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Betting an off-the-pace longshot in the Cotillion Stakes

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Win and you’re in. It sounds simple in theory. But the winning part will be easier said than done for the 11 fillies set to square off in Saturday’s $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing.

The 1 1/16-mile race has been gaining prestige in recent years and now offers a “Win and You’re In” qualifying berth to the Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. With this bonus prize added to the rich purse, the Cotillion has attracted some of the most talented and accomplished three-year-old fillies in North America.

The 9-5 morning line favorite is understandably #8 Guarana. Conditioned by the three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, Guarana is undefeated in three starts and showcased her budding brilliance with victories in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes and the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks during the spring and summer.

But could there be a crack in Guarana’s armor? She raced a bit greenly in the homestretch of the Coaching Club American Oaks, ducking out late in the race while leading clearly. And while she’s shown some versatility in terms of running style, winning the Acorn Stakes from a few lengths off a fast pace, two of her victories have come in gate-to-wire fashion.

Guarana’s front-running tendency could prove problematic in the Cotillion, a race that’s absolutely packed with speed horses. The Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks winner #1 Serengeti Empress knows of only one way to run – fast and furious right from the start – and the same goes for #11 Jaywalk, gate-to-wire winner of the 2018 Grade 1 Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The speedy six-time graded stakes winner #10 Bellafina also tends to set or press the pace, while the longshots #5 Collegeville Girl#6 Horologist, and #9 Sweet Sami D have also shown a fondness for front-running tactics.

So who can take advantage of this presumably fast and contested pace? How about #3 Street Band? This daughter of Istan might not be a winning machine, but she’s quietly compiled an admirable record this year, highlight by blowout victories in the Grade 2 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks and the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks.

Street Band’s Indiana Oaks triumph was eye-catching, since she exuded power and looked like a winner from start to finish, but I was just as impressed by her third-place finish in the 1 ¼-mile Grade 1 Alabama Stakes on Aug. 17 at Saratoga. Racing over a sloppy, sealed track, Street Band did not receive the cleanest trip. Instead of enjoying a wide, unencumbered rally, she found herself racing between and behind horses for most of the race, a tricky position that forced her to wait in traffic on the far turn.

However, at the top of the stretch, Street Band gamely split horses and seized a brief lead. She remained thoroughly in contention until the eighth pole, after which she weakened slightly to finish third, but under the circumstances I thought Street Band ran a great race.

Street Band will be cutting back significantly in distance for the Cotillion, which should sharpen her finishing speed, and I’m also optimistic she’ll receive a perfect setup rallying into a fast pace. The best part? She’s 8-1 on the morning line, so if she wins, the payoff will be lucrative.

As a result, I don’t see any reason to get too complicated with wagering strategies. If you’re playing on a small budget, just bet Street Band to win and place. But if you have a little extra cash to spend and want to seek a truly memorable payoff, try keying her in the exacta and trifecta with Guarana, Serengeti Empress, Jaywalk, and the improving Horologist, a 15-1 shot with four consecutive victories to her credit.

Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget

$5 to win on #3 Street Band

What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 10th race, $5 to win on #3 Street Band

$5 to place on #3 Street Band

What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 10th race, $5 to place on #3 Street Band

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$10 to win on #3 Street Band

What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 10th race, $10 to win on #3 Street Band

$4 exacta box: 3,8 ($8)

What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 10th race, $5 exacta box 3,8

$1 trifecta: 3,8 with 3,8 with 1,6,11 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 10th race, $1 trifecta 3,8 with 3,8 with 1,6,11

$1 trifecta: 3,8 with 1,6,11 with 3,8 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Parx Racing, 10th race, $1 trifecta 3,8 with 1,6,11 with 3,8

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues on NBC Sports with the Cotillion Stakes from Parx Racing on September 21. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.

VanVleet picks up where he left off in the playoffs, and the NBA bets you need to make Tuesday

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Opening day of the 2019-20 NBA season is here with the defending champion Toronto Raptors hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. The late matchup pairs the top two choices to win it all, according to the NBA betting odds, with the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the new-look Los Angeles Clippers. 

If you’re betting on the NBA openers, we have the best bets and prop predictions for Tuesday’s two games.

BIG CHANGES IN THE BIG EASY

The Pelicans sport one of the most overhauled rosters in the NBA after trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and draft picks. New Orleans then selected Zion Williamson first overall in the draft, but unfortunately, his debut will have to wait as he is expected to miss the first couple of weeks with a knee injury. Some more big pickups include Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick.

Although Redick is playing for a new squad this year, while with Philadelphia he had success versus the Raptors in the playoffs, shooting 43.9 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and scored 15 or more points in four of those seven postseason games. With an increased role on the Pelicans and some good shooting numbers, back Over his points total of 16.5 on PointsBet.

NO HANGOVER HERE

The Raptors kick their season off playing a double-header with the first game at home to the Pelicans. The 2018-2019 season saw the Raptors set franchise records in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, and 3-point shots made. A regression is expected with Toronto losing both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green but still finds itself a 7-point favorite in the season opener.

With the Championship banner being hoisted, rings handed out, and the Raptors looking to start the schedule strong, look for them to take care of business and cover at home as 7-point favorites.

RIGHT SAID FRED

With Toronto PG Kyle Lowry undergoing surgery on his finger in the offseason, don’t be surprised to see big numbers out of Fred VanVleet in the first few games of the schedule.

