Mapping out a trifecta play for the Jaipur Stakes

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The Belmont Stakes isn’t the only major horse race taking place on Saturday at Belmont Park. Five other prestigious stakes races are on the agenda, including the $250,000, Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes Presented by America’s Best Racing, which serves as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland on Nov. 7.

Held at just three-quarters of a mile, the Jaipur is a test of speed on a blazingly fast turf course conducive to producing fast times. The Jaipur runs on Saturday, June 20 as an undercard to the Belmont Stakes.

NBC is home to the 152nd Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 20, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV and NBCSports.com before, during and after the main event. Coverage runs from 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. on NBC, just hours after NBC’s coverage of the final day of the Royal Ascot in England. Stream the 2020 Belmont Stakes here.

Three years ago, the talented Disco Partner won the Jaipur in the remarkable time of 1:05.67, setting a North American record.

But three-quarters of a mile is an unfamiliar ballgame for many turf sprinters. Most of the division’s biggest races are held at shorter distances, and running an extra sixteenth of a mile or two can make a big difference for pure speedsters accustomed to running virtually all-out from start to finish. Negotiating three-quarters of a mile requires a bit of nuance and pacing, as well as a subtle dose of stamina.

This could be a critical factor affecting the chances of #4 Pure Sensation, a 9-year-old veteran who has cracked the top three in 11 of his 13 races dating back to September 2017. The two exceptions were solid fifth-place efforts against tough competition in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and all told Pure Sensation has won 11 stakes races during his decorated career.

The Jaipur has been a summer target on Pure Sensation’s agenda three times in the past, and he actually nabbed first prize in 2016, holding off none other than Disco Partner to win by a neck in 1:06.76. But these days, Pure Sensation seems better running shorter — he hasn’t won a race longer than five-eighths of a mile since October 2016. In his last run at the Jaipur distance, Pure Sensation carved out the pace in the 2018 Belmont Turf Sprint Stakes, only to weaken in the final eighth of a mile and finish a distant third behind Disco Partner.

There isn’t much speed in the 2020 Jaipur field, so perhaps Pure Sensation can shake loose on an easy lead and stretch his speed farther than usual. But returning from a 7 1/2-month layoff is also a question mark, considering Pure Sensation is getting older and trainer Christophe Clement wins at just a 14% rate with horses returning from extended breaks.

If you’re searching for a runner who figures to thrive at the Jaipur distance, look no further than the lone female in the field, #2 Oleksandra. The 6-year-old mare by 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is 2-for-3 sprinting three-quarters of a mile, with both victories coming on the Belmont Park turf course. Just as importantly, Oleksandra has proven herself against a high level of competition, rallying to win the 2019 Grade 3 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes by two lengths over the classy stakes winners Morticia and Girls Know Best.

Oleksandra kicked off her 2020 campaign with a gallant runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes at Santa Anita, where she gained six lengths in the final eighth of a mile to fall just short of catching Brazilian Group 1 winner and heavy favorite Jolie Olimpica. Oleksandra figures to show improvement in her second start of the season, and stretching out to three-quarters of a mile should give this classy mare a little more time to unfurl her powerful closing strides.

The wildcard in the Jaipur field is #6 Hidden Scroll, who has shown flashes of brilliance while racing on dirt for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. After finishing off the board in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, the 4-year-old Hard Spun colt attempted to give turf a try in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Belmont. Unfortunately, Hidden Scroll stumbled severely at the start and unseated his rider before running off and completing the race for his own amusement.

Granted, Hidden Scroll was unencumbered by a jockey, but he seemed to handle grass just fine while sprinting to a commanding “early lead.” He’s also trained encouragingly on the turf course at Palm Meadows, and with his excellent tactical speed, Hidden Scroll figures to set or press a modest pace in the Jaipur. From there, he might just feel inclined to hang around and finish in the money.

#7 White Flag, the second sprinter hailing from the stable of Clement, is another who warrants respect after accumulating four wins, a second, and two thirds from seven starts on the grass at Belmont Park, including two wins and a second in three tries on this inner turf course. The son of War Front handles three-quarters of a mile just fine and has placed against Grade 1 company, but like stablemate Pure Sensation, he’s returning from a long layoff and might need to get a race under his belt before returning to peak form.

So how do we turn these opinions into a viable wagering strategy? Let’s focus our attention on Oleksandra, betting the mare to win and playing her in the top two slots of a trifecta. For the remaining slots, we’ll use Pure Sensation, Hidden Scroll, White Flag, and also #4 Stubbins, the stretch-running winner of the 2019 Grade 2 Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select.


Wagering Strategy on a $20 Budget

$8 to win on #2 Oleksandra

What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 9th race, $8 to win on #2

$0.50 trifecta: 2 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 9th race, $0.50 trifecta: 2 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7

$0.50 trifecta: 4,5,6,7 with 2 with 4,5,6,7 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 9th race, $0.50 trifecta: 4,5,6,7 with 2 with 4,5,6,7

Watch the 2020 Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 20 from 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET 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

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