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Here at GamingToday the Kentucky Derby trail is starting to heat up as we get to those 50- and 100-point races.

So far most of the prep races have been small fields but this past Saturday we had a nice nine horse lineup in the Grade-3 Sam F. Davis where the undefeated McCraken was making his 3-year-old debut after rattling off three straight wins at Churchill Downs last year winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

McCraken, who is named after a city in Kansas, made his big late run to win going away and set a new track record, beating the Todd Pletcher entry Tapwrit who was 1½ lengths behind. There are tons of things to like about this colt – he is undefeated at Churchill Downs, can come off the pace and is trained by Ian Wilkes, who will have him ready for his best on the first Saturday in May.

Let’s take a look at the future Kentucky Derby odds from Wynn racebook, where Johnny Avello is the one guy in this gambling city who puts up his own numbers on the Kentucky Derby future book. The top ten in Johnny’s future book before the Sam Davis were as follows: Mastery 8-1, Classic Empire 8-1, McCraken 10-1, Irish War Cry 10-1, Gormley 18-1, Gunnevera 20-1, American Anthem 25-1, Practical Joke 25-1, Wild Shot 30-1 and Battalion Runner 30-1.

Note: The current point leader is a horse from Japan called Mont Saint Legame listed at 125-1.

As the road is long and winding lots will change. I, along with Steve Davidowitz and Dave Valento, will keep updating each week.

Make your plans now if you will be here for the Kentucky Derby. If you are not planning to come, you should as Las Vegas is the place to be, especially since for the first time I, Valento and Professor Gordon Jones will be having a breakfast Derby Seminar in the Palace Station racebook on Friday, May 5, lucky Cinco de Mayo day. More details will follow as we get closer.

One for Thursday

Since we are into horses with football done, this column will feature a One for Thursday horse play along with that day’s hoops pick. It begins this Thursday at Santa Anita in race 8, which is a downhill turf race. No. 5 Mercer Island was scheduled to go down the hill on Jan. 27 but the race was taken off the grass due to rain.

Trainer Peter Miller still ran this 5 year old gelding arriving from Florida via Canada. His race on the dirt was much better than looked and Miller must have really thought he needed the race.

Miller gets the race he wanted here and we just may get a good price if the new bug boy Elvin Roman is in the irons and takes the blinkers off the horse for the first time. Roman is 18 years old and a native of Puerto Rico. We think he can ride.

Now let’s build on our hoops winner from last week. We will be laying the lumber this Thursday in a big revenge game as San Diego travels to Provo to take on the BYU Cougars. BYU comes off a big win this past Saturday when beating a good San Francisco team as a 3-point dog, while San Diego was losing at home to Pepperdine, 65-60, as a 3-point favorite.

These two met last month in San Diego with BYU around a 10-point road chalk. The Cougars were humiliated, 88-75. Now it’s time for big revenge and we note the host in this series has gone 9-1 ATS with BYU going 6-0 ATS at home. We will lay the wood looking for the blowout in Provo at 8 p.m. PT on ESPNU.

SB 51 is in the books but so are next year’s future odds to win SB 52. Take a double sawbuck, go to your favorite sportsbook and play four teams with some juicy odds. One team you may want to take a shot with is San Diego at 75-1. Had the Chargers not blown so many games last year they could have made the playoffs.

Look for them to get there this year, and at that price you could be walking around lucky and not even know it. Have a great week.

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