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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.

Running up the points with Rockets, and the college football bets you need to make in Week 12

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Are you ready for some more MAC-tion? Because there are two more games on the schedule Wednesday night. We break down the best bets for these games and take a look at the weekend ahead in college football – from sides and totals to props and everything in between.

ROOM TO ROAM

The Toledo Rockets might be only slight favorites for Wednesday night’s MAC tilt with visiting Northern Illinois, but they have a significant advantage in at least one area – and it could turn this one into a bit of a laugher. The Rockets come into the game with the nation’s No. 12 rushing offense, averaging nearly 251 yards per game on the ground – and they’ve been especially dominant over their previous two games, racking up a combined 664 rushing yards in narrow victories over Eastern Michigan and Kent State. The Huskies, meanwhile, are coming off getting routed 48-10 to Central Michigan in which the Chippewas posted 327 rushing yards.

An edge like this makes Toledo a terrific option in a variety of different bet scenarios; we recommend buying a few points in their favor and taking an alternate line of -6.5.

MIAMI (OH) FOR 3

The Miami (OH) Redhawks should have little trouble filling the board Wednesday night as they host a Bowling Green defense that ranks among the worst in the nation in points allowed. But while the Falcons have surrendered a mind-boggling 33.8 points per game so far this season, the Redhawks might not necessarily be headed for a parade to the end zone. Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst touchdown-to-field-goal ratios in the country coming into Week 12, having scored 22 TDs compared with 16 FGs – six of those coming over the course of their current three-game winning streak.

Miami (Ohio) is a big-time favorite here, and is a good bet to open the scoring given BGSU’s 2.5 first-half-points-per-game average on the road this season. We like the Redhawks FG to kick off the point parade.

GILBERT  GETTING BACK

Kansas State’s premier rushing threat might be back on the field this weekend. Wildcats senior James Gilbert practiced on Tuesday and is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an undisclosed ailment that kept him out of last week’s 27-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns. It was originally thought that Gilbert would be in the lineup vs. Texas, but he was a late exclusion – and Kansas State struggled in his absence, finishing with a paltry 51 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Gilbert ranks ninth in the Big 12 Conference in rushing yards (558) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.

Gilbert’s return would invigorate a Kansas State rush attack that has a favorable matchup against a West Virginia defense allowing 173 rushing yards per game. We recommend the hosts ATS if Gilbert is deemed fit to return.

WAKING NIGHTMARE

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have seen their season take a terrible turn with word that standout wide receiver Sage Surratt will miss the remainder of 2019 with an undisclosed injury. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson confirmed Tuesday that Surratt, who wasn’t featured on the team’s depth chart ahead of its Week 12 encounter with Clemson, would be out for the rest of the season – though he wouldn’t specify what was wrong with the star wideout. Surratt finishes the year with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 66 receptions as the premier target for quarterback Jamie Newman.

The absence of Surratt should give bettors even less of a reason to bank on Wake Forest, which has seen the line shift as far as four points in Clemson’s favor. Look for the Tigers to keep the undermanned Deacons below their team total.

Too late to start fading the Fins, and the NFL bets you need to make in Week 11

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This may require a double-take, but listen up. The Miami Dolphins have been the best bet in the NFL since the start of October. Yes, those Miami Dolphins. We break down the odds and let you know what bets we like in Week 11 of the NFL as we dive into sides, totals, props and more. 

STAYING HOT IN Q1

The hottest team in the league right now is Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. After knocking off the Patriots in Week 9, they turned their crosshairs on the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. The Ravens ran just 48 offensive plays but managed to put up 49 points. Lost in the 49-13 win was the fact that Baltimore moved to 8-1 against the first-quarter spread after winning the first 15 minutes 14-0.

This week, Baltimore is a 4-point home favorite versus a Houston team that is coming off their bye. If you don’t trust a team coming off a blowout win versus the worst team in the league and/or covering their last three games, take a look at the 1Q Ravens -0.5 (-105) as an alternative.

Baltimore is second in the league in first quarter points per game at 9.5 and third in the league in points against in the first quarter at 3.67 while the Texans are 0-3-1 on the road this year in the first quarter. Take the Ravens 1Q -0.5.

FEAST AWAITS EVANS

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face a very motivated New Orleans Saints team Sunday, but NOLA will be without their top cornerback in Marcus Lattimore. The third-year CB is week-to-week with a hamstring injury meaning Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will face sub-par corners in P.J. Williams and Eli Apple.

As Brad Evans pointed out on twitter, this is especially great news for Mike Evans who has struggled over his career versus Lattimore. Evans put up a donut early this year in Week 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and averaged 9.5 targets for three catches and 34 yards in two games in 2017 (last year Lattimore struggled following up his 2017 DROY but has been much better this year).

Even with Jameis Winston getting sacked nearly four times a game, Evans is averaging 139 yards a game over his last four contests. Jump on Evans’ receiving yard total on any number below 85 and check in on his reception total, hitting the Over on any number below 7.

LOADING SCREEN

No team in the league relies on the screen game more than the Minnesota Vikings. Per ESPN, Minnesota is averaging 9.8 yards per screen attempt which is 3.5 yards more per attempt than the No.10 team.

The beneficiary of this is running back Dalvin Cook who gashed the Cowboys in primetime every time he got the ball with blockers ahead of him. Over the last three games, Cook has amassed 193 yards receiving and will face a Denver Broncos’ defense that is giving up 8.6 yards per pass to RBs since Week 8.

Grab the Over on Cook’s receiving yards on any total less than 40 yards.

LOADING SCREEN PT. 2

If you’re tailing the Cook receiving yards play and want some action on the other side of the ball, maybe look to fade the Broncos’ backfield in receiving yards. Denver is the worst team at generating yards on the screen game (3.7 yards per attempt) and neither Phillip Lindsay nor Royce Freeman has topped 17 yards receiving in the last two weeks. In the only game Brandon Allen has started at quarterback, Lindsay wasn’t targeted at all and Freeman saw one target which he lost a yard on.

Feel confident in taking Lindsay’s Under receiving yards on anything greater than 19 and Freeman’s Under on any number greater than 25.

AIN’T FADING THE FINS NOW

The best team ATS over the last five weeks has been the Miami Dolphins. The former 0-7 team has rattled off five-straight wins ATS and face a Buffalo Bills team that has zero offensive identity of late and trailed the Dolphins by five points heading into the fourth quarter just four weeks ago.

We are a little bearish on Miami hitting a sixth-straight win ATS but have no problem fading Josh Allen’s Bills who are putting up just 288 yards of total offense over the last three weeks, good for sixth-worst. Their once stellar defense now sits 12th in Wtd DVOA — 9th against the pass and 27th against the run.

The Bills needed 22 4th-quarter points in their last meeting to cover their team total and we don’t see Brian Daboll’s offense clearing 23.5 points since they are 2-5 O/U that total in their last seven.

Get on the Bills’ team total Under 23.5 now, as it may drop under this key number later in the week.