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As we always do this time of year, we will again take a quick look at how baseball is shaping up in the first two weeks of the season.

In the NL East, Washington with good pitching has blasted out of the box going into Monday’s road game at Miami winning five of six at home and four of five road games. If the pitching holds up they will be a tough team to run down.

In the NL Central it looks to be another humdinger of a battle between the upstart Cubs, Cards and Pirates (if their pitching comes around). The Cubs have shot out of the box going 9-3 and will be the team to catch. The Pirates and Cards will be playing for the wild card as it looks right now.

In the NL West, the surprising Rockies doing it with their bats are just a half game behind the Dodgers and a half game ahead of the Giants. All this will end up with the Dodgers and Giants slugging it out till the end.

In the AL East the Orioles have really blasted out of the box using their big bats to start off at 8-3. The OVER has been the play but the books adjusted quickly. After the O’s, the rest are bunched and we will take a wait and see approach to the rest. 

In the AL Central, the White Sox, Royals and Tigers are in a Royal battle for the top spot with Detroit just a half game behind KC and Chicago. Could this be the year for a Windy City World Series? The boys at Brando’s Chicago Bar here in Vegas are rooting for that scenario.

In the AL West, we see a wide open race till the end. At this moment the Rangers are a game ahead of the A’s. The Rangers are 7-6 while the A’s are 6-7, no beef steak here in the West.

Don’t forget, when making those round robins look for those streaks. The Braves opened losing nine in a row and now have won three straight. The same for the Twins in what is an amazing trend.

Heading into Monday, the Marlins dropped all five home games as have the Braves. Atlanta had to go on the road and beat the Fish three straight games. The Orioles, going into Tuesday, have won all five of their home games.

Speaking about the Twins, going into Monday’s interleague game with the Brewers they lost all six road games. The A’s going into Tuesday’s road game with the Yanks have won all three away from Oakland. The Mariners have gone just 1-5 at Seattle.

Derby upon us

It is just 19 days till the Kentucky Derby and it seems like yesterday the great American Pharoah won in Louisville.

Many have been talking about the undefeated filly Songbird taking on the boys. She would have been an overwhelming favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, but came up with a small fever.

As always, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will not train her and she will be out of the Oaks, which will now make the race double playable.

We had two preps this past weekend, the Grade 1 million dollar Arkansas Derby and the Grade 3 Lexington. Trainer Bob Baffert sent out horses in both races: the odds-on choice Cupid, who was horrible finishing 10th, and Collected in the Lexington, who won for fun under Javier Castellano.

In the Arkansas Derby the Steve Asmussen-trained Creator blasted home from last to win going away. The way Cupid ran Baffert will take a pass with him in the Kentucky Derby. That could open a spot for Tom Amoss with Mo Tom who is sitting at 21st on the points list. Asmussen and his win in the Arkansas Derby with Creator will now have two top runners going to Churchill, joining point leader Gun Runner.

This year’s Run for the Roses is shaping up as a real betting opportunity and in two weeks I will be penning my Kentucky Derby column.

Life is short, get off that couch, walk, shower, shave, get out and make a bet. You could be walking around lucky and not even know it. You just never know.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GT’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Twitter: @SabesBet. Email: [email protected].

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