The Kentucky Derby, usually a staple on the first Saturday in May, will instead be run on the first Saturday in September due to the Rona outbreak. There will be no fans in the stands, and the favorite, Tiz the Law, enters having already won the Belmont and Travers Stakes. Traditionally, the race is the first test in the Triple Crown. This year, it will be the second, with the Preakness closing things out.
Looking a little ahead, if Tiz the Law wins this, he could be going for the Covid Triple Crown in three weeks at Pimlico, possibly facing off with brilliant filly Gamine if she wins the Oaks on Friday. It would be an incredible matchup that would bring a lot of attention to the race.
But first things first. Tiz the Law has to win the Derby first. He will go into the gate as the shortest price favorite in years, probably lower than his 3-5 morning line. He is proven at the distance, has won six of his seven starts including five in a row and towers above a field that frankly isn't very good. If you are taking a shot against him, your one selling point is his only loss came as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs, site of the Derby.
Art Collector was going to take a lot of money, but he is sitting out with a minor injury, which leaves really only Honor A.P. (4-1) and Authentic (8-1) as viable options. But Authentic does not seem to want any part of a mile and a quarter, and Honor A.P. just might not be good enough. He was second in his last start in a four-horse field, and his win in the Santa Anita Derby was against six other horses, with only Authentic a real threat in that one.
So making money on the race is going to take some creativity. A long shot to watch is Max Player, who was third twice behind Tiz the Law. He seems to want more distance, has been working well at Churchill and switches to the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen. He is 30-1 in the morning line and should be every bit of that. While it is hard to see anyone beating Tiz the Law, there is no reason Max Player can't out finish the rest of the field.
Some ways to approach the race might include a Tiz the Law with Max Player will ALL trifecta, and a Tiz the Law with ALL with Max Player. If Tiz wins and Max his the board, it could produce a decent payout. I would also consider playing Max Player across the board, weighted heavier toward third and second than first, a strong exacta box with Tiz the Law, and smaller exacta boxes keying Max Player with as many horses as possible first and second just in case something goes wrong with Tiz the Law. That would include horses like the 1-3-5-7-8-9-12-15-16-17-18.
Stay tuned; premium plays (including undercard plays) will be up on pregame later this week. If you need a place to bet, check out BUSR or mybookie. And check back to this article later in the week as things may get adjusted or added based on scratches or news.
As of now, the weather forecast looks good, so it should be a fast track, but keep an eye out for updates.
Good luck on your wagers.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.