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 loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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