WEEKLY DIGEST: Kentucky Downs and NFL Week 1

I dug that tweet back up and pinned it to my Twitter page because, for the next nine months, I go from “younger guy who knows Saratoga” to “younger guy a surprising amount of people in horse racing wish would go away.” No such luck.

I’ll be putting together weekly content focused on horse racing and the NFL. Perhaps I’ll also throw in some college football plays as the season rolls on. If there’s something you want to see in this space, let me know. I’m an easy guy to contact, and I want to do what I can to appeal to an audience that (I hope!) enjoyed my stuff for most of the summer.

This weekend’s horse racing action takes me to Kentucky Downs for a power-packed Saturday card. Meanwhile, it’s Week 1 in the NFL, and I’ve got some strong opinions there, too. Let’s dive in!

HORSE RACING: SATURDAY, SEPT. 10

Kentucky Downs, Race 4: One of my bigger plays of the day comes in this maiden race for fillies and mares. I’m very much against #7 HERINGTON ROCKET at her likely price. Perhaps she’s good enough to win, but she’s had chances in each of her last two outings in New York against suspect groups. Anything close to the 5/2 morning line hits me as an underlay.

I much prefer #3 HEDY LAMARR, who gets back to turf and has done her best running on that surface. As a 2-year-old last year, she chased Consumer Spending twice, ran second at Aqueduct, and then went to the sidelines for five months after a lackluster performance at Gulfstream. However, her comeback race at Churchill Downs was quite good, and a similar type of effort gives her a big chance here. 6-1 seems like a very fair price, and I’ll happily take it come post time.

Kentucky Downs, Race 7: This is the Grade 2 FanDuel Turf Sprint, and it’s drawn a field that includes #12 ARREST ME RED, one of the top horses in this division. His best race absolutely wins this, but the 9/5 morning line price seems short given the far outside post and the fact that he won’t be alone up front.

I’ll take a swing with #7 GREGORIAN CHANT. The 10-1 shot makes his local debut, but has run very well coming down the hill at Santa Anita. Form from that course often translates well to this one, and his form looks far better if you toss his two runs in the Grade 1 Jaipur the last two years. He probably just doesn’t like Belmont Park, and if he channels the races he’s run elsewhere, I think he’s got more than a puncher’s chance at springing an upset.

Kentucky Downs, Race 11: The Grade 3 Mint Ladies Sprint houses my last spot play, and it’s not #10 CAMPANELLE. I respect her talent, to be sure, but she’s crossed the wire first just once in the last two years.

I think the early pace will be pretty hot, and with that in mind, I want #6 TOBYS HEART, who was very impressive in victory here last year. She wants to sit back and make one big late run, and that running style should mesh well with the race shape. Add in that she’s shown an affinity for this course, one several of her rivals will be running over for the first time, and I think there’s a lot to like.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: WEEK 1

Colts -7 over Texans: This line opened with Indianapolis giving 8 1/2 points. It’s down to seven, and I cannot understand why. The Texans have significant issues at quarterback, and while rookie running back Dameon Pierce has significant steam, make no mistake about one thing: This is not a good football team.

The Colts, meanwhile, have won 20 games the last two years and have a legitimate chance to win the AFC South. I wouldn’t have been surprised if this was a double-digit spread. Seeing a number of just seven means I have to endorse Indianapolis in this spot.

Ravens -7 over Jets: In a similar vein, the New York Jets…stink. This is especially true of this version of Gang Green, which boasts a depleted offensive line and a backup quarterback.

I’m not the biggest believer in Baltimore. Lamar Jackson will need to rely on all of his skills with a roster lacking depth at the skill positions around him. However, the Ravens should be up to the task against a banged-up Jets team, and it’s another instance where the spread just seems too low.

Chargers/Raiders OVER 52: This should be a lot of fun to watch. Both teams have explosive offenses that can put up points in a hurry. Both teams also have secondaries with lots of question marks. I’m expecting a fair amount of big plays from both sides, and I’ll happily sit back and root for as many points as each team can muster.

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