Best Bets of the Weekend
Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes – Friday 5/20/16
The top race of the weekend for fillies features two runners returning from the Kentucky Oaks. It’s an enormous field of 14 runners but it looks right now to be just a two-horse race. #3 Land Over Sea, the 2nd place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks, squares off against #5 Go Maggie Go, the 4th place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks. This is an interesting race because though Land Over Sea did finish runner-up in the Oaks, it was a blanket finish that needed a photo to separate 2nd through 4th. Of course, Go Maggie Go was the late runner who missed by a neck and ran 4th. She also got an awful trip so for it to be that close at the end only suggests that we will see another close one here. Only one horse can win so who will be the Queen of Pimilco this year?
Pick: #5 Go Maggie Go 5/2 ML odds
It pains me to go against Land Over Sea as I’ve been a huge advocate of that horse after she repeatedly ran respectable seconds to Songbird all winter. But I can’t get the finish of the Kentucky Oaks out of my head. She was flying and with a little more track, she runs down Land Over Sea. She’s shown the ability to run both from off the pace and right up on the pace. It will be interesting to see what she does here. Land Over Sea is a straight closer so we can expect her to sit mid-pack before making a run. Go Maggie Go has the advantage of breaking to her outside so she will have a clear shot outside her if they both decide to lay off the pace. Doug O’Neill can’t win everything, so I’m either riding him this weekend or going against him. As you probably already saw from my Preakness Stakes preview, I’m going against him. Look for Go Maggie Go to have something in reserve late and hold off Land Over Sea.
- #5 Go Maggie Go
- #3 Land Over Sea
- #2 Dothraki Queen
5-3 Exacta, 3-5 Exacta. Play both.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors – Saturday 5/21/16
Can anybody beat Cleveland? The Cavaliers have been by far the most impressive team this postseason. Are they finding their stride at the right time or have they just been playing us all season? Either way, this team looks primed for a shot at the title. The Toronto Raptors have played like a team that’s just happy to be there but there is no denying Toronto home games are a different animal. The crowd shows up every night in T Dot and it’s one of the better home court advantages in basketball. The Raptors are also 2-0 in Game 3’s so far this postseason and 3-1 in Game 3’s the least 3 seasons. But I’m not sure anything can faze Lebron and the Cavaliers at this point.
Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers -5
Sorry Drake, I’m taking the Cavs to cover. One stat that jumped out at me is that the Cavaliers have covered in 9 of their 10 playoff games so far this postseason. It’s an amazing number. This team looks unstoppable and I really think they are going into the Finals sweeping the entire East. It would be a fitting end to a very mediocre and overrated conference. LeBron is at the peak of his powers and Toronto has no answer. I’ve tried to even think about a scenario or gameplan the Raps can counter with. Lowry is never going to outplay Kyrie to the point that it’s going to make a real difference. Derozan might as well not even be playing right now. They really miss Jonas Valanciunas because Tristan Thompson is having a field day on the glass. The Cavaliers are just flat out better than the Raptors in every aspect of the game and I don’t think it’s close. Take the Cavaliers to cover the rest of the way because a sweep is coming.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning – Friday 5/20/16
Pivotal Game 4 as the Tampa Bay Lightning try to avoid going down 3-1 in this series. Tampa Bay is a little unlucky as they were right there in Game 2 and if a few bounces go their way, maybe they were up 2-0 heading into Game 3. Of course, a ton of late scoring happened in that one and the Penguins took control of the series winning 4-2. This has been an incredibly close series with the overtime game and then the scoreless first 39 minutes last game. Stamkos is still unlikely for Game 4 and I know a lot of Tampa fans were hoping for an early return. The Lightning were doing fine without him and now it’s starting to feel more and more that they need his offense. 2 goals a game isn’t going to cut it against Pittsburgh.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning +125
I’m going to trust Tampa Bay isn’t going to lose both home games. It’s been too tight and too well played so far to not be a long series. Both teams are undefeated in Game 4’s in this playoff. Pittsburgh has won every second away game in this postseason and Tampa Bay has won every second home game in this postseason. There really isn’t much when trying to find an edge. I expect the Lightning to come out like their playoff lives are on the line and get the job done at home. Total gut call but I can’t trust anything else between these two.
Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets – Friday 5/20/16
The Milwaukee Brewers begin a 6 game road trip tonight in New York where they take on the Mets. Milwaukee will send out Wily Peralta (7.30 ERA, 1.99 WHIP) against a Mets lineup and their starting pitcher Steven Matz (2.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP). The Brewers come in on a mini hot-streak, having taken 2 of 3 from the NL-leading Chicago Cubs and winning 4 of their last 6 games overall. The New York Mets are struggling as of late, losing 6 of their last 7 games. Pitching has been a problem for them as they’ve given up over 5 runs a game in that stretch.
Pick: New York Mets -1.5 +110
The Mets can’t lose forever, just like the Brewers can’t win forever. I like to focus on pitchers when gambling on baseball and how they fare against opposing hitters. Obviously Peralta is not having a good year but it gets worse when you dive into the matchup numbers. The current Mets lineup is hitting .356 career against Peralta. It’s not just a small sample size either, this is over 45 AB’s. Three different players are hitting over .600 against him. On the flip side, Brewers hitters have never faced Matz. I think the Mets are going to put up runs and finally put an end to this skid. Back the Mets and trust the numbers.
ATP Nice Finals: Dominic Thiem vs. Alexander Zverev – Sunday 5/22/16
It’s a tennis fan’s dream matchup in the Nice Final as it features a couple of “next generation” stars. Dominic Thiem, the world 15 from Austria, takes on Alexander Zverev, the world 48 from Germany, for the title. Thiem at just 22 years old and Zverev at just 19 are considered the next wave of future in champions in the game of tennis. These two have actually faced off before and it happened earlier this year in Munich. Thiem won in 3 sets so you can expect another close battle here in France. Thiem is here after straight set wins against a couple of Top 50 players in Seppi and Mayer and knocking off the hometown fan favorite Adrian Mannarino. He’s been playing exceptional tennis this year as he continues to climb the rankings. Alexander Zverev is also enjoying his best year as a pro and a career high ranking. He had a different route here as he’s had to grind out a 3 set victories in every match, one against a Frenchman and world top 20 in Gilles Simon.
Pick: Dominic Thiem -230
Hard to pick against the Austrian at the moment. He is no doubt further along in his development than Zverev. He’s already made 4 ATP finals in 2016 and won 2 titles. He is the real deal and it’s not going to be long before he cracks the Top 10. A victory here would help. Clay is the best surface for both of these players even though they have different styles. Thiem is very athletic and creative with his shotmaking. He gets to a lot of balls so the slow surface helps him. Zverev is a big lanky guy who packs a big serve and forehand. He is a bit inconsistent with it at times as you’d imagine from a 19 year old. I think that this will be the biggest factor in this matchup as when the time comes, the more experienced Thiem will feast on those mistakes. It’s Dominic Thiem’s time to shine right now and we know he can handle the moment. I expect a close match, maybe even 3 sets again between these two with Thiem coming out on top. We’re gonna have to pay a little bit with the odds but it’s worth it. Austria over Germany, it’s like the Sound of Music all over again.
Until next week – so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye….