WEEKLY DIGEST: Woodbine and NFL Week 2

We’re back for a second go-around, and this week’s horse racing action takes me to Woodbine. A track I was fortunate enough to go to back in June, Saturday’s card features three Grade 1 races and a bunch of full fields elsewhere on the program. As a reminder, Woodbine’s wagering menu includes multi-race wagers at 20-cent minimums, rather than 50, which allows folks to go a bit deeper.

Meanwhile, Week 2 of the NFL is already underway. From an optics standpoint, there aren’t a lot of eye-catching matchups on Sunday’s slate. However, a few spreads hit me as extremely bettable.

Let’s dive in!

HORSE RACING: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH

Woodbine, Race 6: A field of 12 2-year-olds will go two turns. #10 STATE OF MIND is the 3-1 morning line favorite, and I don’t think she’s totally illogical. However, the far outside post is a problem, and 3-1 just hits me as too short a price.

I much prefer fellow second-time starter #5 BIJOU BABY. She debuted going six furlongs, and given that she’s a daughter of turf stayer Point of Entry, chances are that isn’t what she wants to do. Still, she made up a lot of ground while closing into a pretty slow pace. I’m expecting significant improvement given the experience and the added distance.

If you want to go even deeper, #3 OUR LIBERTY BELLE isn’t without a shot at a big price. She hasn’t run well in two turf starts, but her works over the synthetic course are pretty sharp and she adds blinkers in her first two-turn outing. Bijou Baby is my top pick, but I’ll have this one on a few tickets, too.

Woodbine, Race 9: This is the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, and the headliner here is #5 MODERN GAMES. The last time he shipped overseas was for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Things went great for him, as he won, but not for those who bet on him, as he was declared a non-starter following a head-scratching series of events.

A repeat of his runner-up finish in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes would give Modern Games a big chance, but the likely price seems too short. I prefer two others.

My top pick is #2 IVAR. He’s clearly had his issues, judging by the layoff lines, but when he’s right, he’s a handful. He’s finished up close in back-to-back editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and he should get plenty of pace to run at in this spot.

I’ll also pose a question: Is Modern Games that much better than fellow European runner #4 FINEST SOUND? Their Timeform ratings are pretty similar, and the latter runner will be at least five times the price. Jockey Andrea Atzeni has had success over this turf course in the past, and I think this one’s live.

Woodbine, Race 10: Simply put, I want no part of any runner coming out of the Catch A Glimpse. I’m simply not impressed by the race and very much prefer a new face in the Grade 1 Natalma.

#3 G LAURIE was very impressive in winning her debut by six lengths. Graham Motion’s runners aren’t always fully cranked at first asking, but she drew away powerfully, and that day’s third-place finisher has since come back to win.

I know the speed figures weren’t particularly kind to that race, but I’m banking on there being far more in the tank. Add in that I’m just not crazy about this field in general, and I think G Laurie represents a very attractive betting proposition.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: WEEK 2

WEEK 1 RECORD: 1-2

Bucs -2.5 over Saints: This spread has come down over the past few days as a result of some injury-related uncertainty on the Tampa Bay offense. However, while I’ll admit the injury report is unsettling, I think this is a “buy low” opportunity.

Tampa Bay’s defense swarmed the Cowboys last Sunday night. Even before Dak Prescott left the game, Dallas couldn’t get anything going the entire game. Tom Brady may not have all of his weapons on Sunday, but I don’t think he needs them. I’ll take the Bucs in a slow-paced game where their defense gets a chance to shine.

Panthers/Giants OVER 43.5: I’m not exactly bullish about offenses led by Baker Mayfield and Daniel Jones, but both of these teams face significantly weaker defenses than the ones they lined up against in Week 1. Saquon Barkley looked healthy in Big Blue’s stunning win over Tennessee, and Mayfield was at least able to engineer a few good drives against a solid Cleveland defense.

43.5 just seems a bit low to me. It’s possible this becomes a game of attrition and I look pretty silly, but I’ll gamble that each offense appreciates a bit of class relief, to steal a horse racing term. 27-17 is a winner, and that seems likely enough for me to take a shot.

Bears +10 over Packers: I watched all of the Bears’ season opener last weekend. It was ugly. Soldier Field’s turf was a mess, and for the first half, Chicago’s offense was, too. However, they did at least rally to win, and the Bears then sat back and watched the Vikings decimate Gang Green.

Mind you, I’m not saying Chicago is a likely winner. I think Green Bay is significantly sharper in the second week of the season. However, there are question marks here, especially with the Packers’ wide receiver corps. I think it’s likely Green Bay wins, but double-digits just seems like too big a spread.

Vikings +2.5 over Eagles: The second of two games on Monday comes to us from Philadelphia. The Eagles won their lid-lifter, but they survived some anxious moments against a Detroit Lions team that still has some work to do.

I’m not sold on any NFC East team. The Eagles may be the best of the bunch, but I’m eager to take the points with a Vikings team that seems to boast a higher-powered offense, even in a road game. The money line (Minnesota is between +115 and +125 as of this writing) may be worth a small shot, too.