HORSE RACING PLAYS

Picks on select races for Friday and Saturday's Breeders' Cup races at Churchill Downs

The Breeders' Cup returns to Churchill Downs. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Breeders' Cup - horse racing's championship weekend -- is Friday and Saturday at Churchill, and we are taking a different approach this year. We are just focusing on a few races for a change and not giving picks for the full two days. Here are some plays we like (my favorite plays are Saturday in the Sprint, Mile and Classic. I do not have any strong opinions on the races I did not list and anything I throw out there would be guesswork). We are playing against favorites and looking to hit just a couple of these to make a profit and be happy.

As always, I am assuming you have some knowledge of the terminology. If not, Acing Racing 2016 is a great resource.

FRIDAY

BREEDERS CUP JUVENILE FILLIES, RACE 7

We will playing much lighter on Friday than Saturday. In this race we will play one of our weighted show/place/win bets on No. 1 Reflect (basically something like $40 to show, $20 to place, $10 to win or $8-$4-$2 if you are playing with a smaller budget), who improved in her first try at the distance and could surprise with another step forward.

BC JUVENILE TURF, RACE 8

Will bet No. 5 Line of Duty across the board at 10-1.

BC JUVENILE, RACE 9

We will bet No. 8 Standard Deviation wheeled in exactas first and second with the field. 

SATURDAY

BC DIRT MILE, RACE 5

Most of the money will go to City of Light and unbeaten Catalina Cruiser, who will be very tough here. But we will take a swing with a nice price on No. 7 Firenze Fire, who is 3 for 4 at the distance and his win in the Dwyer puts him right there with the favorites. Will back weight this play with more money to show and place than win; basically $40 to show, $20 to place, $10 to win or $8-$4-$2 if you are playing with a smaller budget (same concept as the race on Friday). Will also tie him in exactas and trifectas first and second with the two favorites and ALL in third on the tris.

BREEDERS CUP SPRINT, RACE 7

No. 1 Whitmore simply does not run bad races. He always fires, and while he does not always win, he is always close at the finish. While he faces some speedsters that have beaten him before - Promises Fulfilled, Limosine Liberal, Imperial Hint and Roy H - this is his best distance and the race should set up beautifully. His only bad effort in the last year was in the slop at Churchill going longer, so caution should be used if the track is a mess, but even in that one he was beaten less than four lengths despite traffic. Will be playing him hard in the win/place spots, and keying him first and second in the tris and exactas with the horses listed above and ALL in third on the tris.

BREEDERS CUP MILE, RACE 8

Love European runners in this race, and will be going for a kill shot here by betting both No. 7 Expert Eye and No. 14 Mustashry across the board and will be wheeling them both in first and second with the field in exactas.

BREEDERS CUP CLASSIC, RACE 11

Well, we have to play the Classic, right? Accelerate will be the favorite but is stuck in the 14 post. Worth using, but I like the four inside horses as well (Thunder Snow, Roaring Lion, Catholic Boy and Gunnevara) plus the 6 McKinzie, the 7 West Coast and the 10 Yoshida. So pretty wide open. Will likely key Gunnevara and Yoshida first and second with all the horses listed above plus the favorite. A strong case can also be made for playing Roaring Lion. Depending on how the day goes, I might do the same with him.

 

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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