Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/14/20

RECORD: 10-3

Friday night is a special night in horse racing. It’s the annual Beemie Awards, a smorgasbord of smartassery for racing fans on social media, and it’s always a blast. It’s organized by Jason Beem and a trio of his friends (who take pride in going unidentified), and whether the Beemies are your thing or not, there are a few concepts they hit on that I think we can all agree with.

Sports, and the discussions they foster, are diversions. At their best, they provide an escape from all of the struggles real life brings to the table, ones that seem to grow more and more daunting every year (seriously, just turn on the news). Every once in a while, someone hits on something that works and is able to provide people moments of laughter and joy. Those moments come around far too infrequently, and I think they should be celebrated when they do.

Jason Beem (and, for that matter, at least one of his unidentified friends) probably didn’t like me a whole lot for a while, but I’ve always liked him. I’ve always appreciated his passion for horse racing and the drive he has to play a positive role in its future. He’s a darned good announcer, but an even better person. I’m grateful for the role the Beemies play in bringing everyone together for a few hours every year, and it’s why I’ll get suited up, hit the Beemie Awards red carpet, sit in my seat, get shut out of all of the awards, and entertain folks at the after-party.

(PS: As much as I like Jason, and as much as I’ll appreciate everything the Beemies do, I’ve never forgotten getting passed over for the 2017 Mike Joyce Award for Handicapping Bravery and Excellence. “Bet With Kevin” winning that award was a crime akin to “Crash” winning Best Picture.)

MONDAY’S RESULT: LSU didn’t get off to the best of starts against Clemson, but when the SEC champs turned it on, the ACC champs didn’t have answers. As an aside, not being able to use team mascots because both teams are the Tigers is a real problem.

TUESDAY’S PLAY: This section is going to be dominated by college basketball over the next few months. I’m headed to Big 10 country and focusing on Iowa’s trip to Northwestern. The Hawkeyes can be streaky, for sure, but the homestanding Wildcats are one of the lesser teams in the conference, and they’re only getting 5.5 points. I think Iowa’s got way too many weapons, and that they should win comfortably.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/13/20

RECORD: 9-3

Racing’s nightmare is now next door to your fearless scribe. I’m joking, but only partially.

Golden Gate Fields, located a half-hour away from the Champagne compound, has started taking Runhappy money, and it’s starting to sound similar to what’s happening at Santa Anita, where the video feed is, at times, completely unwatchable due to the over-the-top graphics and things those on air have to read.

This makes me wonder what the endgame is. Those in the breeding business know Runhappy is out there as a sire and standing at Claiborne. What money is there to be made from slapping his name on every track and major stakes race that exists in this country? It’s getting to where I’m convinced someone at Team Runhappy is exercising some sort of tax break by pumping tons of money in every possible direction.

Additionally, at some point the notoriously grumpy horse racing fanbase is going to revolt. When do we start hearing talks of big players betting tracks simply because their video feeds don’t feature non-stop sponsorship reads and provide a more pleasant viewing experience? Boycotts have been organized on far less in the past. Don’t rule this out.

SUNDAY’S RESULT: Like everyone else who had the Chiefs giving points, I was shellshocked when Houston jumped out to a big lead early. However, the Chiefs turned the tide and wound up covering the 9.5-point spread with room to spare.

MONDAY’S PLAY: Tonight’s my last chance to give out a college football play until August, so I’m taking full advantage of it. LSU locks up with Clemson for the national championship, and the representatives of the bayou look awfully tough to beat. They’re 5.5-point favorites, and I think they’re a better team than that, so I’ll take LSU to cover the spread.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/12/20

RECORD: 8-3

If you ever want to drive yourself crazy, go on Twitter and seek out conversations among horseplayers centering around takeout and breakage. If you winced reading those terms, you’re not alone. These conversations will leave you with headaches if you’re not careful.

There are very few things worse on horse racing Twitter than people who complain about takeout and then don’t play sequences with low takeout. This is why I feel it important to remind you that Sam Houston Race Park just started its 2020 season. In addition to its announcer’s booth housing good friend Chris Griffin, its wagering menu boasts an ultra-low takeout of 12% on multi-race exotics (such as the Pick Five and Pick Four).

