PLAYING THE PONIES

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Wednesday, Feb. 19

Here are my selections for Wednesday 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

4-5-1-2
LUCKY QUEEN takes a big class drop for a high percentage barn


SECOND
2-7-3-4
GOLIATH RIDGE was well back in meet debut but could pop in this spot


THIRD

6-3-4-1
REAL DE JALPA had a string of solid efforts at Hawthorne before last; back to dirt


FOURTH
4-11-1-2
TJB OORAH should improve off of even debut; Kitten's Joys usually love the grass


FIFTH
2-10-6-5
JESSICA'S ARCH has solid efforts vs. open company in New Mexico and solid record at SHRP

SIXTH
3-2-10-8
FIREWATER JAKE has some big efforts on tough circuits


SEVENTH
7-2-1-6
Lightly raced LONG WEEKEND has some sharp works for 2020 debut


EIGHTH
7-1-9-2
TOUCH EM UP did not show much at Oaklawn but prior races put him in the mix


NINTH
10-13-6-3
BRENDAS AN I FULL should be very tough if this stays on the grass


TENTH
1-6-10-3

CHACHING BLING has solid works, hot trainer and win early sire for debut


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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Thurs, Sept. 24 - HOU: Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33) vs. TEX: Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53)

Fri, Sept. 25 - HOU: Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78) vs. TEX: Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53)

Sat, Sept. 26 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.87)

Sun, Sept. 27 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07)

STORYLINES

Season finale - The Astros will wrap up their regular season with their four game set in Arlington at the new Globe Life Field. Houston's magic number rests at two, as the Angels still have a puncher's chance. With Houston's miserable 8-20 road record, the postseason is anything but clinched.

Where's the offense? - The Astros offense has left a lot to be desired over the last few weeks, scoring more than three runs just twice in their last ten games. The bats really need to get going, especially if the team expects to do anything in the playoffs. George Springer has been the only reliable bat of late, with the performances of Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and, most of all, Jose Altuve, leaving a lot to be desired.

Playoff seeding - If the playoffs started today, the Astros would face off with their division rivals in Oakland. There's an infinite number of possibilities over the next four games, but the Astros can see themselves finish anywhere from the fifth seed to out of the playoffs entirely. Any of Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland could be first round foes depending on how the cards fall.

PREDICTION

Lance Lynn has been one of the better pitchers in the game for a few years now, Kyle Cody is an intriguing young arm with good stuff, and Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson gave the Astros fits in Houston just last week. It isn't a recipe for success for Houston. The Astros win 1 of 4, which combined with the Angels and Mariners failing to take care of business, is enough to get Houston into the playoffs.

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