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.
The opening week of the college football season features some top matchups. Let’s take a quick look at a couple on September 5 and make our picks.
First up is Louisville versus Auburn (- 10 ½ ) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. This is a very interesting battle between birds that could see some feathers flying. Cardinal coach Bobby Petrino is no stranger to the SEC as he enjoyed four seasons at Arkansas (2008-11). Auburn (5) is highly ranked with 8 returning starters on defense and that fast break rushing offense. The War Eagles may be ripe for plucking here as Petrino teams can usually always score a bunch. Take the Cards and the points!
Staying in the SEC let’s take a quick look at Alabama (-11) versus Wisconsin in Dallas. This version of the Big 10-SEC challenge has the feel of a game played in January. Both teams are physical by nature, so who imposes their will here? Bama is ranked number 2 despite returning only 2 starters on offense, but is this the same rip your head off and do business down your neck Tide of years past? The Badgers averaged 320 yards rushing and 34 points per game in 2014. Again, take the points and the underdog. Cheese heads for the money.
So, on to the finish line and a couple of pony picks. We all love a slam dunk, but those can be few and far between. A talented field of two-year old fillies are lining up for the Del Mar Debutante in the 9th race on September 5. Pretty N Cool is unbeaten in two career starts, both at the Seaside Oval, and trainer Bob Baffert has had a lot of success in the past (7 wins in the Debutante) with his youngsters at Del Mar. We may not bet the mortgage here, but we will wager the moonshine still. This daughter of Scat Daddy looks pretty tough in this 7 furlong race and is 2 to 1 on the morning line.
Next up is Saratoga and the grade 1 Woodward Stakes at a mile and an eighth. Todd Pletcher has 4 of the 8 entrants with one of them being morning line favorite Liam’s Map (6 to 5). I like a couple of his other horses across the board. Protonico has won his last two starts but has been off since May 1. At 12-1 on the morning line he could deliver with a second or third place finish and maybe even win. Then there is Mylute which is exactly what we want to add to here. With Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons and a knack for finishing close, 15 to 1 on the morning line means across the board all day.
If you take these picks into account, all I can say is…GOOD LUCK!