Belmont Stakes Predictions 2019

I’m still amazed War of Will won the Preakness. I didn’t see it coming. So bear that level of prognosticatin’ genius in mind as I make my picks for the final leg in this year’s Triple Crown races, Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

My general rule is to throw out any horse that ran in the Preakness when they have to run against some killer route runners that have gotten a lot more rest. I made exceptions when I (along with many others) correctly picked the recent Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify, or when I woulda picked I’ll Have Another if he’d run the Belmont. So when I tell you that #9 War Of Will at the opening line of 2-1 is totally beatable, it’s NOT because I’m still whinin’ over missing the Preakness, I’m simply applying a proven historic standard that horses who have run in the Preakness (AND the Derby in this case) don’t muster the energy against fresh horses of a similar class.

So who is left? Well, the opening line favorite at 9-5, #10 Tacitus is a good bet to win it. I picked him as a possibility in the Derby, and he did decently down the stretch to come in 4th (oh EXCUSE me, 3rd thanks to disqualification, that LAME disqualification…. and I call it lame since I picked that horse to win. You can’t fault me for honesty.).

But checking the numbers, I gotta say that Tacitus is beatable here, and I can point to two strong possibles to do it: The first is another Derby runner who was gaining on all of ’em down the stretch and given another 1/4 mile, the grueling length of the Belmont, had an excellent chance of catching & overtaking Tacitus – #3 Master Fencer, opening at a nice 8-1, though I’d expect that to fall to 4-1 or 9-2 by post time. He’s mostly raced in Japan and not at this distance, but he’s got the speed and class, and it looks like they’re stretching him out a bit by looking at the works. If he and Tacitus run similar to how they did in the Derby, and that was on a sloppy track – this time we’ll get a fast one – Master Fencer should outrun him in the end.

My other possible is #7 Sir Winston. While he’s never really competed at this level, he’s the only horse in the field to achieve the speed figures usually associated with winners of this race, albeit at the G3 level Peter Pan stakes last month. He had veteran Joel Rosario in the saddle for that one, and Rosario is on him again this time. This horse closes… and while he lost earlier in the year to Tacitus, much like Master Fencer in the Derby, he was gaining on him and had a real shot at overtaking him had the distance been longer. And he’s 12-1 on the opening line, maybe 8-1 by post time.

So it all comes down to whether or not Tacitus can maintain the lead down that long distance, or be caught by #3 or #7, in my opinion. I’ll probably wuss out and do a trifecta box of them. This field doesn’t look like it will yield monster pools & payouts on all the exotics, so I’ll probably just limit myself to a “let’s see if I just get it right this time” type bet.

And yeah, I might throw War of Will in there on the exotics, but not to win.

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Weekend Entertainment for May 25-27, 2019

Some books and movies to discuss this Memorial Day weekend, thanks to several days of clouds ‘n’ drizzle that kept me inside most of the time. So while I’m letting a seasoned porterhouse come to room temperature before I sizzle it up for dinner (I posted a wonderful steak recipe & method here), I’ll tell ya about them.

I knocked off a couple of Hollywood gossipy quasi-bios this weekend, starting out with the one I grabbed a week back aong with a nice haul of other volumes at a big annual library sale – George Jacobs’ Mr. S – My Life With Frank Sinatra. Jacobs was Sinatra’s personal valet from the early 1950s to 1968, the PERFECT time to get all the dish ‘n’ dirt about bad marriages, Rat Pack Tales, the prime years of his music (if you ask me), dalliances with the Kennedys, and so forth. Jacobs mostly focuses on the sex lives of everyone he discusses, so this one was a very entertaining page turner. Sinatra would be incredibly loyal, sentimental and generous to people he liked, and could turn on a dime if he felt betrayed, cutting people completely out of his life & taking the grudge to his grave. Jacobs incurred Frank’s wrath by dancing with Mia Farrow at a Hollywood club, setting off gossip and rumors about affairs and such…. all perfectly innocent in Jacobs’ version, but Frank could never ever forgive the other men who he thought had eyes on “his” women – most often Ava Gardner, who he never could get over – but also the mismatched Farrow. Jacobs spins wonderful anecdotes – little wisps of his observations of Sinatra, and none of ’em disappoint. When I picked it up at the library sale and flipped through it to see if it’d be worth reading, every page I landed on contained another story about Frank getting pissed off at something or someone, smashing a phone, kicking a car radio, or threatening to kill himself – and I said “SOLD!” It was certainly a must-read item, an entertaining behind-the-scenes description of truly monstrous behavior towards people and especially lovers by the overly entitled – just perfect to make me feel both morally superior AND entertained.

