Using history to handicap the 2019 Spinster Stakes

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Get ready, racing fans! As the Breeders’ Cup draws closer and closer, NBC Sports will head to Keeneland on Sunday to broadcast the $500,000 Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes.

This 1 1/8-mile race is expected to draw a high-quality field of prominent contenders for the Nov. 2 Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita with the winner of the Spinster receiving an automatic “Win and You’re In” qualifying berth to the Distaff.

Looking forward to watching the action unfold? The broadcast kicks off at 4:30 p.m. ET. Want to get a head start identifying the most likely winner? We’ve got you covered there too. The following tips and trends (based off the last ten editions of the Spinster) will help point you toward the filly or mare most likely to reach the winner’s circle at Keeneland this Sunday.

Let’s dig in!

Support late runners and deep closers

Speed horses haven’t fared very well in recent editions of the Spinster Stakes. While the return of dirt racing at Keeneland has marginally improved their results – Romantic Vision (2017) and I’m a Chatterbox (2016) employed pace-tracking tactics to prevail – overall, seven of the last ten Spinster winners raced in the back half of the field during the opening half-mile.

As a general rule, I don’t recommend relying heavily on deep closers in major dirt races. But the Spinster Stakes seems to go against the grain more often than not, so if the horse you like employs a late-running style, you can consider this a positive.

Year Winner Position after first 1/2-mile 1/2-mile & 3/4-mile (track condition)
2018 Blue Prize 8th by 4.25 lengths (11 starters) 47.62, 1:12.27 (fast)
2017 Romantic Vision 2nd by 1.5 lengths (9 starters) 48.26, 1:12.56 (sloppy, sealed)
2016 I’m a Chatterbox 2nd by 1 length (5 starters) 48.30, 1:12.57 (fast)
2015 Got Lucky 8th by 6 lengths (9 starters) 46.89, 1:11.01 (fast)
2014 Don’t Tell Sophia 6th by 10.5 lengths (6 starters) 47.47, 1:11.71 (fast)
2013 Emollient 11th by a 6.75 lengths (11 starters) 47.30, 1:11.03 (fast)
2012 In Lingerie 4th by 1.5 lengths (10 starters) 47.97, 1:12.41 (fast)
2011 Aruna 7th by 6.5 lengths (12 starters) 46.41, 1:10.76 (fast)
2010 Acoma 6th by 7 lengths (10 starters) 47.34, 1:11.48 (fast)
2009 Mushka 9th by 8 lengths (11 starters) 46.96, 1:11.12 (fast)

Bet runners from Churchill Downs and Saratoga

Fillies and mares who prepped for the Spinster at nearby Churchill Downs have been running well in recent editions of the Spinster, producing three of the last five winners and seven of the last fifteen trifecta finishers.

But spanning back over the last decade, Saratoga in New York still rates as the key place to prep, producing five winners and 10 of the last 30 trifecta finishers.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, avoid playing shippers from California. Over the last decade, nine fillies who prepped in the Golden State have contested the Spinster, with only a single third-place finish to show for their efforts.

Experience at Keeneland is beneficial

It pays to have experience at Keeneland under your belt. Seven of the last ten Spinster winners had previously contested a race over the Keeneland main track, with six of them scoring at least one victory at Keeneland prior to their Spinster success.

Favor proven Grade 1 competitors

The Spinster is a Grade 1 race and Grade 1-quality fillies and mares typically wind up in the winner’s circle. Every Spinster winner over the last decade had previously contested a Grade 1 race, with nine of the ten winning or placing at the Grade 1 level. The lone exception was Mushka, who was awarded victory in the 2009 Spinster via the disqualification of Grade 1-placed Proviso. Mushka’s previous best finish in a Grade 1 event was a fourth-place effort in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

The bettors usually get it right

While longshots occasionally prevail in the Spinster – 23-1 Acoma in 2010 being one example – for the most part, favorites and short-priced contenders reap the rewards. Over the last decade, four favorites have reached the Spinster winner’s circle, while another five winners offered odds between 3.60-1 and 6.40-1. Furthermore, horses starting at single-digit odds have filled 21 of the 30 trifecta spots since 2009.

Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott warrant respect

Trainers Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott don’t enter fillies and mares in the Spinster every time they turn around, so it’s noteworthy that they’ve each won this race twice since 2009. Pletcher saddled Got Lucky (2015) and In Lingerie (2012), while Mott achieved his victories with Emollient (2013) and Mushka (2009).

Mares often outrun their younger rivals

While major dirt races tend to be the domain of younger horses, mares aged five and older have accounted for four of the last ten editions of the Spinster. This is significant when you consider fillies aged three or four have won 18 of the last 20 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which more accurately reflects the youth-favoring tendencies of races like these.


There are a few high-quality Grade 1 competitors targeting the Spinster Stakes, including the 3-year-old sensation Dunbar Road, the consistent She’s a Julie, and the versatile veteran Vexatious.

But from a historical perspective, they’ll be hard-pressed to defeat Elate, who fits every single tip and trend we’ve outlined:

  • She’s a late runner.
  • She prepped at Saratoga with a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes.
  • She ran over the Keeneland main track in the 2017 Grade 1 Ashland Stakes.
  • She’s a two-time Grade 1 winner with ample experience contesting races at the highest level.
  • She’ll almost certainly be favored in the wagering.
  • She’s trained by Bill Mott
  • She’s five years old.

From the perspective of history, how can we possibly play against Elate in the Spinster? By these metrics, she appears to be a shoo-in for victory.

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.

