Early-week plays at Sam Houston
With only a slight chance of showers both days, I’m optimistic all races will remain on turf.
Here is how I will be playing Sam Houston:
Race 4: #3 Caberneigh figures to be overbet (7-5 morning line) stepping up to a tougher spot after coming up a little short at short odds in the last two and #4 Mr Lexis (2-1) isn’t in top form presently. I like the chances of #5 Escalate (10-1), who displayed good turf form last summer and appears to be rounding back into peak condition following a couple of close efforts versus decent fields. The 5yo gelding should be stalking in midpack in his 3rd start off the layoff and can get the jump on the late runners.
The bet: $10 Win & Place 5; $5 exactas 5 over 3,4 ($30)
Race 5: After dueling on contested paces in his last two start at Sam Houston, #2 Unresolved (5-1) appears to receive a much more favorable set-up today. Like the Steve Asmussen runner wire-to-wire from rail post.
The bet: $20 Win 2; $5 exactas 2 over 3,5 ($30)
Race 9: #1 Okie Chieftan (8-5) has relished the class drop to this level as lone speed in the last two starts but the gelding switches to a low-percentage barn and could face outside pressure today. #4 Hundred Proof (7-2) can sit the right trip just behind the speed and the Sam Houston specialist (5-2-1-2) looks poised to pick up another local win.
The bet: $20 Win 4; $5 exactas 4 over 7,8 ($30)
Race 3: #6 Plaska (4-1) can get the day off to a winning start. A convincing winner already this meet, he possesses superior BRIS Early Pace ratings and the class hike the $7,500 could help keep his price from being too low. I like the 5yo gelding wire to wire.
The bet: $20 Win 6; $5 exactas 6 over 4,5 ($30)
Race 7: 10-horse field has three front-runners, including Show Bound (9-5) in an outside post, and #8 Hundred Years (7-2) appears to be sitting on a win after opening the year with a couple of nice placings over track, recording top BRIS Speed and Pace numbers in those efforts.
The bet: $20 Win 8; $5 exactas 8 over 2,7 ($30)
Race 10: Willing to play against expected favorites with #8 Free Gift With Ad (10-1), who returns to a turf route. 4yo filly recorded a neck second in last two-turn turf test and finished a solid third versus open maidens in 2017 finale at Retama. Her last effort – a seventh in a 5 ½-furlong allowance – simply a tightener for this spot. Appears capable of firing at a price.
The bet: $20 Win & Place 8 ($40)
Good luck at Sam Houtston!