Playing the Ponies

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Saturday, March 2 with bonus play on the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream

Courtesy photo

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). I included a play on the big Kentucky Derby prep this weekend, the Fountain of Youth.

Fountain of Youth bonus play

There will be a heavy favorite in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream in No. 7 Hidden Scroll. But he only has one dominant race under his belt. He could crush this group, but he could also miss the board. So we will take a flyer on No. 4 Bourbon War. We will key him first and second in the trifectas with six other horses. That will be $60 total for a buck, $30 if you play it for .50. Here is the play: 4 with 1-5-6-7-8-9 with 1-5-6-7-8-9 and 1-5-6-7-8-9 with 4 with 1-5-6-7-8-9.

Sam Houston selections

FIRST
7-6-1-2
TEXAS STYLE CS
Should improve with drop from stakes company


SECOND
3-2-6-8
COUNTRY KING finds a soft spot and should be tough here


THIRD
5-1-7-9
HIGHWAY SONG
Crushed most of these in last and would need to regress not to do it again


FOURTH

3-7-6-5
ARCH VALUE bounced in last but should fare better here


FIFTH
5-1-9-2
REAL DE JAPA
Should improve with a start over the surface; price is square


SIXTH

2-1-4-3
IRISH CITY LAD
Just nudged the second choice in last; should come down to these two again


SEVENTH
6-1-4-2
FLYING MAGIC SONG
Has been very OK on grass recently, not so good off it. Contender if race stays on turf


EIGHTH

2-3-7-5
MISCHIEF GALORE is one of two Asmussen contenders in this one


NINTH

8-7-2-5
WILLTHERESAWAY might have needed last and could surprise

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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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