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: 1/12/20

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: 1/9/20

RECORD: 7-1

My conversation with Gino Buccola went online Wednesday afternoon. In it, we went point-by-point through my 50-item plan to improve horse racing, and we wound up talking for nearly an hour and a half. It’s available at the 41-minute mark of the full “That’s What G Said” podcast, which I’ve conveniently skipped to in the YouTube upload below.

If you prefer to access it on SoundCloud, it’s available there, too. When we wrapped, I remarked that it may be the best thing I’ve ever done, and I meant it. If you like horse racing and the podcasts that cover it, give it a listen. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

WEDNESDAY’S RESULT: UConn was up seven at the half against Tulane and stretched the lead to double-digits after the break. However, the Green Wave showed some fight and made the Huskies sweat before falling 67-61. That was well within the 11-point spread, so it’s another win.

THURSDAY’S PLAY: The College of Charleston Cougars played a brutal non-conference schedule. However, they’ve won five straight ahead of a road game at fellow Colonial Athletic Association squad Elon Thursday night. The Phoenix are 4-12, have lost five straight, and are only getting 9.5 points. That doesn’t hit me as anywhere near enough. I’m taking Charleston to cover, as I don’t think this one will be close.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/7/20

RECORD: 5-1

Like Doc Holliday in “Tombstone,” I don’t have a lot of very close friends, so I’ll fight for the ones I’ve got. Gino Buccola’s one of them. I came into TVG right as he was exiting stage left, and we quickly realized we had a lot in common. We’ve bonded over the years, and he had me in for a podcast to discuss my recent article detailing a 50-point plan to save horse racing.

We talked for 90 minutes. It felt like 10, and it may be the best piece of racing-related content I’ve ever had a hand in producing. At around the 60 or 70-minute mark, the wrestling fan that I am, I thought to myself, “is this what Ric Flair felt like?”

Gino says the finished product will be online late-Tuesday or Wednesday. I’ll have it on all of my social media channels, and if any one of podcasts, horse racing, or my irreverent brand of humor strike a chord with you, you’re going to want to check it out. I’m grateful to my friend for allowing me the chance to talk about my work and my passion, and hopefully that shines through in the discussion.

MONDAY’S RESULT: The college basketball game between West Virginia and Oklahoma State didn’t win any beauty contests. While West Virginia shot a paltry 38.8% from the floor and 55% from the foul line, Oklahoma State was even worse in scoring 41 points on 48 shots, and the Mountaineers easily covered the one-point spread in a 14-point victory.

TUESDAY’S PLAY: It’s a great night for college basketball, but I’ll focus on a game being played in upstate New York (shocker, right?). Syracuse hosts Virginia Tech and is a 4.5-point favorite as of this writing…but why? The Orange are 8-6 with one win over a power-conference team (a drubbing of Georgia Tech). Meanwhile, Virginia Tech is 10-4 with no bad losses and wins over Clemson (on the road) and Michigan State (on a neutral floor). I’m taking the Hokies getting four and a half, and I wouldn’t be stunned if they won outright.

Andrew’s Play of the Day: 1/6/20

RECORD: 4-1

A little less than a year ago, I took up the game Off And Pacing, which can be played on Apple and Android devices. I got into it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that I’m insanely competitive and enjoy bludgeoning several friends who also play the game into submission.

Essentially, you manage a harness racing operation, which includes racing, breeding, and claiming standardbreds. It’s quite fun once you know what you’re doing, and I’ve been blessed with easily the best 2-year-old I’ve ever had. Named King Elliot (after my feline partner-in-crime), he qualified for my stable’s first-ever final Sunday night…where he promptly received the worst drive of his career.

I am sure driver Mike Wilson is a very nice man in real-life. However, after taking a speed horse back to seventh or eighth and leaving him with way too much to do, I hate his Off And Pacing likeness more than my Twitter trolls hate me when I pick a 5-1 shot that goes wire-to-wire. If you heard someone rampaging around in Northern California around 6 pm Sunday night, it was me, and I kind of, sort of, apologize.

SUNDAY’S RESULT: Vegas likely got killed. Philadelphia was favored by three over Seattle when betting for the NFL wild card playoff game opened last week. When the game kicked off, the Seahawks were favored in some books because they took so much money. I was among the bettors who backed Seattle, and as a result, another one goes in the left column.

MONDAY’S PLAY: I’ll turn to college basketball and focus on some Big 12 action. West Virginia heads to Oklahoma State, and the Cowboys are reeling. They’ve lost four of their last six games after a 7-0 start to the season, and they now get a two-loss West Virginia team that gave Kansas all it could handle at Allen Fieldhouse. The Mountaineers are favored by a point, and I’ll take them to cover.