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Betting the Breeders’ Futurity on a $20 budget

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There was a time, not too long ago, when just about any 2-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher was expected to win whenever and wherever they were entered. Between 2009 and 2017, Pletcher’s annual winning percentage with juveniles ranged from 24% to 34%, eye-catching numbers that signified the strength of his stable.

Times have changed. After striking at just a 21% rate with 2-year-olds in 2018, Pletcher’s win percentage has fallen again to 18% in 2019, and he hasn’t won a Grade 1 race for juveniles since 2016. But in my opinion, Pletcher can bounce back in a big way with #10 Gouverneur Morris in Saturday’s $500,000 Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.

A son of Pletcher’s two-time Grade 1 winner Constitution, Gouverneur Morris was bet like a “can’t lose” proposition in his debut on September 2 at Saratoga. Racing over a sloppy, sealed racing surface, Gouverneur Morris tracked quick early fractions, took command in the homestretch, and powered clear to win by nine widening lengths.

This was an exciting debut from a promising prospect, and Gouverneur Morris was suitably rewarded on the speed figure scales, receiving an 83 Beyer and an 85 Brisnet. He’s come back to post a couple of sharp workouts at Belmont Park, so from all appearances, Pletcher has this $600,000 auction purchase ready to continue his ascent through the ranks.

Just as importantly, Gouverneur Morris appears poised to work out a clean trip in the Breeders’ Futurity, Drawing post 10 should allow him to stay out of traffic and hopefully secure a perfect position early on, possibly stalking #1 Tap It to Win and #7 American Butterfly. Pletcher has already won the Breeders’ Futurity twice in the last decade, including in 2014 with Carpe Diem, a Saratoga maiden winner stepping up in class just like Gouverneur Morris.

I plan to make Gouverneur Morris the key horse in my wagers on Saturday, but I won’t bet him exclusively on top. I’ll also support the above-mentioned speedster Tap It to Win and the proven graded stakes winner #2 By Your Side.

Both of these runners have strong points to offer. For example. Tap It to Win is a well-bred son of Tapit out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare, giving him a stamina-oriented pedigree perfect for the Breeders’ Futurity. Trained by Mark Casse, who won this race in 2016 with champion Classic Empire, Tap It to Win had no difficulty winning an August 24 maiden race at Saratoga, earning an 86 Beyer while scoring by 3 ½ lengths over Complexifier, who returned to break his own maiden at Churchill Downs with an 83 Beyer.

As for By Your Side, this Eddie Keneally-trained son of Constitution started his career in very promising fashion, defeating future Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes winner Basin in a Churchill Downs maiden race before winning the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga by three lengths. Yet despite this bright start, By Your Side never really fired in the Hopeful, weakening to finish a dull fifth behind Basin.

It’s hard to say why By Your Side misfired in the Hopeful, but if you draw a line through that effort, he looks like a good fit for the Breeders’ Futurity. Stakes-experienced colts have won seven of the last 10 editions of this race, and By Your Side has posted two fast workouts at Keeneland in preparation for Saturday, suggesting he has an affinity for this track.

Let’s play these three in the exacta while also betting Gouverneur Morris to win:

Wagering Strategy on a $20 Budget

$10 to win on #10 Gouverneur Morris

What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 9th race, $10 to win on #10

$2 exacta: 10 with 1,2 ($4)

What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 9th race, $2 exacta 10 with 1,2

$3 exacta: 1,2 with 10 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 9th race, $3 exacta 1,2 with 10

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues on NBC Sports with Fall Stars Weekend from Keeneland on October 5 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and October 6 at 4:30 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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)


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)



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)


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)