Continue reading “Weekend Entertainment for May 25-27, 2019”

Preakness 2019 Predictions

After that debacle of a Kentucky Derby, perhaps we can begin anew with some Preakness handicapping, eh?

Not that I was too wrong in my Derby predictions, picking Maximum Security to win before that lame disqualification. But I would have messed up my combos regardless, with 2 long shots running into the money and knocking some my other horses down to 4, 5, and 6.

I’m always less excited about the Preakness, to be honest. Fewer horses, smaller pools, and in way too many years a lopsided favorite destroying any chance of decent payoffs on combos.

But not this year! The Derby Champ and REAL Derby Champ aren’t in it, a few other horses dropped, and our favorite, Baffert’s Improbable, is opening at 5-2 and will probably go up as other horses, like the ones I’m about to mention, come down.

So I might put some other combos together, or I might just stick with the two horses I think have a really good shot at winning it despite their lack of experience at this class level.

My top choice is #7 Alwaysmining, winner of his last 6 races by multiple lengths, and whose consistent clock times indicate a strong chance to go gate to wire here. He’s in great form, got some killer workouts… the only caveat is a poor trainer record in graded stakes, something this horse has not run. BUT he’s got a good pedigree for stakes winners…. so I’m liking it. He’s 8-1 on the opening line, but expect that to drop to maybe 5-1 or so by post-time.

After that, another non-graded stakes, non-stakes winner of ANY caliber is the increasingly speedy #3 Warrior’s Charge, coming off of 2 straight wins by multiple lengths. Again, great time, solid works, good form… raring to go. And he’s 12-1 opening line, probably knocked down to 8-1 or so by post time.

I think Improbable is a totally beatable favorite here. I also think that other highly-touted horses like War of Will, Win Win Win or Bourbon War don’t have the speed to catch my 2 choices. The other horses I can see vying for money spots might be #5 Owendale at 10-1 opening, #12 Anothertwistafate (although he does MUCH better on artificial surface) and #4 Improbable (not a winner, but I can see him 2, 3 or 4).

If I’m right and it’s 3 or 7 followed by those others, those combos are gonna be worth it, especially if everyone decides they love Improbable enough to knock him down to 2-1 or so. But we’ll see. The weather should be decent, and the track won’t be the mudslide we got at Kentucky.

Here’s hoping we get a winner without the instant replay committee BS. And here’s hoping it’s my horse again.

The Future Is Now: We Are All Saints Fans For 15 Minutes

Welcome to 21st century sports, where the results get to change due to bad calls and committee meetings after the fact.

Maximum Security may have crossed the finish line at the Derby first, but after some interminable review of tape, his move to impede a horse slowing down anyway somehow determines that the 2nd place 65-1 shot Country House gets to win.

Barely a bump. Never affected the 2nd place horse. No one watching those replays would think it changed the outcome of the race.

No matter! Maximum Security gets disqualified!

AND ALL MY TICKETS GO DOWN. (And yes, that’s why I’m really angry).

From the volume & quantity of the booing as they hand out the trophy, I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess the crowd at Churchill Downs feels the same way I do.

Vox populi sez BULLSHIT.

We’ve been treated to horrible reffing during the NBA finals, we got to see the egregious non-call of pass interference knocking the Saints from the Superbowl, we get bad umpiring over balls and strikes every day in baseball.

And we get endless reviews, replays, and bullshit.

Not just in sports, either, we can get it all over. We can have endlessly disputed election results where people refuse to concede, or public policies bounced around friendly and unfriendly judges at different court levels, criminal sentences thrown out the window, juries ignored, conspiracy theories abounding and accepted as fact by idiots… you name it.

Nothing is allowed to be a mutually agreed upon outcome. Nothing.

It’s all about endless hot take debates and arguing, and if someone’s argument rubs you the wrong way, well, just deplatform them or disqualify them and then claim you won.

Granted, most of my bets would have gone down the toilet with the longshot Country House placing 2nd, but COULDN’T I JUST GET MY 9/2 WIN BET, YOU FRIGGIN BASTARDS??? (Yes, that’s the TRUE reason for this rant).

Bah.

Kentucky Derby 2019 Predictions

I’ve been on a self-imposed break from horse betting for some months now. It’s partly a resting-on-my-laurels feeling after finally hitting a Pick 6 at Santa Anita last fall, along with a hesitation to go back to betting Santa Anita during their recent tragic Winter meet which featured so many mysterious horse deaths that racing got suspended for weeks on end.

