Saturday was a loooooong day with a huge Kentucky Derby card at Churchill Downs, NBA and NHL playoffs, MLB, USFL and even a shocking boxing upset late Saturday night.
Personally, I started the day at the Tuley’s Takes home office posting this “Tuley’s Takes Today column early in the morning and then updating my “Team Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes” column after Saturday’s early scratches (I was on a high from Friday when I gave out Secret Oath as the 4-1 winner of the Kentucky Oaks and was hoping to cap the weekend by completing the double in the Kentucky Derby). I then drove the 4.5 hours from my home in North Las Vegas to Flagstaff, Ariz., as I’m bringing my oldest child, Jordyn, home for the summer after completing sophomore year at Northern Arizona University. The day wiped me out so much that I apologize for this late post on Sunday morning.
Back to Saturday, I had made all my horse racing bets on the day before leaving home, and only listened to the undercard thanks to the race-calling skills of my friend, Ed Sehon (aka “Mr. Ed”). I arrived in Flagstaff in time for the Derby, adding “Dirty Birdies” to my varied list of places I’ve watched the Derby over the years. It sounds like a strip club, but it’s a sports bar and grill, complete with an OTB section (smallest one I’ve ever seen, but it works).
You all know me as a longshot bettor, and I’m the most forgiving handicapper I know when it comes to believing longshots have a chance, but even I couldn’t make a case for Rich Strike, who pulled off the second-biggest upset in Derby history at 80-1. It was a shocking result as #21 Rich Strike wasn’t even in the field until Ethereal Road (who I had a 135-1 ticket on and wish now that he had been given a chance to run!) was scratched before the 9 a.m. ET Friday deadline.
Gambling Twitter was full of people calling it a travesty as they felt cheated by this unlikeliest of upsets. Of course, most of that was coming from those who bet the top contenders who have much better resumes in their past performances. Even though I didn’t cash a penny, I kind of felt vindicated by Rich Strike’s victory as at least I’m always looking for horses with hidden form that shows them as improving that the general public is going to overlook. I just landed on the wrong longshots, but at least my upside is better than the chalk players. More on Rich Strike’s win in the recap section below.
As for my sports bets, I lost my Best Bet on the Grizzlies + 7 at the Warriors. That dropped our record to 50-33-1 ATS (60.2 percent) the past 84 days (that’s 12 full weeks starting with Super Sunday).
We did better with our secondary plays as we had the Penguins + 110 vs. the Rangers in their 7-4 victory, plus the White Sox + 100 at the Red Sox and Rockies -105 at the Diamondbacks. I also made the right call in not fading the Reds vs. the Pirates as they won Game 1 of their doubleheader (and we feel like we dodged a bullet as we have bet them in Game 2 as a swagger play after snapping their 9-game losing streak, but we were too busy rushing to Flagstaff).
Let’s recap the rest of Saturday’s betting results on an action-packed day and then try to find some winners on Sunday.
Rich Strike won the Run For the Roses at 80-1, paying $184.90 for a $2 Win bet for the second-biggest price in the Derby’s 148 runnings behind only Donerail (91-1 for a Win payout of $184.90) in 1913. Rich Strike was also the longest shot in Saturday’s field from the No. 21 outside post after only drawing into the race on Friday morning. Rich Strike closed strong (he was still in 18th place, just ahead of 2 runners) with 3 furlongs to go in the 9-furlong race, but he benefited from the fastest pace in Derby history (21.78 seconds for the opening quarter mile) and weaved his way through the field and closed on the rail to beat the favorite, Epicenter, by three-quarters of a length. The $2 Exacta of Rich Strike-Epicenter paid $4,101.20, with the $.50 Trifecta with Rich Strike-Epicenter-Zandon paid $7,435.35 and the $1 Superfecta on Rich Strike-Epicenter-Zandon-Simplification paid a whopping $321,500.10.
Warriors (-7) routed Grizzlies 142-112 to take 2-1 lead in their 2nd-round series as the game flew Over the betting total of 225.5 points. Earlier, Bucks (-2.5) beat Celtics 103-101, but did NOT cover vs. consensus closing line (game stayed Under 211.5). Faves/home teams went 2-0 SU but 1-1 ATS on Saturday with Over/Unders splitting 1-1.
