PLAYING THE PONIES

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Wednesday, Feb. 12

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Wednesday, Feb. 12


Here are my selections for Wednesday afternoon at Sam Houston Race Park. 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).

FIRST
9-3-2-4
APPROVETHISMESSAGE will be tough if race comes off the grass


SECOND
6-1-4-7
MISLED's debut was a disaster but works since are sharp


THIRD
1-7-9-2
Another powerful Broberg entry that will take some beating


FOURTH
10-1-9-4
MR TICKLE keeps winning and looks good on either surface


FIFTH
11-8-7-2
BANDY'S MAP was not bad in two starts in Oklahoma and should be in the mix

SIXTH
6-7-2-1
COUNTENANCE was sharp in meet debut and could win right back


SEVENTH
4-6-5-10
ANNA'S LINGERIE is worth a flyer in a struggling group


EIGHTH
11-6-9-2
HURRY BACK should get a nice pace setup to make a late run


NINTH
6-1-2-9
IM A BARNKAT looks competitive in this spot


TENTH
1-5-12-10
AFFAIRS UNLIMITED responded to the claim n a big way in last

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With their closer revealed, here are the Astros top bullpen X-factors

Houston Astros skipper Joe Espada wasted no time this week at spring training by answering one of the most talked about questions of the offseason.

Espada revealed that newly-acquired free agent Josh Hader will be the team's closer and will pitch the ninth inning, with Ryan Pressly working as the setup man.

Bryan Abreu will be tapped to pitch the seventh inning, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he had the best season of the three. But after Abreu, things get interesting in the bullpen.

Who pitches the sixth inning?

Astros GM Dana Brown gave Rafael Montero a vote of confidence, saying he's “legit.”

While we have our concerns about Montero after he finished with an ERA over five last year, there's reason for hope. The nature of relief pitchers halving up and down seasons from year to year could work in Montero's favor.

And with the salary that's already committed to him, Brown will likely give him every opportunity to justify his contract. It will be fascinating to see how Espada deploys him early on. You have to think with the boss man backing Montero, Espada will be on board too.

But if he does struggle, will Espada quickly stop using him in critical situations? The good news is, the team won't often have to turn to him in high leverage situations with Abreu, Pressly, and Hader ready to handle those duties.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion about the Astros 'pen, and much more!

Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel!

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