PLAYING THE PONIES

Fred Faour's selections for Friday at Sam Houston Race Park -- plus a bonus play on Saturday's Pegasus World Cup

Gun Runner heads Saturday's Pegasus field. Brisnet.com

It's Day 4 of the Sam Houston Race Park thoroughbred meet with nine races tonight. Here are my selections for the card. These are not meant to be in exact order, but merely the four horses I think have the best chance to win. For beginners, I suggest exacta boxes with three horses, using two of mine and one of your own. And you can always pick up a copy of Acing Racing 2016 to learn everything you need to know. (These are the picks and format that are available on the free tip sheet at SHRP). Also, the Blitz is broadcasting live at the track today from 4-7 p.m. Drop by and say hello. However, before we get to the Sam Houston picks, the richest race in the world will be run at Gulfstream on Saturday and if you are looking for a play...

Pegasus World Cup

The race will be the final one for future Hall of Famer Gun Runner, who is the 4-5 favorite. He inherited the Best Horse in the World title when Arrogate returned from his Dubai World Cup win and was never the same. Gun Runner has won four in a row and six of his last seven, with only the second in Dubai to Arrogate tarnishing his record. He is a hard horse to root for, because his trainer is unlikeable, but that's not the horse's fault and does not tarnish his briliiance. He beat most of these in his last race, the Breeders' Cup Classic. But there are reasons to play against him here. Gulfstream is a quirky surface, he drew a tough post and will face serious early pace pressure. All that said, he is clearly the horse to beat. However, we will take a shot with No. 6 Gunnevera at 15-1. He loves Gulfstream, will be rolling late and could turn the tables on some of the horses that beat him in the Classic (he was fifth that day).

Cost will vary based on your bankroll, but we will base these plays on $2 exactas so you can get out light. Feel free to increase the wagers based on your personal budget (or go with $1 exactas if you are limited). We will do a $5 exacta box with Gunnevera and Gun Runner in case the big dog comes to play. If he doesn't, we will pick up a nice score wheeling Gunnevera in the exactas with every possible contener for $2: 6 with 2-4-5-7-9-11-12 and 2-4-5-7-9-11-12 with 6. That will cost $28 and your total outlay is $38. You could also consider playing him first and second in the trifectas with the 2-9-10-11 in second and 2-4-5-7-9-10-11-12 in third. (The second bet would be 2-9-10-11 with 6 with 2-4-5-7-9-10-11-12. For .50, those two bets come out to $28. Good luck on your plays.

Sam Houston Race Park Friday

FIRST

3-8-7-6

BIG CORK catches the easiest field he has seen in a while

SECOND

4-5-1-2

MOSTA FLYIN should be in a good spot to break through

THIRD

6-9-8-2

UNBRIDLED ENCORE is consistent but will need his best effort

FOURTH

5-6-2-3

OH FLO is well bred and could surprise at first asking

FIFTH

10-12-1-6

ARCH OF AGES drops in for a tag for the first time

SIXTH

2-1-7-8

DRINKIN SONG should be competitive at this distance

SEVENTH

5-10-7-6

REAL DE JALPA should be in the mix if she runs back to her Arlington turf form

EIGHTH

4-5-1-2

SELFIE SENSATION was sharp in last and will be tough

NINTH

11-3-2-4

CALF CREEK BULLDOG drops in for a tag and should improve

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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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