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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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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