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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Correa could be on his way out. Composite image by Jack Brame.

It has not been the best of times to be a star athlete in Houston. In the last year, Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins were solid off for a warm bucket of spit. George Springer won't be back. James Harden and Russell Westbrook rumors are rampant. J.J. Watt might be moving on as well.

Now, reports are the Astros are listening to offers for Carlos Correa.

Predictably, Astros fans are livid. And if it's true, they should be concerned about the bigger picture.

Trading Correa makes sense - if you have no plans on keeping him after next season, as was clearly the case with Springer. If the Astros can get a haul and replenish the farm system, it would be the right move, especially considering Correa's injury history.

But in the long run, it does not bode well for the direction of the team. All recent indications are that the Astros are going cheap.

They would still be a competitive team without Correa, but it would be yet another indication their World Series window has closed. Alex Bregman could slide over to shortstop, but who would play third? And they only have one starting outfielder on the roster as it is. Putting together a competitive lineup around Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez would still be possible, but if the Astros aren't going to spend money, that could be problematic.

The writing was probably on the wall when the team hired James Click as GM from the notoriously frugal Tampa Bay organization. The good news is the Rays have been successful. But this is a new direction for a team that was not afraid to spend big money to make runs at the World Series.

If they lose Correa, they lose a team leader, one of the few players who embraced the villain role in the wake of the cheating controversy and was not afraid to speak out. But he has never lived up to his MVP potential, has battled injuries and will command big dollars on the open market. He is still young enough to become that kind of player, and someone will gamble big money that he will.

Sadly, if this rumor is true, it won't be the Astros.

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