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

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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