Faves are 10-2 SU this round but only 8-4 ATS, 40-15 SU and 33-22 ATS (60 percent) overall. Home teams are 10-2 SU and ATS this round and lead 34-21 SU but just 28-27 ATS. The zig-zag went 1-1 ATS on Saturday (Bucks didn't cover, the Warriors did), 5-3 ATS in round, 21-22 ATS overall. Unders are 7-5 in this round, 34-21 (61.8 percent) overall.
Underdogs went 3-1 with upsets by the Capitals (+ 166 in 6-1 rout vs. Panthers to take 2-1 series lead), Penguins (+ 100 in 7-4 win vs. Rangers to take 2-1 lead and Stars (+ 145 in 4-2 win vs. Flames). The Avalanche (-240) beat Predators 7-3 for 3-0 lead. Overs went 4-0.
Faves' lead dips to 13-11 SU so far in playoffs (11-13 on -1.5 puck line). The lower seeds (all at home) went 3-1 Saturday as home teams improved to 14-10. The zig-zag theory (not usually associated with the NHL playoffs) is 10-6. Overs improved to 15-9 (7-1 in the last 2 days).
Faves went 9-5 with the Brewers-Braves game closing pick-’em. The upsets were by the Reds (+ 105 vs. Pirates, Game 1, to snap 9-game losing streak), Nationals (+ 140 at Angels), Indians (+ 115 vs. Blue Jays), Rockies (+ 106 at D-backs) and Marlins (+ 104 at Padres). Road teams 9-6. Overs 10-5.
Faves lead 247-150 SU (62.2 percent) on the season with 8 games closing pick-'em. Faves usually win closer to 59 percent SU. Home teams' lead is down to 208-197 after going 6-9 Saturday. Unders' lead dipped further to 211-176-18 (54.5 percent) after Overs led 10-5 Saturday.
Dmitry Bivol beat Canelo Alvarez by unanimous decision late Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the WBA light heavyweight title. The ViewFromVegas is Bivol closed as a + 400 underdog (high of + 450 at Westgate SuperBook. The "will go" (aka “Over”) 10.5 rounds cashed.
Stallions (-2.5) won and covered in 16-10 win vs. Bandits to remain the only undefeated USFL team at 4-0. Earlier, the Generals (-9.5) beat the Maulers 21-13, but did NOT cover. Faves went 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS on Saturday and lead 10-5 SU on the season but are tied 7-7-1 ATS. Over/Unders split 1-1 Saturday and Unders lead 9-6.
Heat + 1.5 at 76ers:
As noted above, zig-zag plays are 5-3 ATS so far in the second round of the NBA playoffs, though we’ve been just trading money. The Heat are the play Sunday after losing Game 3 on Friday as the 76ers got a lift from Joel Emiid’s return as the masked man. But the Heat are still the better team, so we expect the zig-zag to work here as Jimmy Butler and Co. should be able to rebound and take a 3-1 lead back to South Beach. I’m passing on the Mavericks + 2 with the Suns in the zig-zag role (note the impact of the zig-zag as the Mavericks were -1 in Game 3 on Friday, but now flips to Suns -2 after the Mavs won).
Hurricanes + 115 at Bruins:
After winning with the Penguins on Saturday, we’re emboldened with our NHL underdogs, so we’ll take the Hurricanes to bounce back (zig-zag is 10-6, as we pointed out above) and take control back in this series.
As we’ve stated the past couple of days, we’re going on principle as we’re taking the Rangers + 190 at the Yankees in Game 1 of their doubleheader on Sunday. This is an anti-swagger play against the Yankees as they had their 11-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday. It’s watered down after a scheduled day off on Thursday and postponed games on Friday and Saturday. We also have a swagger play on the Marlins + 140 at the Padres as they just snapped a 7-game losing streak. And I’ll also fire back on the Rockies + 135 at the Diamondbacks and the White Sox + 135 at the Red Sox (FYI: that’s an early start at 11:35 a.m. ET/8:35 a.m. PT).
Good luck today (and every day!).