PLAYING THE PONIES

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Saturday, April 13 (with bonus selections on the Arkansas Derby card at Oaklawn and Lexington at Keeneland)

Trump My Record runs at Sam Houston Race Park Saturday night. Hodges Photography

Here are my selections for Saturday. 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). Also, it is Arkansas Derby Day at Oaklawn, and if you are looking for some simulcast action before Sam starts, we have a few plays for you...As to SHRP, these are all 2-year-old races and most have never run, so we are basically making our best guess by looking a breeding, trainers and works. It is not a card I have a lot of confidence in, but good luck today! We also have bonus picks on the cards for the final major Derby preps - the Arkansas Derby and Lexington:

OAKLAWN PARK

Race 4: The Count Fleet features one of the best sprinters in America in No. 4 Whitmore. But we like No. 1 Mitole to pull a mild upset. Straight exacta 1-4.

Race 9: The Oaklawn Handicap. Rain is expected and it should be a sloppy track. If so, we will bet No. 3 Chris and Dave across the board. If the track is fast, we will pass.

Race 11: Arkansas Derby. This one should come down to four horses to win the race - No. 1 Improbable, No. 3 Omaha Beach, No. 8 Country House an No. 11 Long Range Toddy (terrible name by the way). We will play the trifecta with 1-3-8-11 on top with 1-2-3-5-6-8-11 with 1-2-3-5-6-8-11. I like this play on a fast or wt track and you can play it for .50 if you don't want to spend more than $60.

KEENELAND

Race 9: The Lexington Stakes. I like No. 3 Sueno off an OK third in the Louisiana Derby. If he returns a stalking trip, I like his chances a lot. Will play across the board and wheel first and second in exactas with the 1-2-4-5-6-9-10. I will also double dip and take long shot Senden, who hung in there against probable Derby favorite Tacitus in his last start. So bet the 9 across and go 9 with 1-2-3-4-5-6-10 and 1-2-3-4-5-6-10 with 9. I will also hit the 3-9 box a couple extra times.

SHRP

FIRST
10-7-4-1
AGAVERO CARTEL has harp works for the career debut


SECOND
8-1-6-10
CANELO ALVAREZ might pack a...punch at first asking?

THIRD
1-8-2-5
BABY LICIOUS just missed in a big race in Louisiana

FOURTH
6-2-1-5
TRS HOMBRE looks as good as any in a wide open affair

FIFTH
2-4-6-3
TRUMP MY RECORD is already a stakes winner after two starts

SIXTH
7-2-5-6
KOMMANDER just missed in debut and should improve here

SEVENTH
8-1-10-3
DIAMOND DOMINATION could surprise at a nice price

EIGHTH
9-1-3-5
GBH STREAKINFORGIRLS is bred to run early and has solid works

NINTH
1-10-2-4
DOC HOCKADAY has fired off a pair of bullet works for this

TENTH
4-7-8-3
J RODS MACHO MAN has a nice win under his belt, which should give him an edge

11TH
5-6-2-7
NSM ICE STORM has nice works and is bred to run early

12TH
5-2-7-9
CLICK CLICK BANG has solid works for good connections

13TH
5-8-6-1
CY ME AND YOU PROSPECT was OK in debut and should improve in start No. 2

14TH
7-3-6-2
HES EL MARTILLO was close in debut in Oklahoma; should move forward

15TH
8-9-5-3
QUEEN CORONADA has a couple nice works and is bred to be quick

Playing the Ponies

5 keys to betting on the Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes will cap off this year's Triple Crown, which will go down as one of the most controversial and eventually disappointing three races in a long time. But there is still money to be made, so here are five ways to approach the race. My horse-by-horse analysis is here. My premium plays are available at pregame.com. Historically the Belmont is where we do our best work in the Triple Crown. It is the longest of the Triple Crown races, and it takes a good combination of stamina and speed. Most of these horses will never run this far again.

1) Hard to get around the favorites

Tacitus, one of our Derby horses, will be the favorite after finishing fourth in that race on a track he hated. He has classic distance breeding, a good running style for the distance and has all the qualities you look for in a Belmont winner. He is also 9-5. War of Will, who dominated the Preakness and is very tough at his best, is 2-1. Both horses should be significant factors. That makes it more difficult to put together a decent score. However, when faced with this scenario, you look for long shots in the trifectas, and that is how we will approach the race.

2) About those long shots...

There are three that are intriguing. Master Fencer was seventh in the Derby, but the Japanese horse was beaten just four lengths and was finishing very strongly. His style should suit Belmont, and Japanese horses tend to run well everywhere. He was not elite in Japan, but let's face it, this field isn't either. He could surprise at a big price. We were all-in on Bourbon War in the Preakness and he took us all out by finishing eighth. He really had no excuse that day other than maybe the long layoff got to him. We will give him one more chance to reward our faith. Sir Winston already has a nice effort over the surface and always seems to show up at a big price.

3) The next tier

Everfast was second in the Preakness, but that effort came out of nowhere and horses that don't run in the Derby, then run well in the Preakness tend to falter in the Belmont. Intrepid Heart is a regally bred, lightly raced colt who could improve. Joevia should be the pace setter, and that is a big advantage in longer races, because he will likely get the lead all to himself and could last a long time. All of these could be bottom factors in the trifectas.

4) So how do we play it? 

I like exacta and trifecta boxes with the two favorites plus Master Fencer and Bourbon War. I also like the idea of keying the two favorites on top and in second with the long shots we like and as many horses as possible in third.

I also like the idea of playing the two long shots - Bourbon War and Master Fencer, across the board.

On the undercard, I like some long shots to throw in your wagers:

Race 8: No. 8 Hog Creek Hustle

Race 9: No. 5 Tale of Silence

Race 10: No 4 Qurban.

5) Keep an eye on the surface

As of today, they are expecting nice weather at Belmont so everything is handicapped for a fast track. Should that prove wrong, check back on Twitter as I will likely change some plays. Good luck and let's finish this year strong.

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