If these pools are robust, other tracks are going to notice, and it could create a much-improved environment for horseplayers. Canterbury Park tried drastically-reduced takeouts once, and that didn’t take, for whatever reason. I’m going to be looking at these races and taking shots when I have some confidence. If you’re a takeout hawk, and you’re serious about putting your money where your mouth is, you should, too.

Oh, and Saturday night went pretty well for me, too.

 

SATURDAY’S RESULT: Villanova and Georgetown made me sweat the total a bit. However, while Villanova’s offense looked rejuvenated in the win, the Hoyas struggled just enough to bring the total to 146, which meant my “under 147.5” play was a winner.

SUNDAY’S PLAY: It’s back to the NFL for me, and I’ll focus on the first game in Sunday’s playoff doubleheader. The Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans and are favored by 9.5 points. That’s not a small spread, but I think Houston’s playing with house money at this point. Add in that the Chiefs are at home and have enjoyed a week of rest, and I think they’re going to be very tough to stop. I’ll give the points with KC and hope it doesn’t come back to bite me.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/11/20

RECORD: 7-3

It’s official: I’m making my first visit to the Blue Grass State this April. Several of my best friends in the game have made the unfortunate mistake of opening their home to me as I make my maiden voyage to Keeneland, play overly competitive board games, and (arguably most importantly) eat lots of food.

I’m excited for the trip, and if you’ll be at Keeneland on Saturday, April 11th, chances are you’ll see me around filming stuff for my YouTube channel. If you do, come say hi! It’s going to be a great time, and hopefully it comes complete with a few winning tickets.

FRIDAY’S RESULT: Unfortunately, Iona played probably their best game of the season to date. The Gaels were 6.5-point underdogs at Rider, but wound up winning outright. Somehow, this is Rich Ensor’s fault.

SATURDAY’S PLAY: As much as I’d like to bet some NFL playoffs action, it’ll have to wait until Sunday, as I’m just not in love with the Saturday slate. Instead, my focus is on an old-school Big East college basketball showdown, as Georgetown heads to Villanova for a 12 pm Eastern tilt. Both offenses have been sputtering a bit of late. The “under” is 6-1 in Villanova’s last seven games and 5-1 in Georgetown’s last six, which makes the 147.5 total perplexing. I’m taking the “under” here, as even a 75-65 game is a cover with room to spare.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/10/20

RECORD: 7-2

You know, I had something planned for this section out of a weird combination of incredulousness and a hearty sense of humor. I posted my chat with Gino Buccola on social media yesterday, and it was responded to in a fashion that I found…strange.

I had planned to write something here that eviscerates Damian Sasso. However, due to recent developments, I can’t do that.

Life’s too short to get wrapped up in nonsense on Twitter. There are times where horse racing Twitter has been the weirdest community I’ve ever been part of, and this is coming from a guy whose college friend group routinely sings, “I Want It That Way,” by the Backstreet Boys, at weddings and social functions where microphones are present.

Strong opinions and an environment that minimizes accountability are a combustible mixture. Given a few things I saw Thursday night, it’s not one I have any interest contributing anything fiery to.

I still think the tweet was a puzzling reaction, but you know what? Damian Sasso is entitled to his opinions as much as I’m entitled to mine. I hope he’s well, and if I ever run into him at a racetrack, he’s got a beverage of his choosing on me. Additionally, I hope a lot of people in racing who may be reading this find whatever peace they’re looking for.

THURSDAY’S RESULT: My logic wasn’t bad with College of Charleston, as the Cougars did indeed go on the road to beat Elon. However, they only won by eight, and in doing so fell short of the 9.5-point spread.

FRIDAY’S PLAY: OK, time for some MAAC-tion! Much to the consternation of a prickly conference commissioner who has me blocked on social media for no good reason, I used to work in an athletic department in that conference, and I keep up with what goes on pretty well (and no, there’s no inside information happening here).

Anyway, perennial conference contender Iona is 2-7 on the year and has been without head coach Tim Cluess for much of the season. On Friday night, they head to 8-5 Rider, a team that’s lost to the better squads it’s faced (Wisconsin and Temple, to name two) but beaten almost everyone else. The homestanding Broncs are 6.5-point favorites, and I’ll take them to cover that spread.