FALCON POINTS

Get your gamble on: A look at the contenders for Saturday's Belmont Stakes and the undercard

Get your gamble on: A look at the contenders for Saturday's Belmont Stakes and the undercard
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Saturday marks an unusual running of the Belmont Stakes. Usually the final leg of the Triple Crown and run at a mile and a half, this year it will be the first of the Crown Jewels and will be run at a mile and an eighth.

While that should have resulted in a stellar field, this group is pretty lackluster, with the exception of morning-line favorite Tiz The Law, who was impressive with two big wins in Florida.

The question will be if a horse wins all three races, will it be considered a true Triple Crown? Most pundits say no. Most pundits are wrong. (Yes, asterisk guy, that means you).

If a horse can win all three of those races spread out over five months with races in between, it will have accomplished a feat arguably more difficult than the standard Triple Crown. Of the horses in the field, only Tiz The Law looks even remotely capable of that, although many have room for significant improvement.

My premium plays on the card will be available at pregame.com, but here is a look at some potential wagers:

THE UNDERCARD

The second race on the card is the Grade I Woody Stephens, which is a race we hammered last year with 18-1 shot Hog Creek Hustle. There is a horse that fits the exact same profile; turning back in distance after chasing some solid Triple Crown hopefuls at Oaklawn. He is the only true closer in a race filled with front-running burners, and the price will be right. No. 5 Shoplifted will be our play in this one. He is 8-1 morning line but it is only a five-horse field so he will likely be bet down.

In Race 4, the Pennine Ridge, I like the No. 1 horse Decorated Invader, but he will be a short price.

In Race 6, the Wonder Again, I will play the No. 1 Speaktomeofsummer, an 8-1 shot.

In Race 8, the Grade I Acorn, the No. 2 Lucrezia is the play at 9-2.

In Race 9, Stubbins is the key horse at 3-1.

THE BIG RACE

It will be hard to get around No. 8 Tiz the Law. He is four for five lifetime, with his only loss coming by less than a length at Churchill Downs. He is the only horse in the field with a 100 Beyer for his win in the Holy Bull, and he dominated the Florida Derby.

But if you want to take a stand against him, he hasn't raced since March, his Beyers other than the Holy Bull are not that impressive, and the horses he beat there don't appear to be much. That said, he should be very tough here. The horses that could improve enough to get him include No.1 Tap It To Win, who has been much better as a 3 year old than as a juvenile; Sole Volante (2), Max Player (3), Modernist (4) and Dr. Post (9). The intriguing horse, however, is No. 5 Farmington Road. He has been stuck in outside posts at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds, which is darn near impossible to overcome, and still ran credible races. His last race he raced wide against an inside, speed favoring track in a race won by Nadal, who would be favored here if he had not retired. He is probably more likely to run second or third, but an exacta or trifecta with him in it could be very profitable, even with the Tiz the Law on top. He is 15-1 morning line and will be every bit that price. He will have to close, but the race should set up for him, he has a recency edge and has faced top runners.

Tap it To Win could be real trouble if he makes the early lead. He has a wire-to-wire recent win over the surface, which is a big advantage. The others are all horses that could hit the board and should be used in exactas and trifectas.

So good luck with Saturday's races, and keep your asterisks to yourself.

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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