FOOTBALL AND FINISH LINES
This time of year, sports fans should be thinking about two things primarily…and no, what cousin Cletus has in that mason jar is not one of them!
September means the kickoff of college football. It also means the home stretch in the run to the greatest two-day sporting event in the world, the Breeders’ Cup. So as a follower of the sporting world and a believer in speculation, the two things you look for are some fabulous football and the finish line at the track.
Being a member of the college football writer’s association and having covered the sport since 1994, we are going to pick a gridiron gimme or two. As an avid pony prognosticator and a voting member in the NTRA weekly poll, a horsey have-to will also be included. But now remember, the best way to not lose money while speculating on the pigskin or the ponies is simple… don’t bet! But hey, where is the fun in that?
Without further ado here goes.
So here goes week two and the gridiron choices. Tennessee (23) welcomes Oklahoma (19) to Neyland Stadium for a matchup between ranked teams. It is just the fourth meeting between these two traditional powers all-time with the Sooners holding a 2-1 advantage. Oklahoma downed the Volunteers 34-10 in Norman last year and are a solid 3 point favorite for this one. This is a measuring stick game for the Big Orange without question. Vol coach Butch Jones said he wants to see a more physical approach from his team and that will be a must against a talented team like OU. I’m a believer in Butch and the Big Orange. Take Tennessee in the upset.
Remaining in the SEC, we are going with a favorite this time. South Carolina (-9) hosts Kentucky in a battle of teams trying to get a leg up in the Eastern division with an early season win. The old ball coach (Steve Spurrier) can still do it and 8 returning starters on defense could make life difficult for an improving Wildcat squad. The Cats are better under third year coach Mark Stoops, but like brother Bob, he too will taste defeat.
Now, it is on to the ponies. The end of the Del Mar and Saratoga meets means fall is a coming and the Breeders’ Cup is not far away. We will begin at Kentucky Downs and take a look at the 9th race. Let’s Go Ben is at 20-1 on the morning line, so why is he our choice. Trainer Charlie LoPresti deserves some good luck after the Wise Dan retirement announcement for one. He won his last race, which was a sprint (5 furlongs), on the Churchill Downs turf on May 15. Most importantly, he has Frenchman Flavien Prat in the irons. Prat has never ridden at Kentucky Downs, but he was an outstanding apprentice in France so has familiarity with this style of course and he is one of the hottest jocks in the game right now. Let’s Go Ben means a nice payday!
Churchill Downs is our next stop as we want to take a look at the mile and a sixteenth Locust Grove Stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up. Let’s get a little adventurous and step on out with an exacta box. Keen Pauline (5 to 1) is Dale Romans trained and flat likes to run. She won the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico in gate-to wire fashion when allowed to cruise on the early lead. Couple her with 2013 Locust winner Flashy American (10 to 1) for a nice piece of the pie. Flashy American has leading Churchill Downs jock Corey Lanerie in the irons, but most of all she sure is pretty!
The best thing I can say if you take my advice is…Good Luck!