Friday, May 18, 2018

2018 Black Eyed Susan Picks and analysis

Odd field in the Fillies main race today but here are my thoughts and picks, as well as my picks for the remaining races today...

1. Tell Your Mama (20/1)

2. Midnight Disguise (4/1) (Scratched)

3. Coach Rocks (7/2)

4. Red Ruby (5/1)

5. Mihrab (30/1)

6. C.S. Incharge (15/1)

7. Goodonehoney (5/1)

8. Indy Union (10/1)

9. Sara Street (4/1)

10. Stakes On A Plane (20/1)

Most of the analysis that I've seen has this coming down to either Sara Street, or Midnight Disguise with Coach Rocks possibly upsetting the apple cart.

I'm leaning toward a $10 win bet on the 9 but using the 4, Red Ruby in a $5 Exacta Box with the same. I'm going to bet a $1 Tri Box with 4-7-8-9 to try and sweep up the minor placings. Even though she's lightly raced the 7 Goodonehoney has won both of her starts by a combined 11 3/4 lengths so I don't think you can leaver her totally out of your exotics. I'm leaving Coach Rocks out however, thinking that the morning line (slight) favorite here is only getting a bump because she raced in the KY Oaks. The problem is she finished seventh in that race and really didn't have any trip issues to complain about, she was just outran. She won the Gulfstream Oaks in a TOUGH race and I'm wondering just how much that took out of her. If she beats me, she beats me. I'm OK with that.

Here are my thoughts on the remaining races today (at the time I post this, I'm sitting out race 8 because my top two choices scratched out.)

Race 9: 3 - Rated R Superstar. - Won its last race at a slightly shorter distance but appears to be a horse on the come. I also like the 1- Irish War Cry but he's let me down a LOT in the past. Still, I'll probably put $5 bucks on him to win as a long shot play because he was my horse his 3yo season.

Race 10: 5 - Vici - Admittedly a bit of a reach here as this horse is stepping up in class but is a gutty performer who has only finished off the board twice in the last two years. And I LOVE the pickup of jockey Jose Ortiz here.

Race 11: The Black-Eyed Susan (see above)

Race 12: No Bet. Again, so many scratches (including my favorite) and I'm unenthused about what remains.

Race 13: 1. Furiously Kissed - This is a hard race to handicap as the field consists of a LOT of horses who have a habit of finishing 2nd or 3rd against stakes level company. Despite the long price (14-1) I think Furiously Kissed has the best competition in her rearview mirror and I have a habit of jumping on Javier Castellano mounts at anything over 10-1.

Races 14-18: No bets. There are eighteen(!!!) races on today's card. Good luck to you if you're betting all of them but the last five are those weird optional claiming races that seem to be almost impossible to handicap. Also, it's a sloppy track and their are a ton of scratches in some. I'll bet my 7 above and enjoy the last part of the card while grilling tonight in advance of the Vegas Golden Knights game.

Good luck however you bet.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

2018 Preakness Stakes: Justify and the rest?

It's time for the 2nd Jewel of the Triple Crown and we're only talking about eight horses this time and not 20. (Thank Goodness)

Justifiably, Justify will be the hyped horse after his impressive win in the slop at Churchill. It's supposed to be rainy again at Pimlico so many of the same handicapping plays work here as well.

Handicapping this race comes down to whether or not you're a believer in the big colt or no.

Here's the field with post positions, morning line odds, jockeys, and my thoughts on the field.

Quip 12-1 F. Giroux  - Qualified for the KY Derby via his Tampa Bay Derby win, but his connections decided to wait for the Preakness which they feel is a better fit for him.

Lone Sailor 15-1 I. Ortiz - Finished eighth in the KY Derby, wasn't really a factor but didn't run poorly.  Would need to improve massively to compete here

Sporting Chance 30-1 L. Contreras - Finished 4th in the Pat Day Mile. Speed horse from D. Wayne Lukas who might be looking to set a hot pace for Bravazo to try and sweep up.

Diamond King 30-1 J. Castellano - Winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes, the Preakness prep race for local horses in Maryland

Good Magic 3-1  J. Ortiz  -  Ran second in the KY Derby losing to Justify by 2 1/2 weeks. Unusual move for trainer Chad Brown to make the Derby/Preakness turnaround so he might bear taking a close look at.
 
Tenfold 20-1 V. Espinoza - Didn't qualify for the Derby on points and ran poorly against Grade 1 competition. Will need to improve mightily to figure in the top placings.

Justify 1-2 M. Smith - KY Derby winner. Same story in the Preakness as the Derby, you either believe in Justify, or you don't. I do.  He will be my key horse.

Bravazo 20-1 L. Saez - Ran a respectable 5th in the KY Derby.  A purse closer which is why I think the entrance of Sporting Chance by trainer D. Wayne Lukas (who also trains Bravazo) is notable

Good luck however you bet this race.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Stop Trying to Become Gambling "Experts" Local Media.

Because you're not.

Gambling Point Spreads for Every 2018 Texans Game. Matt Young. Chron.com

"Las Vegas has a positive view of the Texans overall. The Texans are underdogs in just four games all season, which would put them in strong contention to bounce back and win the AFC South."

Let's talk about point spreads for a minute, and what they really mean.

When "Vegas" (or, more accurately, the offshore books) create point spreads they are NOT saying which team they believe is going to win the game. This is the most common misconception in sports betting and it's also one of the most mis-reported "facts" among non-gambling sports reporters.

What "Vegas" is really doing is figuring out where they need to establish a number in order to get the action to fall as close to 50/50 as possible on either side of the ledger.  Because the sports books always understand that they have the vigorish on their side. IF they can get the line correct they'll make money both on losing bettors, and on the Vig coming back to them when they pay out less than true odds.

