The first full week of baseball is in the books with few surprises if any.
If you were trying to get even on Sunday betting the aces you would have dug a deeper hole. All the ace pitchers went down!
Stick with the streaks and you will build your bankroll for football and the Del Mar meet. Baseball teams that were streaking on Sunday (Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rockies and A’s) all won. You would have put over a four-team parlay or (if you play like Saber) had a round robin 4/3’s. Stay with the streaks.
The main thing we learned in the first full week is the Las Vegas books could be in store for a long season. Some teams (Astros, Marlins, Pirates) are just outright bad.
In the AL East – as was written in this column last month – the Yankees will not be very good. They are tied for last with the Jays in what still looks like a good race in the AL East that will go down to the wire.
In the AL Central the White Sox and Tigers look to have a big say, but the Indians will be a good dog bet throughout the season. This is not the Cleveland Spiders, who I will write about as the season progresses.
In the AL West, the Angels have started slow but will pick it up. The money ball “sabermetrics” A’s have started fast, but it could be an illusion. They were beating up on the hapless Astros all weekend. This will be a two horse race between the Rangers and Halos.
In the NL East the Braves sprung out of the gate with the Nats and the Mets sitting behind. The loss by the Strasburg on Sunday is puzzling. If he goes down so go the Nationals. The Marlins will never get out of last place!
In the NL Central the Reds have come out quick and will be battling with the Cards for the division. Chicago and Pittsburgh are the bottom feeders. Milwaukee will pick it up soon.
In the NL West all the teams with the exception of the Padres have come out quick, but I still believe the Dodgers will get hot and take the division.
Look for the books to adjust big time on these bad teams as the players will be laying some big lumber betting against the Marlins, Pirates, Cubs and, especially, the Astros.
Kentucky Derby: Years ago we called them “hundred granders.” Now we will call them 100 and 50 pointers. Up until this year it was graded money won that got you in the top 20 for a starting position on Derby day. Now the top 20 point getters qualify. Certain races get the most points and the 100 pointers are here.
Two weeks ago we had Orb winning the Grade 1, 100 point Florida Derby with a very impressive 2¾ win over Itsmyluckyday, who picked up 50 for second. Orb stamped himself as one of the top four going into this year’s race and is trained by one of my favorite trainers Shug McGaughey.
Shug is an old school trainer who rarely pushes his young horses, so for him to have such a runner we will need to stand up and take notice. On this day he was ridden by the great J.R. Velazquez who is also listed to ride Verrazano – a game winner this past Saturday in the 100-point Wood Memorial.
Verrazano beat two very good foes in Normandy Invasion and the very game Vyjack, both of whom will be following him to Kentucky.
Two weeks ago we also had the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby another 100-pointer and that race was won by Revolutionary, another big time Todd Pletcher runner (he also trains Verrazano).
Revolutionary stormed home from last to first with a huge wide run down the lane, a very impressive win but against some suspect competition. He still is a player.
On Saturday out West we had the running of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby another 100-pointer. It was clearly a two horse match race down the stretch between Goldencents and Flashback. Goldencents, part owned by Louisville coach Rick Pitino, ran huge holding off Flashback by 1¼.
ESPN racing analyst Hank Goldberg called GT from Miami with a prop that came from Art Manteris, the legend at Station Casinos. They are going with a Pitino parlay of Louisville and Goldencents at 14-1 to win both the national title and the Derby. We’ll see what happens.
Flashback has been taken off the Derby trail as he suffered a chip in his right knee, but trainer Baffert says he will be fine.
One thing is for sure. You can bet the Goldencents will ensure an honest pace in the 1¼ Derby.
We have two more 100-pointers coming up this weekend with the Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes. We’ll update next week.
A note about J.R. Velazquez: He sustained a slight fracture of his first rib on his right side in a spill over the weekend but is said to be OK. We think he will ride Verrazano.
I will again be hosting our huge Kentucky Derby Seminar, along with the all-knowing Ralph Siraco from Race Day Las Vegas and Paul Truitt, handicapper and ex-jockey agent. We are renaming our seminar the Vic Vivio Memorial Kentucky Derby Seminar.
The seminar, as usual, will be held two days before the big race on a Thursday and is free with cocktail service and free food. Get to the Palace Station book early to reserve a good seat.
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].