Sam Houston Race Park selections for Saturday, March 30 (with bonus picks on the Florida Derby and Dubai World Cup)

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Here are my selections for Saturday, the final night of thoroughbred racing for 2019 (sad). 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 also have some bonus plays on the Dubai World Cup and Florida Derby:

DUBAI WORLD CUP

Race 9, Meydan: Cappezzano is an interesting horse who has reeled off three straight big performances over the surface. Gunnevera is one of our all-time favorite go tos in big races. Thunder Snow won this race last year. But I am intrigued by Yoshida, who has only two dirt starts and both are strong.

The play: Exacta wheels 10 with 1-2-3-4-5-7-11-12, 1-2-3-4-5-7-11-12 with 10, and we will bet the 10 across the board.

FLORIDA DERBY

Race 13, Gulfsstream Park: Hidden Scroll was a beaten favorite in the Fountain of Youth, but he was involved in a wicked speed duel. He should be better here, but he also figures to get caught up in a similar scenario with speedsters Maximum Security and Hard Belle stretching out. That sets it up nicely for Bourbon War, Code of Honor and perhaps Harvey Wallbanger.

The play: Exacta wheels 4 with 1-3-5-8-9 and 1-3-5-8-9 with 4. I think you could could also wheel the 4 first and second with the same horses in the trifecta.

FIRST
9-2-8-1
LITTLE SAMMY SV was in tough in last but priors fit in this field


SECOND
3-4-6-5
OLETA INEZ just missed in last and should be in the mix here


THIRD
10-7-2-1
BRENDA'S FEVER was solid at Fair Grounds and will be tough here


FOURTH
9-8-3-6
BWANA GO has been sharp last three and will have a shot if form holds


FIFTH
7-8-11-12
ALPHA AND OMEGA needed last and has a great record over the surface


SIXTH
1-2-8-4
FOREST GIRL is in sharp form and distance should be perfect


SEVENTH
8-4-5-6
ALLITERATIVE should improve in this spot and could turn the tables


EIGHTH
6-1-3-8
STARFACE GUY gets back in for a tag and fits in this spot


NINTH
1-8-9-5
GOLD LABEL ships in from New Orleans and will be very tough

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Composite photo by Jack Brame

Former Astros manager Andrew Jay Hinch is on a short list of candidates to become manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.

The question is, after being suspended and later fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, does A.J. Hinch deserve to manage again in baseball?

It's weird to think because so much has happened in 2020, but Hinch was suspended and fired only nine months ago. His banishment, however, ends in a matter of weeks with the final out of the upcoming World Series. At that point, he will be available to manage the Tigers or any other team. There's a possibility that the Mets are interested. Some were hoping it'd be the Astros, but the Astros are committed to manager Dusty Baker for next year. After that … never say never.

Shortly after getting the Astros ax, Hinch went on MLB TV and apologized for his role in the Astros cheating scandal. Although baseball's investigation said the garbage can banging scheme was "with the exception of (Astros coach Alex) Cora, player-driven and player-executed," Hinch took responsibility as manager and didn't challenge his punishment. No players were punished.

"I still feel responsible and will always feel responsible as the man out front," Hinch said. "As the leader, I was in charge of the team. I put out a statement to apologize. But there is something different to doing it on camera and putting a face to an apology, and saying I'm sorry to the league, to baseball, to fans, to players, to the coaches.

"It happened on my watch. I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it. And the commissioner's office made very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure that nothing like this happened. And we fell short."

In effect, while Hinch didn't authorize or participate in the sign-stealing scandal, he didn't do enough (really anything) to stop it. He is the rare case of being a guilty bystander.

To be clear, Hinch has not been offered the Detroit manager job. However, he has more experience and more wins under his belt than most of the other candidates being considered.

Hinch's reputation is blemished, but his credentials can't be disputed. During his five years as Astros manager, the team never had a losing season, won 100 or more games three times, including a team record 107 wins last year, made the playoffs three times and won a World Series.

Has baseball forgiven Hinch, and does he deserve another chance to manage in the big leagues? This is America, the land of forgiveness and second chances.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Hinch knew his team was cheating and didn't do enough to stop it. There's no defense for that. But I think he's paid enough of a price to get back in baseball.

Mike Tyson raped a woman, went to jail, and now he's practically America's sweetheart. Hillary forgave Bill. We not only forgave Confederate leaders, we built schools and statues to honor them. Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading, now she's back on TV baking crumpets. Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for pee'ing on a monument outside the Alamo, there is no more sacred place in Texas, and now he sells out concerts at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Pee-wee Herman, well, let's not say what he was caught doing, but he's planning to tour the U.S. celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee's Big Adventure movie.

Remember, Hinch was suspended for a year. It could have been worse. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to ban people for life. Since becoming the commish, Manfred has permanently banished two people: former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa for hacking into the Astros computer database, and former Atlanta Braves general manager, John Coppolella for signing international players illegally.

Manfred also has temporarily banned Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for shouting inappropriate comments at female reporters last year. Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after this year's World Series. However, if he commits one more violation of baseball rules, he will be banned for life.

Lifetime bans aren't as unusual as you might think. Since baseball's beginnings in the 1800s, dozens of players, managers and team owners have been banned, mostly, like Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox, for gambling-related offenses.

A.J. Hinch copped to his crime, suffered the consequences, now it's time for him to manage a baseball team again. It's not like he'd be landing a plum job with Detroit. The Tigers are out of this year's playoff picture. They lost 114 games last season. And were 64-98 the two years prior. Managing the Tigers will be punishment enough.

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