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Making money betting Elate in the Spinster Stakes

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The $500,000, Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes on Oct. 6 at Keeneland drew a small, but superb field of five fillies and mares.

While the small field could make it challenging to cash a big ticket, from a sporting perspective, you’d be hard-pressed to find a higher-quality race anywhere in the country this weekend.

Four Grade 1 winners plus a Grade 3 winner will contest the 1 1/8-mile Spinster, which offers a “Win and You’re In” qualifying berth to the Nov. 2 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita.

With so much on the line, the Spinster will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 4:30 p.m. ET — be sure to tune in and watch!

At first glance, you can make a case for every horse in the Spinster field. Dunbar Road (#1) is a rising star among 3-year-old fillies, decisively winning the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes and Grade 1 Alabama Stakes during a productive summer campaign. In the Alabama, she easily defeated Street Band, who came back to win the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes in her next start.

Then there’s Blue Prize (#2), who prevailed in the 2018 Spinster despite ducking out sharply in the homestretch. A consistent 6-year-old daughter of Pure Prize, Blue Prize remains in sharp form this year and enters off a victory in the 1 1/8-mile Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga.

Vexatious (#3), runner-up by a neck in the Summer Colony, has been campaigned primarily on turf, but the switch to dirt for the Summer Colony enabled her to post a career-best 103 Brisnet Speed Figure. That shouldn’t be surprising since Vexatious is a full-sister to 2016 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes runner-up Destin and 2014 Preakness Stakes third-place finisher Creative Cause — Vexatious has plenty of dirt breeding.

Even She’s a Julie (#4) has her merits. Although she lost three straight races over the summer, She’s a Julie hit the board on every occasion and easily defeated Blue Prize in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs during the spring.

But despite the presence of all these high-quality fillies and mares, I’m confident Elate (#5) will have no difficulty reaching the winner’s circle on Sunday. On her best day, this daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is simply at another level compared with her four Spinster opponents. When finishing second by a nose to Midnight Bisou in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes on Aug. 24 at Saratoga, Elate pulled 8 ¾ lengths clear of She’s a Julie. And when romping to victory in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 13 at Delaware Park, Elate left Blue Prize 4 ½ lengths behind while coasting to the finish.

As I noted earlier this week when using history to handicap the Spinster Stakes, Elate perfectly matches the historical profile of a typical Spinster winner. And as well as Elate performed in the Personal Ensign, coming up a nose short against division leader Midnight Bisou, I believe Elate’s effort was even more impressive than it appears.

On the day of the Personal Ensign, the inside portion of the main track at Saratoga was decidedly “dead” — slow and tiring compared with the rest of the track. When Elate seized a clear lead coming off the far turn, she unfortunately drifted down toward the rail, and racing over the slower part of the track very likely contributed to her weakening in the final strides to be caught by Midnight Bisou.

Assuming Elate encounters a fair track on Sunday, I expect her to score a convincing victory in the Spinster. That would be good news for racing fans, because trainer Bill Mott has indicated Elate could face males in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic if she runs well in the Spinster, an exciting proposition that would add a great deal of intrigue to the Breeders’ Cup.

So let’s key Elate on top in our wagers, requiring her to win in order to cash a ticket. If you want to keep your wagers inexpensive and simple, a win bet is an obvious choice, though not a particularly rewarding one since Elate will be the favorite. If you want to shoot for a bigger score, I suggest playing a trifecta with Elate on top and Blue Prize and Dunbar Road underneath.

Wagering Strategy A

$20 to win on #5 Elate

What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 9th race, $20 to win on 5

Wagering Strategy B

$10 trifecta: 5 with 1,2 with 1,2 ($20)

What to say at the betting window: Keeneland, 9th race, $10 trifecta 5 with 1,2 with 1,2

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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.