Canucks vs Golden Knights picks and predictions for Game 1


Perhaps no team has been more fun to follow during the NHL playoffs than the Vancouver Canucks, and hockey bettors can still get the Canucks at +1,300 to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup. Vancouver is coming off a thrilling series win against the defending champion St. Louis Blues, but now a much more difficult challenge awaits. The Vegas Golden Knights are +350 favorites to win it all, and they’ve certainly looked the part while dropping only one playoff contest.

Game 1 of this series gets underway Sunday, so we’re here to bring you our NHL picks and predictions in this Western Conference semifinal showdown.

Vancouver Canucks vs Vegas Golden Knights betting preview

Starting Goalies

Canucks: Jacob Markstrom – playoffs – 7-3, 2.44 GAA, .929 SV% (season – 23-16, 2.75 GAA, .918 SV%)

Golden Knights: Robin Lehner – playoffs – 5-1, 2.44 GAA, .904 SV% (season – 19-10, 2.89, .920 SV%)

If this game was actually played in Las Vegas, then Markstrom could easily spend a few hours performing with Cirque du Soleil. The 30-year-old dazzled against Blues with an eye-opening array of acrobatic saves and an impressive 7-3 record. He’ll need to provide more of the same against a dangerous Vegas squad.

The Knights will likely roll with Robin Lehner, who has taken over the spot as Vegas’s starter in the crease—and rightfully so. Still, the Knights have the luxury of having Marc-Andre Fleury as their “backup.” The five-time All-Star matched an NHL record this season with his 14th consecutive playoff appearance.


Vancouver: Tyler Myers D (out), Tyler Toffoli RW (out), Micheal Ferland LW (out), Josh Leivo LW (out)

Vegas: Tomas Nosek LW (out)

Betting Trend to Know

Canucks are 0-6 in their last six Sunday games. Find the latest NHL betting trends for Canucks vs. Golden Knights.


The Canucks have been a force with the extra man during the postseason, converting 26.2% of their power plays. While the Knights are known for their offensive firepower, it’s their stingy defense that allows them to suffocate opponents—as evidenced by an 86.4% penalty kill during their playoff run. Vancouver is the only team in the league to never beat Vegas in regulation, going 0-11 all time. That’s something I just can’t ignore.

PREDICTION: Vegas ML (-175)


Each team is filled with loads of offensive talent. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller have combined for 11 goals thus far. Elias Pettersson has racked up 13 points, tied with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the playoff lead.

The Knights can match Vancouver’s scorers, but they’re more balanced—Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and Mark Stone have each lit the lamp four times during the postseason. The difference is on defense, where Vancouver has allowed the most high-danger chances of all remaining playoff teams.

PREDICTION: Over 5.5 (-110)


Though I like Vegas to win, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks kept it close and continued their offensive success. I’ll take a flyer on Vancouver scoring at least three goals.

PREDICTION: Canucks total goals Over 2.5 (-100)

Canucks vs Golden Knights Betting Card

  • Vegas ML (-175)
  • Over 5.5 (-110)
  • Canucks total goals Over 2.5 (-100)
NHL Parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed today’s NHL Canucks vs Golden Knights picks, you could win $104.93 on a $10 bet?

Use our NHL parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

Verlander injury shuffles Astros’ MLB futures odds

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MLB betting got a shake-up Sunday afternoon, specifically on World Series odds and AL pennant odds, with news that Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander could miss the rest of the season – or at least a significant chunk of it – with an arm injury.

Initial reports suggested Verlander had an elbow ailment, but both he and manager Dusty Baker quickly denied that. Baker called it a forearm strain and said that Verlander would be re-evaluated in “a couple of weeks.” The reigning AL Cy Young winner pitched a solid six innings in an 8-2 Opening Day rout of the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

Verlander’s injury led oddsmakers to shuffle futures book odds on the defending AL champions. Covers checked in on the MLB odds moves with a couple of Las Vegas sportsbooks.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ World Series odds?

At CG Technology books, risk analyst Rich Zanco said the Astros quickly moved from +1,200 to +1,800 in World Series futures. The SuperBook at Westgate also had Houston pegged +1,200 prior to Sunday’s news and initially went to +1,600, then dialed it a little further to +1,800.

However, there were apparently buyers on the Astros at that point, prompting the SuperBook to reel the price in to +1,400.

How does Verlander’s injury affect Astros’ American League odds?

In AL pennant futures, the Astros initially moved from +600 to +800 at The SuperBook, then ticked back to +700.

World Series odds

Team Odds to win
Los Angeles Dodgers +350
New York Yankees +350
Houston Astros +600
Atlanta Braves +1,600
Minnesota Twins +1,600
Tampa Bay Rays +1,800
Washington Nationals +2,000
Cleveland Indians +2,000
New York Mets +2,000
Chicago Cubs +2,000
Oakland Athletics +2,000
St. Louis Cardinals +2,500
Cincinnati Reds +2,500
San Diego Padres +2,500
Philadelphia Phillies +3,000
Chicago White Sox +3,000
Los Angeles Angels +3,000
Milwaukee Brewers +4,000
Boston Red Sox +5,000
Arizona Diamondbacks +6,000
Colorado Rockies +8,000
Toronto Blue Jays +10,000
Texas Rangers +10,000
Pittsburgh Pirates +20,000
Detroit Tigers +20,000
San Francisco Giants +30,000
Seattle Mariners +30,000
Miami Marlins +30,000
Baltimore Orioles +30,000
Kansas City Royals +30,000

Odds courtesy The SuperBook