Playing the Ponies

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Friday, Jan. 24

Horses leave the gate at Sam Houston Race Park
Courtesy photo

Here are my selections for Friday night at Sam Houston Race Park. These are not meant to be in exact order, but merely the four horses I think have the best chance to win. For beginners, I suggest exacta boxes with three horses, using two of mine and one of your own. And you can always pick up a copy of Acing Racing 2016 to learn everything you need to know. (These are the picks and format that are available on the free tip sheet at SHRP). We will be broadcasting live with the Blitz from 4-7 p.m. so please drop by.

FIRST
4-3-2-9
UPTOWN WTF romped in first start in Texas and could repeat


SECOND
6-7-1-2
NOLA'S SUGARPLUM might not have liked the Delta surface; fits well if she handles this


THIRD
2-6-8-3
MORO CHARLIE switches back to the main track and should contend


FOURTH

8-1-3-4
MUCHO DINERO has solid connections and should be in the mix


FIFTH
10-12-6-9

RAMAH had some quick works early and should be ready for debut

SIXTH
4-9-8-2
STUMBERG has a couple nice starts and Fair Grounds and fits well here


SEVENTH
5-3-6-1
WILD MOMENT shortens back up and should fare better at this distance


EIGHTH
1-8-9-4
GILES will be a short price but looks tough to handle here


NINTH
4-1-10-8
STARLING has a start over the surface and should improve


TENTH

7-5-4-10

BAZOOKA has been in could form and could upset the favorite



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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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