Santa Anita “the great race place” opens for the fall meet this Friday and what a session it will be – culminated by the Breeders’ Cup Championship on Nov. 1-2.
If you have never been to Santa Anita and are a horse player, this is a must go. From Vegas it’s a short 3½ hour hop to Arcadia, just 14 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, in case you want to go to the track and catch a playoff game at Dodger Stadium.
Go there and you will know why they call it The Great Race Place, home of the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, one of the major preps to the Kentucky Derby. Some great 3 year olds have exited the Santa Anita Derby, like Sham, who finished second behind the great Secretariat in the 1973 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Triple Crown winner Affirmed won the Santa Anita Derby back in 1978 on his way to glory. The great AP Indy won the Santa Anita Derby in 1992 and Sunday Silence did it in 1989.
Such a great past and a shining future; Santa Anita made many upgrades to the track. With Hollywood Park facing the wrecking ball after its November meet, Santa Anita will head into 2014 with some seven months of racing. That will give us all a chance to go to the track and have a great time.
I know we have it made here in Vegas as horseplayers, but if you grew up going to the track as I did, there is nothing like the smells and the sounds of being at the track in person. Believe me, there is no better track in the United States than Santa Anita, and we are very lucky it is only a short drive or flight away.
I will see you at the Great Race Place this Friday for opening day, and the weather will be just fine. As the song says, “…it never rains in southern California.”
First post is 1 p.m. with the exception of BC Friday, which will be 11:15 a.m. BC Saturday it’s 10:15 a.m. and closing day, Nov. 3, noon.
Now for college football. I bad rapped UNLV and they won two straight games. Now the Rebels are favored to win this week in New Mexico to move their record to 3-2. We will see.
The college schedule gets into the meat of things this week as most of the patsies will be moving on to their conference games after getting their big checks for getting crushed. Let’s take a look at a few games that interest me before we move into the NFL as I unveil my new pro football handicapping system.
TOLEDO +3 (at Ball State): The Cardinals from Muncie have been feeding on some sorry teams while the Rockets have played Florida and Missouri. They come into this game seeking revenge from last year’s 34-27 home loss as a 5½ point favorite. This game opened at 2½ but we think 3 will be the number. TOLEDO.
OKLAHOMA -3 (at Notre Dame): The Sooners in big revenge mood after getting blown out at Norman last year by the Irish, 30-13. Heading to South Bend, they look to pay back that embarrassing loss in what should be a low scoring game. The Irish are 0-4 ATS this year. OKLAHOMA.
HOUSTON -2½ (at UTSA): The Roadrunners from San Antonio, a place I know well having done my basic training there in 1967, are a feisty team. UTSA has covered all four games so far. The Cougars won and covered their first three, and with a win here and one next week against Memphis could be 5-0 before a huge home game against BYU. We think they get the win in what will be a close game till the end. HOUSTON.
AIR FORCE OVER (at Nevada): We will be betting OVER in this game as the fly boys from from Colorado Springs have little or no defense to speak of, giving up an average 50 points in their last three games. These two scored 79 last year. OVER.
WISCONSIN +7½ (at Ohio St.): Will Urban ever lose a game at Ohio State? We will soon find out as the Big Ten gets into the meat of things and this game will be key to both team’s seasons. The Buckeyes beat the Badgers in Madison last year as a 1-point dog, 21-14, and Wisky has had this game circled since. They could be unbeaten but got robbed in Tempe two weeks ago. This will be a close one with Urban working his magic show, pulling it out late by not by more than a TD. WISCONSIN.
FRESNO ST. -17½ (at Hawaii): The Rainbow Warriors get back to Honolulu and get Fresno State who comes off huge win against Boise last Friday. Fresno will be partying hardy at the sea and in the sun with all those beautifully tanned babes with leis around their necks. HAWAII.
As for pro football, I noticed the NFL is upside down. The Steelers are in last place in the AFC North at 0-3 and their goose is cooked. The Dolphins with no Dam Marino are 3-0 in the AFC East. The Packers are 1-2, the New York mini Giants are 0-3 and cooked, the Redskins are 0-3 and R2D2 has lost his mojo. It looks like the league has figured out Mr. K and the 49ers.
This past Sunday, after somehow losing the Green Bay game, I needed to walk it off. I went past a crap table at Palace Station and the first thing I heard was crap from the stick man. Low and behold I came up with my brilliant idea on how to “handicrap” the NFL!
When I got home early Sunday afternoon to watch the late games, I made cutouts of all the NFL teams playing this Sunday and put them in my backyard. I then I let my dog Dino out to do his business and he crapped right on the Texans, then moved to the Falcons and did a nice double header on them.
Dino looked at me, smiled and woofed he needed some food after all that work. The NFL is no mind game, just a crap shoot. That is my new system, so my two plays this week:
TEXANS +2½ (vs. Seattle): Seattle may be unbeatable at home but they are just another team on the road. They should have gone down in Carolina. Houston comes off a nasty loss in Baltimore and will rebound.
FALCONS -1½ (vs. New England): Pats, winning with defense this year and not offense, will pay the price in Atlanta, coming off of last minute loss in Miami.
Remember, you may be walking around lucky, so just step up to that counter, make a little laydown, have a nice week and see ya at Santa Anita this Friday.
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].