FALCON POINTS

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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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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