Playing the Ponies

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Saturday, May 4

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Saturday, May 4
Coady photography

Here are my selections for Saturday night. 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's Derby Day. Please check elsewhere on the site for my analysis and picks.

FIRST
2-6-4-5
POOL LITE turned in a decent effort in last and should be in the mix


SECOND

6-7-5-3
COQUETAS needed last and fits well here


THIRD
7-4-5-1
RDK RYLEA RUE has some solid efforts in Louisiana


FOURTH
8-6-3-1
LOUIS ARMSTRONG TLC was no threat in debut but should be better here


FIFTH
4-2-1-8
ELITE CONNECTION should improve in second off the layoff


SIXTH
5-4-2-8
EVIL DAVE was right there in debut and should be in the mix


SEVENTH
1-7-4-2
TITO C has a couple solid works and could surprise


EIGHTH
5-2-7-8
SQUEEZE MY CORONA has been close in two career starts; should improve

NINTH

5-4-2-1
COSMO LELA has some quality efforts and could pull off a mild surprise


10TH
6-1-10-7
MY FIRST PRIZE PEARL was decent in debut and should improve

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Cristian Javier is in better shape this season. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.

Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).

Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.

But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.

In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.

Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.

The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome