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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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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