But now it’s the first Saturday in May, and that means the Kentucky Derby.

And when you’re talkin’ a 20+ horse race with pools the size of oceans, I’ll set aside those Pick 6 laurels and venture back into handicapping the thing and seeing if I can put together some winning tickets. I did well with last year’s race and again with the Belmont (the Preakness always disappoints me from a betting standpoint) so here we go again for 2019.

The original opening favorite, Omaha Beach, has been scratched, making the race more interesting on a lot of levels. I’d originally had Omaha Beach among my possible winners, and his absence doesn’t simply bump everyone else up a notch since horses who have raced against each other before or are next to each other at the outset and so forth sometimes personally duel within a race, and with him gone, all of that strategery went out the window. Went back and ‘capped the race a 2nd time.

On top of that, it’s supposed to rain all day in Kentucky on Saturday, so I’d expect a muddy track. Went back over it all AGAIN.

And here’s the result: I think #7 Maximum Security has a real shot at victory with Omaha Beach on the sideline. Maximum Security is undefeated in 4 races, steadily improving (most recently winning the Florida Derby), and demonstrates speed and class numbers superior to the majority of the field. Opening line on him is also 10-1, but expect that to drop to 9/2 or the like, he might even wind up the post time favorite. He runs just as well in the mud, too.

The other two horses I’d put in the can-win-it category are #5 Improbable and #17 Roadster, two of the three Bob Baffert entries in the race. Improbable has faster speed than Roadster, whose form has been improving enough to overtake the other Baffert entry right next to him, #16 Game Winner. Roadster overtook Game Winner from behind to win the Santa Anita Derby, and Improbable finished 2nd to Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby. But what makes me think they might all be battling for 2nd place is how they have been placing 2nd since returning from layoffs. Third-after-layoff is a legendary handicapping item to look for, and that gives us both Game Winner & Improbable… while Roadster has been a winner both times after layoff, albeit with Mike Smith as jockey, not Florent Geroux, who hasn’t won with Baffert this year.

Roadster seems to have the best shot here, I’d put Improbable next and then Game Winner.

The other horses I’ll throw into possible trifecta and superfecta combos: #6 Vekoma and #8 Tacitus, both speedy enough to keep up with my top horses, but less likely to close at the end.

So there you go, the half-dozen best I can cull from my figurin’. I feel rich enough with my Pick 6 money to box some combo bets with ’em all, since it looks like the odds indicate larger pools in those exotics than in more recent years where a runaway favorite didn’t disappoint.

So crank up those mint juleps! Will it be bad karma for me if I drink my preferred Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey on Derby day? I like it better than Kentucky bourbon, sorry. Though my favorite brand of rye comes from Kentucky. Maybe I’ll have that for good luck.

And maybe I’ll start now.

And Now Judge

FIRE. THE. TRAINING. STAFF. NOW!!!!!

Left oblique injury. From SWINGING THE BAT AT THE PLATE.

Gee, good thing he doesn’t have to do that every game, huh?

He’s off to an MRI, and then to the injured list, along with practically the rest of the starting lineup.

And just to reassure us that this crap will continue, the Yankee announcers kept pushing their PR BS on how the Yankee Organization and the Steinbrenners would most CERTAINLY make sure the training regimens were state-of-the-art top-of-the-line bla bla bla so on and so forth.

Yeah, guys. It’s just bad luck. Bad luck over and over and over again with every player in the roster. Injuries resulting not from collisions or running into the wall, or getting beaned on a bone, but from SWINGING THE BAT, RUNNING INTO BASES or PITCHING BASEBALLS.

YOU STUPID BRAIN-DEAD PR FLACK SUCKUP MORONS.

Oh, and Aaron Boone still sucks as manager and also ought to be fired. The Red Sox being worse doesn’t excuse him either.

Ah yes, the Steinbrenners and the vaunted Yankee organization… they’d NEVER spend their enormous amounts of money on garbage would they? That certainly never happened with any of several dozen free agents over the years, huh?

Here’s a story: My dad had a longtime friend who made decent dough, and spent a lot of it on a spiffy new Jaguar luxury car. I certainly never got to see this car and I’m not sure my dad ever did either, since it was ALWAYS in the shop for repairs.

You know what you do when you have money and get stuck with a car like that, despite it’s impressive brand?

YOU BUY A DIFFERENT GOD DAMNED CAR.

FIRE. THE. TRAINING. STAFF. NOW!!!!!!



The New York Yankees Need Fixing Fast

And the doctor is in.