Last season, VanVleet averaged 27.5 minutes with 11 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. Although this is a revamped Pelicans roster with many new faces, New Orleans struggled to defend opposing point guards last year, allowing 23.3 points per game and the league’s highest assists per game average at 9.1 to that position. If he carries over his postseason play, VanVleet will be a major player and offensive contributor for the defending champs. Take Over his assists total of 4.5.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

The Lakers start their second season with LeBron James at the helm but has more support behind him with guys like Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and Danny Green. The Clippers were also busy in the offseason, adding MVP talents in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

George will not be playing in the opening game (out until November while recovering from shoulder surgery), which plays a major role in shaping this spread, which sees the Purple and Gold as short “home” favorites in the war for the Staples Center.

LeBron and the Lakers have a lot to prove after a terrible finish to 2018-19 and we like them to cover as 2.5-points favorites Tuesday.

DOWN TO DEFENSE

With both Leonard and Patrick Beverly on the floor, the Clippers will be a difficult team to score on. With George out of action and this L.A. offense not firing on all cylinders, the Clippers certainly have the defense to keep things close.

The Lakers have plenty of scoring options but miss out on the services of Kyle Kuzma (18.7 ppg in 2018-19), who will be sitting out in the opening game with a foot injury. While it’s Game 1 of an 82-game season, this Los Angeles rivalry could have playoff intensity right out of the gate. We like a lower-scoring game and the Under 225.5 points Tuesday night. 

Lakers vs Clippers NBA betting picks and predictions: Davis will dominate down low on opening night

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The 2019-2020 NBA season starts off with a bang tonight as two revamped teams with some of the best players in the world take to the court in Los Angeles as the Lakers face the Clippers. 

Expectations are sky-high for both teams after the Lakers added Anthony Davis as a running mate for Lebron James, while the Clippers are led by last year’s NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. These rivals will be highly motivated to begin the season with a win and stake an early claim as the best team in the league.

We break down the odds for the Battle of L.A. and give you five of our best bets and predictions.

QUICK HITTER

The biggest move the Lakers made in the offseason was obviously the addition of Anthony Davis. But he’s not the only new face with Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley all in line to receive significant minutes in their rotation.

The Clippers have also gone through a makeover adding Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Maurice Harkless. While George won’t play until at least mid-November after undergoing shoulder surgery, the other two should log major minutes.

Playing together in practice and the preseason is no substitute for the actual defensive intensity of an NBA game. So expect both offenses to take some time to gell and back the Under on the 1Q total.

PICK: First Quarter Under 58 (-115)

FIRST HALF BET

The first quarter might see from offensive jitters from both teams but they should begin to settle down after 12 minutes. Lebron James, in particular, should have little problem facilitating the offense while the underrated additions of Green and Cook should improve their three-point efficiency which was among the worst in the league last year.

On defense, they match up well with the Clippers with Lebron able to switch onto Leonard while Bradley can give Lou Williams fits. Rajon Rondo is listed as questionable with a calf injury but if he’s good to go that will be yet another Lakers defender that can pressure opposing ball-handlers.

The Lakers also have a height advantage which should help them win the battle on the boards and get more second chances. Bet on the Lakers to cover the short first-half spread.

PICK: First Half Lakers -1.5 (-120)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Davis looks like a great fit in the Lakers offense next to Lebron. The Brow can run the pick and roll, attack down low and hit jumpers when he needs to. He gets to face a Clippers team that was among the worst at defending inside last season, giving up 50.7 points per game in the paint. Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green will have a major mismatch on their hands against the Lakers star.

Last year Davis combined for 41.8 points, rebounds and assists per game but that includes a stretch towards the end of the season where New Orleans severely limited his minutes. Before the All-Star break, he combined for 45.2 points, rebounds, and assists per contest. Take the Over on his PRA total tonight.

PICK: Anthony Davis – Points, Rebounds and Assists Over 41.5 (-115)

 

FULL GAME TOTAL

The O/U for this game opened at 227 on Saturday and has already dropped to 224 and for good reason. The Clippers should be terrific at defending on the perimeter with Patrick Beverly and Leonard while the Lakers will miss Kyle Kuzma’s production on the offensive end of the floor. Kuzma averaged 18.7 ppg last season but the forward is still recovering from a foot injury.

The Lakers should be much improved at defending the rim with Davis and Howard, which will force Leonard and Lou Williams to carry the offensive load.

The Lakers added plenty of experience and size in the offseason. That might be a formula for winning but also means that they added older players and guys that prefer to set up in the half-court rather than running the floor all game. Expect them to play at a slower pace than last season and take the Under 224.

PICK: Under 224 (-110)

FULL GAME SIDE

As we enter this new era of “Super-Duos” in the NBA the Clippers could find themselves at a disadvantage without one half of their duo. Leonard will do his part on both ends of the floor but the Clippers will need a heroic display from Lou Williams and improved defensive play from their big men if they want to hang with the Lakeshow.

The Clips won’t have an answer for AD and Lebron will come out as healthy and as motivated as he’s been in years. As the season goes on, expect Lakers coach Frank Vogel to start resting his superstars, but he has said that there won’t be any minutes restrictions for Lebron or Davis at the start of the year. Count on the Lakers viewing this as a statement game and back them to pull off the win while covering.

PICK: Los Angeles Lakers -3.5 (-105)