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USATSI

I do not care about horse racing. At most, I watch seven minutes of it per year. For one Saturday in May, I ignore all of the build-up to the Kentucky Derby and eventually Google "what time does the Kentucky Derby start?" I'm then told it starts at 6:37 p.m. ET, or whenever, and that's when I turn the channel to the Kentucky Derby.

I don't bet on it. I know this might come as a surprise to you, seeing as how you're in the process of reading a newsletter in which I give gambling advice, but I don't bet on horses. Because, again, I do not care about horse racing. But I watch the Kentucky Derby, and I'm almost without fail unimpressed by all of it. Yet, a few weeks later, when the Preakness Stakes is running, I go through the same routine. Then -- and only then -- if the same horse that won the Kentucky Derby wins the Preakness, I will watch the Belmont Stakes. If some other horse wins, I'm not watching the Belmont Stakes.

And I'm not even sure I know why I do that! Remember in 2015 when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown for the first time since 1978? I barely do. I just remember tuning in because some part of my brain was convinced it was necessary, but my immediate reaction after seeing the horse win was to say "neat" to myself before changing the channel and going back to whatever it was that I had been watching that I was actually interested in watching.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, because as Gabe went over this morning, Medina Spirit failed a drug test, and the horse's trainer Bob Baffert went on TV on Monday to say the horse was the latest victim of "cancel culture." Which, quite honestly, is one of the dumbest things anybody has ever said on any news network, and people say a lot of idiotic things on news networks. But you know what? It got me thinking of horse racing, so maybe Bob Baffert's a genius?

Whatever the case, it's not going to stop me from getting these jokes off, and I'll be watching the Preakness Stakes whenever they happen (I haven't googled it yet) to watch for some reason I don't understand. But first I'm going to read these stories.

Don't worry, despite Bob Baffert's greatest fears, cancel culture hasn't gotten to the picks portion of this newsletter.

Yet.

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

Rangers at Giants, 9:45 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Rangers (+135)
: It's a limited baseball slate tonight, but there is some value to be found on the latest game. The Giants have been one of the bigger surprises of the early season and one I'm mad at myself about. Before the season began, I shared my favorite plays on teams to make the playoffs as part of our build to the MLB season. I did not include the Giants, even though my numbers showed a good deal of value on them.

The reasoning was simple. While there was value on it, it was still an extreme longshot, so it didn't make much sense to bet on a 1% outcome. And now that we didn't, it seems we might be on that 1% path! The Giants enter play today in first place in the NL West, and while there's a long way to go, this team is much stronger than anticipated.

But I don't think it's strong enough to justify the price on tonight's matchup against the Rangers. Texas has been better than expected too and comes into tonight having won seven of 10. Rangers starter Kyle Gibson doesn't strike many hitters out, but he limits hard contact, which means he should play well in Oracle Park. There's value on the Rangers, particularly against a lefty starter in Alex Wood. Texas' hard-hit rate of 32.3% against lefties this season ranks seventh in baseball.

Key Trend: The Rangers are 11-1 in their last 12 games against a lefty starter.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has a strong lean on the spread in this game too, but does it agree with me? And if it doesn't, will it be awkward the next time we see one another in public?


💰 The Picks

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🏀 NBA

Rockets at Blazers, 10 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Blazers -14 (-110) -- 
Listen, there isn't a cell in my body that enjoys taking a double-digit favorite in an NBA game, but I'm making a special exception for tonight. We just need to look at the circumstances involved in this game. Portland is game ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference, just above the cut-off for the play-in tournament. It cannot afford to be blowing a gimme like this one. Then there are the Rockets, who have the worst record in the NBA, and would prefer to keep things that way.

In other words, you have a team that needs a win going against a team that doesn't want to win. Lay the points and hope the reserves don't blow it late.

Key Trend: Portland is 5-1 ATS in its last six as a favorite.

🏒 NHL

Stars at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. | TV: NBCSN
The Pick: Blackhawks (+120) -- 
We don't bet a lot of hockey in this newsletter, but this is one spot where I see value on the underdog. This game will be Dallas' seventh straight game on the road, and it's the Stars' fifth game in eight days. They lost to the Blackhawks 4-2 last night, and they've done a lot of that lately, as they're only 1-5 in the first six games of this road trip and have lost seven of 10. The Blackhawks aren't a great team, but they've won two straight and five of seven against Dallas this season.

Key Trend: The Blackhawks are 5-2 against the Stars this year.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: It's never too early to bet the Super Bowl! SportsLine's Advanced Projection Model, which is up almost $7,900, has identified six teams that provide value at their current Super Bowl LVI futures odds.


💸 The DFS Rundown

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Building Blocks

PG: Russell Westbrook, Wizards
SG: Colli Sexton, Cavs
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic, Jazz
PF: Domantas Sabonis, Pacers
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Grizzlies

Value Plays

PG: Raul Neto, Wizards
SG: Lonnie Walker, Spurs
SF: Keldon Johnson, Spurs
PF: Jaren Jackson, Grizzlies
C: Jakob Poeltl, Spurs

Full lineup advice

Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.


 🏀 NBA Player Props

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