Playing the ponies

Saturday is Derby Day! Well, Arkansas Derby Day. And here are some plays

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Saturday was supposed to be an epic day. The Kentucky Derby followed by a Shinedown Concert at Revention Music Center. Obviously, the Rona had other plans. Still, it has a chance to be a hell of a day. The Arkansas Derby will be run today in two divisions at Oaklawn Park, and the Oaklawn Handicap will also be run. In addition, we will be hosting the last of our charity poker tournaments.

If you are looking for some horse action, we have some plays on the three big races at Oaklawn. While there are no online sites in Texas, you can use offshore sites such as mybookie.ag and betusracing.

So if you are so inclined, here are some plays for Saturday. These are done for a fast track. The weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies but there should be no rain. If so we will update this.

Disclaimer: Nobody bats .1000 on horse racing. I look for live horses at decent prices. If we hit one of these, we're probably profiting. More than one? We will be very happy. So here we go.

ARKANSAS DERBY DIVISION 1 (Race 11 on the card)

It will be very hard to get around the probable odds-on favorite, Charlatan. He is unbeaten in two very fast starts and has all the look of the next Bob Baffert superstar. The second favorite, Gouverneur Morris, might have the best shot at an upset. He was a good fourth in the Florida Derby behind Tiz the Law, perhaps the division leader. Anneau d'Or offers some value at 6-1; his last race was an unmitigated disaster but prior to that he proved he belonged at this level. Crypto Cash and Basin are big long shots that could have an impact.

It will be hard to make much off this, especially if Charlatan is the real deal. We will play some exactas, 1 with 4-8-10-11 and hope we get one of our prices home.

If you want to take a stab against him, I would consider keying the 4 with 1-8-10-11 and 1-8-10-11 with 4 in exactas, but you are probably wasting money.

OAKLAWN HANDICAP (Race 12 on the card)

This is a wide open, competitive race, but I do like a horse with decent odds: No. 4 Mr. Freeze at 6-1. While he is probably better going a mile, he has been competitive at this distance. His losses have come against some of the best in the country in Tom's D'Etat and Mucho Gusto. Would feel better if he had a race over the Oaklawn surface, but he should get a nice trip on or near the lead and I expect him to be in the mix. Beyond that, it is a crap shoot. I will be playing at least one 4-all and all-4 exacta tickets. I will also narrow it down a little and take 4 with 2-3-5-6-8-9-12 and 2-3-5-6-8-9-12 with 4.

Another massive price horse I think has a shot in here is the 8 at 20-1 morning line. He will have to come out of the clouds, but he has been very good in two Oaklawn starts, and almost every horse his trainer sends out these days runs big. I will play weighted win/place/show wagers on him. An example would be based on a $100 bankroll: $50 to show, $30 to place, $20 to win. Obviously you can do it for $10 and go $5, $3, $2, or whatever you want based on how much you are playing. I think he has a much better chance of running third than first, hence the weighted wager.

ARKANSAS DERBY DIVISION 2 (Race 13 on the card)

Nadal is unbeaten and will be a strong favorite. However, I think we can take a shot at beating him. He will face some pace pressure from Wells Bayou, and the hope is these two hook up and battle early, setting it up for a long shot closer. The horse we will use is No. 10 Farmington Road at 12-1. We will bet him much like the eight horse in the prior race, with show/place/win bets weighted with more bet to show and place.

In addition, we will wheel him top and bottom in exactas with a few other contenders. So exactas 10 with 1-3-4-5-7-11 and 1-3-4-5-7-11 with 10. We are banking on a speed duel here, which should set it up for Farmington Road. If it doesn't develop you can probably tear your virtual tickets up on the back stretch.

STARTER ALLOWANCE (Race 14 on the card)

I added this race because it is the last of the Oaklawn meet and one of my favorite races every year; a mile and three quarters starter allowance. Not overthinking things here; I like Carlos Sixes at 4-1. He has won three races and just missed in his fourth at the meet. I will bet him across the board, and wheel him top and bottom in exactas with the field (5-all, all with 5).

Good luck!

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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