TRIPLE CROWN BETTING

Who wins the Preakness? Let's take a stab with a long shot

Saturday's Preakness Stakes probably will not be the train wreck that the Kentucky Derby was, but there is still some interest and a chance to make money. (Here is a look at the entire field).

My premium plays are available at pregame.com.


THE CONTENDERS

My top pick is No. 2 Bourbon War, who finished fourth in the Florida Derby. He should get a nice pace to run at, should be sitting on his best effort and will be more than a fair price. I was a big fan of his second in the Fountain of Youth, and willing to toss his Florida Derby fourth due to the slow pace. I think he will be closer to what should be an honest pace, and should kick home nicely. He did not have enough points to get him in the Derby, so he sat that one out in hopes of winning here. I think he is live and 12-1 is probably close to what we will get on race day.

Other horses to watch include War of Will, Improbable, Owendale, Always Mining, Laughing Fox, Anothertwistafate and Win Win Win. War of Will and Improbable figure to take most of the money coming off decent efforts in the Derby, but both are vulnerable. Always Mining is an interesting Maryland-based runner who is taking a big step up in class but really does not have a lot to beat here to be competitive. We liked Win Win Win in Kentucky and will throw another few bucks at him. The main plays will be to key Bourbon War first and second with the other contenders in exactas and trifectas.

ON THE UNDERCARD

I don't have a pick 4 play, because I could not narrow down the three races leading in to the Preakness. However, there is one long shot I am playing in race 12, right before the Preakness. I like No. 3 Admission Office at 12-1. I will play the horse across the board, and wheel him in exactas first and second with the rest of the field. If you want to take a shot with the double, take the 3 with the eight contenders listed above.

Also in Race 10, I am playing the 1 horse across the board.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I am all in on Bourbon War. We are now 1 for our last 7 on Triple Crown tris after a 9 of 12 streak. I feel pretty good about this one so good luck to us.

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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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