FALCON POINTS

Strangest Kentucky Derby in years will take some creative betting

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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.

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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