Sam Houston opens a 32-day Thoroughbred meet Friday night, and by far the most attractive aspect for horse players is the 12% takeout on all multi-race exotics, including Doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s, and Pick 5s. Only one 50-cent minimum Pick 5 is scheduled for Friday’s card (Races 4-8). Here’s how I’ll be playing it. Race 4 #6 DIAMOND BOUND (9-5) takes a much needed drop in class from maiden special weight to $15,000 maiden claiming and has a relative touch of speed for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen. #4 MIDNIGHT LUCY (6-1) is the most intriguing of the first-time starters. By sprint champion Midnight Lute and out of half-sister to Grade 2 winner Megans Bluff, she flashed some zip in some of her Retama works last fall. Race 5 #2 MAS MISCHIEF (8-1) might have found 1 1/2 miles a touch too far a couple starts, especially in a rare role as pacesetter. Turf starter allowance form dating back to May was otherwise solid. #7 GHURAIR (5-2) entered back on short rest off a narrow loss at this level at Fair Grounds. Obviously a solid fit, class-wise. #10 U. S. A. COWBOY (12-1) beat a much stronger field than this at last year’s meet. Five-month layoff the only concern. Race 6 Eight-start maidens generally not my cup of tea, but the remaining pickings are very slim in this $8,000 maiden claimer. #4 ARCH VALUE (2-1) has placed twice and couldn’t have found a much easier spot. He’s the lukewarm single on the ticket. Race 7 #1 SAMICEAN (5-2) beat similar in his only previous try on this turf and has not been embarrassed against tougher of late. #7 YEOWZER (9-2) an honest, hard-trying sort who’s rarely been out of the money since June. Turf form relatively stellar, too. #4 DIVINE HOLIDAY (8-1) fits on form but zero-for-two on grass, though both were in five-furlong dashes. #10 DUJAC (20-1) hasn’t run on turf in forever and was once a pretty capable sort on the surface. New owner-trainer giving him is best chance switching back to turf. Race 8 #1 FIFTEEN LOVES BACK (8-1) has a tough ask returning from an 11-month layoff, but was first or second in all three starts at last year’s meet and has lots more upside than these. #9 BWANA GO (5-1) a consistent check-getter and was simply overmatched against allowance company the last time he was in town. Here’s the ticket: 4,6 with 2,7,10 with 4 with 1,4,7,10 with 1,9 = $24. Scheduled post for the first leg of the Pick 5 at Sam Houston is 9:45 p.m. (EST). Watch and wager at TwinSpires.com. PHOTO: Sam Houston’s 2019 meet is highlighted by 12% multi-race exotics (c) Coady Photography/Sam Houston Race Park