat.

Race 7: No. 8 Nitrous is a bit of kryptonite for me. I have played him several times over the last year and he usually lets me down. But he has faced some monsters this year - Whitmore, Vekoma and CZ Rocket in particular - and while he hasn't threatened those, I think today he is in a perfect spot. His last was a bit of a dog so we have to get past that, but he will get more of my money today at 10-1 morning line.

The bets: WIN/PLACE/SHOW on No. 8. Bet heavier to place and show than win.

Race 8: Pass for me. If you must play something, the 3 across the board.

Race 9: Not crazy about this one either but play the 9 across the board small.

Race 10: Bonnie South will get most of the money here, and she is worth using. But we will also do an exacta box where we try to beat her. If she runs, we get it twice. If not hopefully we pull a nice score.

The bets: Exactas 5 with 1-3-4-8-11, 1-3-4-8-11 with 5. Exacta box 3-4-5-8-11.

Race 11: The Preakness Stakes. In the Derby, Authentic was able to get to the lead early after a slow start, set moderate fractions and was never really threatened. He could easily do the same thing today. He might face a little more pressure from Art Collector, Swiss Skydiver and perhaps Thousand Words. We will play two trifectas: The Authentic wins trifecta and the one where we go for the big score. Maybe double the price on the first ticket.

The bets: Trifecta wheel 9 with 2-3-5-7-8 with 1-2-3-5-6-7-8-10-11.

8 with 3-5-7-9 with all; 3-5-7-9 with 8 with all, 3-5-7-9 with all with 8.

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Life after Correa may not be the worst thing. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Carlos Correa is having a damn good year. The Astros shortstop is hitting .285 with 24 homers, 87 RBI, 72 walks, .862 OPS, a 7.2 WAR, and a .981 fielding percentage. In any other year, those would be numbers worthy of being in the mix for AL MVP (if it weren't for that dastardly Shohei Otani). Correa is also in a contract year. He and the Astros were far enough apart that the season started and he's held true to not wanting to negotiate midseason.

The offers of six years for $120 million and five years for $125 million were both rejected by he and his camp. They're seeking something much longer and for more money on the annual average. With the team unwilling to meet those demands, it seems as if the team and the player are headed for a split.

Lots of Astros fans are not happy with the prospect of Correa leaving via free agency. Some think the team isn't doing enough and should pony up to bring him back. Some feel Correa should take what they're offering because it's a fair deal that'll allow the team to sign other players. Then, there's that small band of us that are totally okay with him leaving.

One of the main reasons I'm okay with him leaving is the players the team still has under control that are potential replacements. Aledmys Diaz and Pedro Leon are the first two guys that come to mind. Diaz is a 31-year-old vet who's stepped up when he's called upon. He can slide over to third and allow Alex Bregman to play shortstop. Leon is the team's 23-year-old hot prospect who signed as an outfielder that the team has been trying to turn into a shortstop. If Correa were to leave, he could instantly plug the hole Carlos would leave behind. Either of those options lead to my next point of being okay with Correa leaving which is to...

...allocate that money elsewhere. Whether it's signing a replacement (at short or third), or boosting the pitching staff, I'll be fine as long as it's money well spent. Signing a shortstop or third baseman would determine where Bregman would be playing. If said player takes significantly less than Correa and fills 70-80% of his offensive shoes, it'll be worth it. Others will have to step it up. If they find a deal on a top of the rotation starting pitcher, that would be ideal as well. As I stated a couple of weeks ago, this team has employed a six-man rotation, but doesn't have a true ace. Spending anywhere from $20-30 million a year on a top-notch pitcher to add to the staff would bolster this staff in more ways than one. It'll finally give them the ace they lack, plus it'll bump all the young talent (still under team control) down a peg creating depth and perhaps even creating bullpen depth.

The only way any of this works is if Correa isn't back. Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander's money comes off the books also. Freeing up that much payroll and not re-appropriating those resources to ensure this team stays in contention would be a first degree felony in sports court. I don't think Jim Crane wants that for this team. I for sure don't think James Click wants that as his legacy. Let's sit back and watch how the organization maneuvers this offseason and pray they get it right.


Editor's note: If you want to read the other side of the argument, check out Ken Hoffman's piece from Tuesday.

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