Playing the ponies

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

Getty Images

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!

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

UH is off to a great start! Photo courtesy of UH athletics.

After what seemed to be an eternity, the University of Houston Men's Basketball program finally returned to the hardwood on Wednesday, November 25th. The Cougars started this season as the 17th ranked team in the country and looked to carry over their winning ways from lasts year's COVID-19 shorted season.

The Cougars ignited their season with a home victory against Lamar University on Wednesday. This was also the Cougars' first game since securing a victory over Memphis at the Fertitta Center on March 8 to clinch the American Athletic Conference regular-season title. Sophomore Marcus Sasser scored 25 points, and freshman forward Tramon Mark added 22 points and eight rebounds to push the Cougars to a blowout victory of 89-45 over the Lamar Cardinals. Although this game wasn't close, it showcased Houston's three best attributes: defending, rebounding and taking care of the ball. This game turned out to be a good tune-up in preparation for the Cougar's next two opponents, and showed just how dominant this team could be on the defensive end.

Their next game proved to a little more challenging against the Boise State Broncos. The Cougars led 11-9 midway through the first half before going on a 21-5 run resulting in a 34-19 lead at halftime. This run was a result of the Cougars once again showcasing their best attribute, defense. One example was DeJon Jarreau, a 6-5 senior guard, who shut down last year's Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Boise State's Derrick Alston Jr. Alston, who was held scoreless the entire game. Coach Kelvin Sampson said Jarreau's defense set the tone for the Cougars.

"He wanted that assignment," Sampson said. "He embraced that challenge. You could tell he was ready to go. DeJon is a competitor and a tough kid."

It wasn't an entire defensive showcase, for Quinton Grimes (last years second leading scorer for the Cougars) scored a game high 25 points for the Cougars, and once again, the Cougars had a 20 point lead in two consecutive games.

Boise State did make things interesting down the stretch. The Broncos went on an 18-5 run to cut a 20- point deficit to seven points with 2:26 left to go in the second half. But, Houston made nine straight free throws (15-of-17 for the game) down the stretch to secure a 68-58 victory over the Broncos.

The Cougars headed up to Fort Worth to play their most anticipated matchup so far against the 14th ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders.

This was the first meeting between the two schools in six years, and is the third straight neutral-site meeting between the former Southwest Conference opponents. There was a red and black-heavy presence of a pandemic-limited crowd at Dickies Arena, which provided a good ambience for a pseudo Texas Tech home game. It didn't seem to affect the Cougars, they got off to a fast start and took a big lead.

Houston went on a 21-4 run in the first half and Texas Tech went more than six minutes without a single field goal during that stretch. The Cougars' stifling defense was once again the best part of their game (sensing a trend?). Houston limited the Red Raiders' to 33.3 percent shooting and forced 12 turnovers in the first half. Sasser, for the second time in three games, was the leading scorer for the Cougars. He hit a big time 3 that gave the Cougars a 20 point lead with 12:27 left in the game.

Texas Tech wouldn't go away quietly though. They went on an 11-0 run in the second half and brought the Red Raiders back to within 55-48. Their comeback was short-lived, for Tech never got closer than seven points behind the Cougars and couldn't take advantage of some Cougar offensive mishaps. Houston's offensive woes continued throughout the second half, but they established such a commanding lead early on that Texas Tech didn't have enough time to overcome this deficit.

It is worth mentioning that the last 12 1/2 minutes of the game was atrocious for the Cougar's offense. They went 1-12 from the field, but timely free throws was their key to keeping the lead manageable. The Cougars scored their last 11 points on free throws, going 11 of 14 from the line over the final 6:43 of the game.

The final score was 64-53 and the Cougars are 3-0 to start the season. After this victory, the Cougars are now ranked number 10 in the latest AP College basketball poll.

Key to all 3 victories

One Thing To Note: In all three games this season, Houston held their opponents scoring to under 20 points in the first half. Lamar, Boise State, and Texas Tech have all combined to shot 27.4 percent and Houston has committed 31 turnovers.
Offense wins games, and defense wins championships. If that motto is true, the Cougars have a bright future ahead of them this season.

The Cougars have a few days off before their next game at home against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, December 5th.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome