Finding comfort zone for 2019 Breeders’ Cup while eyeing huge payout

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Ask any handicapper and they’ll tell you nirvana in horse racing is actually spelled B-R-E-E-D-E-R-S-C-U-P.

It’s unquestionably the best two days of the year when it comes to shopping for value and chasing some gargantuan payoffs.

Yet, to be frank, those big paydays can be very elusive. So, come Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park, while there should be no fear in betting those 20-1 shots, there are times when betting the favorites makes all the sense in the world – especially in the sequence, or horizontal, wagers.

As much as $4 payoffs for a $2 bet are a tad vanilla, because of the larger fields in the Breeders’ Cup – and the willingness of some gamblers to go deep in some races searching for a live longshot – sometimes a very logical sequence will pay more than it would on a typical Wednesday at your favorite racetrack.

Let’s look at last year’s Breeders’ Cup as a guide.

If you liked Monomoy Girl ($5.60) in the Longines Distaff and Enable ($3.60) in the Longines Turf and bet them in the double you got $13.60 which wasn’t bad but wasn’t great either.

But if you played them in the Pick 3 with Mile winner Expert Eye ($13.80) then your Pick 3 return was a much better $99.60 for a $2 bet. If you used them to start the Pick 3 and concluded with Accelerate ($7.40) in the Classic your payoff was $75.60 for $2.

Again, these prices are hardly huge but attacking these sequences does not take a thick bankroll and accounted for a rather nice profit.

Beyond that, extending the length of the sequence does magnify the reward.

The Pick 4 with those four winners paid $631.80, which is great for ticket that included three winners that paid less than $8.

And if you took those three standouts in the final three races, added a handful of horses from the Mile and started with another three or four from the Sprint, including the victorious Roy H ($7.40), the Pick 5 returned $2,254.40.

As for this year, here’s the schedule: Filly and Mare Sprint, then Turf SprintBig Ass Fans Dirt MileMaker’s Mark Filly and Mare TurfSprintTVG MileDistaffTurf and Longines Classic.

There will be rolling doubles and Pick 3s, plus Pick 4s on the Filly and Mare Sprint, Turf Sprint, Dirt Mile, and Filly and Mare Turf; the Dirt Mile, Filly and Mare Turf, Sprint, and Mile; and Mile, Distaff, Turf, and Classic.

There’s also a Pick 5 with the Sprint, Mile, Distaff, Turf, and Classic.

Given some solid favorites such as Come Dancing or Covfefe (Filly and Mare Sprint), Omaha Beach (Dirt Mile), Sistercharlie (Filly and Mare Turf), Mitole and Imperial Hint (Sprint), Midnight Bisou (Distaff) and Bricks and Mortar and Magical (Turf), there are certainly plenty of opportunities to stay in your comfort zone and assemble a ticket that will not empty your wallet and will allow you to head home with a satisfied feeling that you turned a profit on racing’s biggest day.

And you did it without hitting a $50 winner.

Yes, it can happen. Even in the midst of the nirvana for handicappers.

Even in the midst of the Breeders’ Cup.

Watch NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup starting with Future Stars Friday on Nov. 1 from 4-8 p.m. ET (NBCSN) and continuing with Championship Saturday on Nov. 2 from 3:30-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN until 8, NBC from 8-9). 

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

MLB picks and predictions for Opening Day

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It was a long and scary road, but we finally get MLB betting back on Thursday, July 23. Opening Day of the pandemic-shortened 60-game baseball schedule is headlined by a pair of matchups, with the New York Yankees visiting the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers rekindling their rivalry with the San Francisco Giants.

Like we do each MLB season (COVID-19 or not), we’ll be taking a swing at today’s baseball odds and giving our best MLB picks and predictions. Up first: Opening Day 2020.

MLB picks for today

New York Yankees vs Washington Nationals

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was supposed to miss the start of the season back in the spring, but the delay to the 2020 campaign allowed the outfielder to heal up from broken ribs and return to his longball-launching self.

Judge looked great in New York’s warmup games, albeit for a limited number of at-bats. He went 3-for-7 with all three hits leaving the ballpark. And he wasn’t alone, with the Yankees’ other power bats providing plenty of pop around him in the order. He’ll get a chance to go yard again on Opening Day.

PREDICTION: Aaron Judge home run (+210)

San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Giants are no strangers to Clayton Kershaw, who has long dominated the Dodgers’ divisional foes. In 49 career appearances against San Francisco, The Claw is 23-12 with a 1.74 ERA and has allowed just 0.71 hits per innings pitched in those starts.

The Giants don’t pose much of an offensive threat, averaging 8.22 hits per game in 2019. San Francisco has managed 45 total hits in its last eight starts against Kershaw – an average of 0.86 hits per inning faced. Given the Dodgers’ ace looked ready for work in his tune-up efforts, we could see him go seven innings or more on Thursday, panning out to a little over six hits for San Fran.

PREDICTION: Giants between 6-7 total hits (+235)

Mookie Betts has reportedly landed a whale of a contract extension with the Dodgers after joining the ballclub this offseason via a trade with the Boston Red Sox. And what better way to lock down that deal than an impressive effort on Opening Day.

Betts recorded 313 total bases in 2019 (30th) and 353 in 2018 (fourth). He’s been swinging well in training sessions this offseason: in 27 at-bats during the spring/summer schedule, he has 13 total bases, including two doubles and a home run, while hitting leadoff during Summer Camp. We like that to continue into Opening Day.

PREDICTION: Mookie Betts two or more total bases (-182)

Top MLB consensus for today

Want to know who today’s biggest MLB betting and consensus bets are right now? Check out our top MLB consensus picks.

Opening Day betting card

  • Aaron Judge home run (+210)
  • Giants between 6-7 total hits (+235)
  • Mookie Betts two or more total bases (-182)