So, what these lines REALLY mean is not that "Vegas" is bullish on the Texans but that they believe the public will be and are setting things up accordingly.  IF the Texans continue to come in as favorites as the games get closer, and too much money is bet either way, these lines will change in an attempt to balance out the betting.

Vegas, unlike local media, are agnostic regarding who wins and loses each individual game (the lone exception to this being the Golden Knights right now) what they really want is to not have too much exposure to the "wrong side".

Once you understand this fact you'll understand lines all the more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Don't Blame Golden State (or Kevin Durant) for The Warriors being unbeatable.

Blame the rest of the NBA.

Last night Houston Rockets fans (self included) received a tough, bitter dose of reality.


They're nowhere near as good as the Golden State Warriors.


Neither is anyone else in the NBA.  The easy road is to lay the blame on Superstar, and all-around bad guy, Kevin Durant but that's not really fair.  Durant did what any player should do, go to the team that was offering him a crap-ton of money where he had the best chance to win a title.  Golden State did what any team should do, build a roster that gives them the best chance to win.

The fault for Golden State's dominance lies with the rest of the NBA, who haven't been able to negotiate the maze of the salary cap nearly as well.

Yes, outside of Stephan Curry the Warriors are an utterly unlikable collection of players (unless you're a Golden State fan).  Draymond Green is a jerk, Kevin Durant is utterly unlikable, but every team in the NBA has players like that.  Hell, every team in professional sports has players who are the same.

As a 49ers fan I lived through the Terrell Owens days. Yes he was a prick but he was OUR prick. It's the same for Golden State fans. The rest of the NBA fans might not like their players, but it doesn't really matter because the home fans do and they're winning.

James Harden is a flopper, but he's HOUSTON's flopper.

Russell Westbrook is a Prima Donna, but he's OKLAHOMA CITY's Prima Donna.

And so on and so on.

(Of note: This doesn't mean that these players are necessarily bad PEOPLE, I'm referring to their image ON THE COURT. I don't know them in person and neither do you, they might be kind, caring sweethearts of human beings for all we know)

The biggest problem that the NBA has right now is that they are extremely top heavy.  There is a ton of individual talent but few real TEAMS, let alone teams that can compete with the best of the bunch, the Golden State Warriors.

This was on display last night as Golden State moved the ball around with quick passing, excellent ball movement and, when need be, a great individual performance by Durant. Compare that with Houston's isolation dribble, dribble drive or shoot offense based primarily around Harden and the issue becomes very clear.

And it's not Golden State's fault.  Just like it wasn't UConn's fault they dominated women's basketball, or UCLA's fault back during the Wooden era.

In the words of the great Ric Flair: "To be the man, you gotta beat the man."

Increasingly it feels that no one in the NBA is going to be able to do that.


Bring on the off-season. (It's more fun anyway)




Louisiana Rejects Sports Betting Bill

Given the state and nature of Louisiana politics, I'm not surprised.

Louisiana lawmakers reject bill to authorize sports betting. WWLTV.com

For a state that has horse racing and full casino gambling the "expansion of gambling" argument rings a bit hollow.  More likely the financial structure of the bill wasn't to the liking of the legislators in a State that's governed more poorly than Texas. (Who would have thought that was possible?)

As it is I think something will eventually be passed, once sufficient money is placed in the politician's troughs.

Will Texans Be Able To Bet on Sports in Texas Now?

In a word.  No.

Odds Still Against Expanding Gambling in Texas. Houston Chronicle

In gambling terms, I'd put set the opening line as follows:

No change in Texas Gaming Laws:  -15000
A change in Texas Gaming Laws:  +17000

In short, it's not going to happen.

Nor, under this candidate's framework, do I think it should:

(from the article linked above)

"My first priority is looking out for everyday Texans to make sure they have the good government they deserve," Valdez said. 
"I believe decisions about whether or not to have gambling in our communities should be left up to Texans. This could include lifting the state ban on sports betting and helping find ways for local communities to decide their own laws and policies. Any revenue from gambling in Texas should go towards education and public services that help working Texans and not as a way to pay for handouts to big corporations." (Bolded emphasis mine)

That sounds an awful lot like State ran gaming to me (think the lottery, but with betting terminals) and that is a decisive nightmare.  Nor do I think that Texas absolutely has to loosen the shackles on gaming at all.  For one thing, I'm pretty sure the collection of low-functioning idiots that we have representing us in Texas would a) get it wrong and b) screw up the enforcement mechanism for compliance so badly that we'd have another TABC on our hands.

I know, I know, I write a gambling (centric) blog so why am I not all-in on Texas gaming?  Isn't that hypocritical?  Not really.

You see, I USED to think that Texas should open up the gates and bring Texas into the 21st century when it comes to vices.  This was back in the days when I was politically active, voted and all of the other stuff that makes one a "good citizen".

After years of dealing with the government, and meeting government officials I have zero faith in any politician from the Lone Star State to "get it right" so to speak.  I'm especially against Ms. Valdez' plan which removes the profit principle from gaming and would ensure a pretty crappy end-product.

IF I was to get behind any proposal it would be to allow on-line wagering on horses and sports only. No casino gaming period, although I might be open to allowing slot machines at race tracks because there is already gaming that occurs there.

But I doubt we're going to get that because, predictions of a blue wave notwithstanding, I think the November election cycle is going to be another river of woe for Texas Democrats, despite the hopeful writings of a certain Houston Chronicle political columnist who fancies herself conservative (when it suits her).

As long as Republicans pull the levers of power in Texas in-State gaming expansion is going to be a non-starter. Given that the State Government at all levels has lost the ability to function I'm pretty sure this is a good thing.

Although I've a feeling you could make some good money this year fading the Texans, you'll probably have to (eventually) drive to either Louisiana or Oklahoma to do it.

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