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Top win contenders in 2020 Santa Anita Derby

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The Grade 1, $400,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park, moved back two months from its usual place on the calendar due to the suspension of racing in Southern California this spring, is one heck of a racing puzzle.

Watch the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, June 6 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Before the Santa Anita Derby, watch a special presentation of American Pharoah’s historic 2015 Belmont Stakes win from 4-6 p.m. on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The seven-horse field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve qualifying race is led by the undefeated colt Authentic, winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at this track when last seen three months ago. Authentic is trained by Bob Baffert, who won this race last year with Roadster and in 2018 with eventual Triple Crown winner Justify. Baffert also saddles Azul Coast, winner of the El Camino Real Derby on an all-weather surface in February, which was his most recent race. San Felipe runner-up Honor A. P. will try to improve and turn the tables on his rival, while last year’s Grade 1 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Anneau d’Or will try to reverse his fortunes from his two starts this year in which he finished ninth and fifth, respectively, most recently in a division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. New faces on the stakes scene include a pair of recent winners in Rushie and Shooters Shoot and recent runner-up Friar’s Road.

Honor A. P. stretched out to two turns last October at Santa Anita off a runner-up effort in his career debut sprinting and his pedigree showed through as he waltzed home to a 5 ¼-length win. Earning a sensational 105 Equibase Speed Figure for a 2-year-old maiden winner in the fall, Honor A. P. was given time off to mature and returned nearly five months later in the San Felipe Stakes to face Authentic, who had run much more recently in January. Chasing Authentic the entire length of the stretch, Honor A. P. held second easily to earn a 101 figure. Coming back to his pedigree, Honor A. P. is out of the sensational mare Hollywood Story, who earned more than $1 million while winning multiple Grade 1 stakes. She’s produced eight foals which have run well to date but this may be her best yet. Honor A. P. is by Honor Code, who earned $2.5 million and was also a multiple graded stakes winner. Honor Code is a son of Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner A.P. Indy, so there is little doubt Honor A. P. can handle the 1 1/8-mile trip of the Santa Anita Derby. Honor Code’s first crop of 3-year-olds is racing this year and one of them, Max Player, already proved himself at the distance of the Santa Anita Derby when winning the Withers Stakes in February. Considering Honor A. P. is very likely to improve in his second start as a 3-year-old, and that favorite Authentic may not improve as much and may have a harder time leading from start to finish as he did in the San Felipe, it appears Honor A. P. could win this year’s Santa Anita Derby.

Shooters Shoot is the horse I feel will be in front shortly after the gate opens in the Santa Anita Derby, and that may not only take Authentic out of his game, it may give Shooters Shoot a chance at posting the upset. Shooters Shoot didn’t run that well in his first four starts between August of last year and February, but when stretched out to two turns for the first time as a 3-year-old in March, he graduated from the maiden ranks with honors. Leading from start to finish in a one-mile race at Santa Anita, Shooters Shoot coasted home by 3 ¼ lengths to earn a 97 figure. Sent to Oaklawn Park to prep for the Arkansas Derby, Shooters Shoot next ran an incredible race going a mile as he battled head-and-head from the opening bell through swift in-race fractions and still prevailed by a neck. That effort earned a slightly lower 96 figure but it proved his mental toughness and athletic ability. Unfortunately, a few days before the Arkansas Derby the colt developed a fever and had to be scratched. Returning to trainer Peter Eurton’s base at Santa Anita, Shooters Shoot resumed training in mid-May and has been showing all the signs he’s in peak physical condition. Considering Authentic earned his wins in the Sham Stakes and San Felipe Stakes leading from start to finish, and since Shooters Shoot has drawn inside Authentic in the gate, Authentic will have a much harder time making the lead he appears to need to win if jockey Abel Cedillo (currently the second leading rider at Santa Anita) asks Shooters Shoot for some early speed. From that point, if Authentic tries to press Shooters Shoot, Shooters Shoot can still be a strong factor in the stretch having shown his tenacity in battling in his most recent start. It’s still more likely Honor A. P. can stalk in third early and go by to win, but nevertheless Shooters Shoot has a big shot to run well in this race.

Authentic is undefeated in three races and on that count alone can’t be discounted as a contender to win the Santa Anita Derby. Add to that, trainer Bob Baffert’s strong record in a race in which he’s saddled three of the last five and five of the last 11 winners, including Roadster last year and Justify in 2018. Authentic earned a field-high 113 Equibase Speed Figure winning the Sham Stakes in January, his second career start and first around two turns, beating next-out El Camino Real Derby winner Azul Coast in the process. Two months later in the San Felipe Stakes, Authentic controlled the pace from start to finish and won by a little over two lengths. However, he regressed to a 105 figure. Although continuing to work well since then, it’s interesting the colt has put in three straight six-furlong workouts, not the pattern one might expect from a totally fit horse. Then again, I am not questioning Baffert’s training regimen when so much of his success has come in 3-year-old stakes races like this one. My concern about Authentic lies in the fact that if he is indeed a need-the-lead type – and if Shooters Shoot utilizes his early speed, Authentic may find himself a bit out of his game. That, combined with a decline in his figure from his previous race, and the fact he will likely be the prohibitive betting favorite, means I will try to beat him when I make my bets in this race, although his winning would be no surprise.

The rest of the field, all with a chance to succeed with their top efforts, with their best Equibase Speed Figures, is Anneau d’Or (106 in 2019), Azul Coast (101 when second to Authentic in the Sham Stakes), Friar’s Road (92 when second to Shooters Shoot) and Rushie (101).

Win Contenders:

Honor A. P.

Shooters Shoot

Authentic

Watch the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, June 6 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Before the Santa Anita Derby, watch a special presentation of American Pharoah’s historic 2015 Belmont Stakes win from 4-6 p.m. on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Canucks vs Golden Knights picks and predictions for Game 1

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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.

Injuries

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.

MONEYLINE PICK

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)

OVER/UNDER PICK

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)

PROP PICK

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

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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