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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Correa could be on his way out. Composite image by Jack Brame.

It has not been the best of times to be a star athlete in Houston. In the last year, Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins were solid off for a warm bucket of spit. George Springer won't be back. James Harden and Russell Westbrook rumors are rampant. J.J. Watt might be moving on as well.

Now, reports are the Astros are listening to offers for Carlos Correa.

Predictably, Astros fans are livid. And if it's true, they should be concerned about the bigger picture.

Trading Correa makes sense - if you have no plans on keeping him after next season, as was clearly the case with Springer. If the Astros can get a haul and replenish the farm system, it would be the right move, especially considering Correa's injury history.

But in the long run, it does not bode well for the direction of the team. All recent indications are that the Astros are going cheap.

They would still be a competitive team without Correa, but it would be yet another indication their World Series window has closed. Alex Bregman could slide over to shortstop, but who would play third? And they only have one starting outfielder on the roster as it is. Putting together a competitive lineup around Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez would still be possible, but if the Astros aren't going to spend money, that could be problematic.

The writing was probably on the wall when the team hired James Click as GM from the notoriously frugal Tampa Bay organization. The good news is the Rays have been successful. But this is a new direction for a team that was not afraid to spend big money to make runs at the World Series.

If they lose Correa, they lose a team leader, one of the few players who embraced the villain role in the wake of the cheating controversy and was not afraid to speak out. But he has never lived up to his MVP potential, has battled injuries and will command big dollars on the open market. He is still young enough to become that kind of player, and someone will gamble big money that he will.

Sadly, if this rumor is true, it won't be the Astros.

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