The Yankees, projected by many & hoped by me to win the AL East and beyond this year, have begun the 2019 season in a seemingly permanent state of suck.

They’ve been lucky (so far) that the Red Sox have followed suit, although today’s first 2019 match-up between the two makes me think that the Yankees will do their damndest to help the Sox out of their slump and send them off to the races after Tampa Bay. The Yankees’ problems boil down to two major categories: (1) Injuries and (2) Lackluster play.

Let’s start with (1) – since the end of spring break, the Yankees have lost to injuries: their #1 starting pitcher and Cy Young candidate Severino, #1 set-up reliever Bettances, starting center fielder Hicks, starting right fielder/DH MVP Stanton, the ENTIRE INFIELD of Sanchez, Tulowitzki, Gregorius, Andujar and now Bird. We fans get BS reports of 10 day injured list when the problems are clearly months long if not season ending.

Or in the case of Greg Bird’s torn left plantar fascia, possibly career ending. I recently wrote about the plantar fasciitis in my right foot. I just inflamed mine and I can barely walk on it late in the day. Bird tore that ligament in his left?? I’m sorry, but I think the poor guy might be done, and he was one of the players that often had me screaming at the TV for category (2) above.

Andujar rips a labrum in his shoulder sliding into 3rd? Most likely surgery and a season ender. A calf strain takes out Sanchez, a biceps strain takes out Stanton, lat strains have messed up Severino….

So AT WHAT POINT DO YOU FIRE THE TRAINER AND THE TRAINING STAFF?

Continue reading “The New York Yankees Need Fixing Fast”

March Madness, April Yelling At My TV

Evidently I would have notched an early win in my bracket pool had Auburn defeated Virginia, so that non-call on the double dribble and the (admittedly justified) call on the 3 point foul now have me in the position of needing Michigan State to win the whole thing Monday night.

They also had me in the position of screaming obscenities at my TV, but I think my TV is used to that now after the last few Yankee games. I’m sure it forgives me and understands its patient and therapeutic role in what outsiders might view as an abusive relationship, but one my TV understands as monogamous devoted love.

Sorry, Texas Tech, gotta root for Sparty right now! Big money at stake!

The pic is for me downing red wine in advance of dinner. That will ease my annoyance at learning the basketball rule book the same time as the refs.

UPDATE: Well, I might be drinking the rest of that bottle of wine. Along with maybe the rest of the alcohol in the house. It’s Texas Tech v. Virginia on Monday, and my bracket is as dead as a Star Trek red shirt. Bah.

Every Year The Yankees Do This To Me

Injuries, injuries everywhere. What kind of training regimen are these guys on that makes ’em so fragile? The season is only a few games old, and it seems like half the starting lineup is already on the IL or facing end-of-season surgery.

In Spring Training, Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks went down and I’m guessing from all the cryptic garbage we hear on their condition, won’t be back until late May at the earliest. Dellin Bettances out until mid-April. Didi Gregorius gone for most likely the entire season.

And now, Giancarlo Stanton out for a week with a biceps injury, and FAR worse, Miguel Andujar, last year’s shoulda-been rookie of the year, gets a torn up right shoulder that might require season ending surgery.

Last year it was Aaron Judge out for six weeks. Jordan Montgomery out for Tommy John surgery (hopefully back this summer).

These guys seem like they’re made of paper maché and glass. What gives? After a weekend of watching college kids take body-slam spills to the hardwood floor and get right back up again in the NCAAs (except for that poor kid on Auburn who ripped his ACL), why are baseball players so damn delicate?

Yeah, I know… maybe the call-ups from AAA like Frazier and Wade and German can become another Andujar-esque surprise, but I’m not holding my breath. They got a relatively easy schedule to start the season – only a 2 game Red Sox series and a series with the Astros loom large alongside teams like Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, the Angels and San Francisco… but how many holes can be filled at once?

Though somehow, watching Sonny Gray have a classic Sonny Gray Yankee-like start for the Reds the other day (walks in runs, over 80 pitches by the middle of the 3rd and gets pulled) gave me some hope that the roster this year’ll be better. Sanchez looks like he’s hitting again. Greg “Mr. March” Bird doesn’t look too pathetic, at least not yet. New additions James Paxton and Adam Ottovino are both pitching well. Sabathia returns soon from his suspension. And the Red Sox are off to a bad start.

But they gotta stay healthy. This is getting ridiculous.

BTW, I found the photo above on this smartass’ dormant Yankee-hating blog, which I must admit made me laugh scrolling through it. It’s funny the intense emotions something as silly as sports bring out of people.

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