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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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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