PLAYING THE PONIES

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Wednesday, March 17

Bigger Picture won Sunday's Connally Turf Cup. Coady photography

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
6-1-7-3
GOLIATH RIDGE keeps getting closer and might finally break through


SECOND
2-6-1-5
LEMON ROSES should thrive with added distance and offers good value


THIRD

1-7-4-2
GAME SET AND MATCH has been OK in last two vs. better


FOURTH
8-7-2-3
BRENDA'S AN I FULL should be tough if race stays on turf


FIFTH
2-9-10-8
JUDY'S PRIZE was in tough in last and could pop at a price

SIXTH
6-1-3-4
KATE'S SECOND SILVER should be competitive in this spot


SEVENTH
3-9-11-10
MILLI STAR could offer some nice value; should do well at this distance


EIGHTH
7-6-8-1
MISS FUNNY GUN plunges in class and that should do the trick


NINTH
3-7-5-4
BANDY'S MAP gets in for a tag and should improve here


TENTH
4-6-7-3
BLACKROCK CASTLE could thrive with the surface switch and stretch out

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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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