In keeping with last week’s published 2020 resolutions, one of our primary wagering focuses from now through the end of March will be the multi-race wagers at Sam Houston, which opens its 39-day Thoroughbred meet Friday evening, Jan. 10.

Horseplayers pining for low-takeout betting options should be gung-ho about the action in Texas through Mar. 28, as Sam Houston will be offering a 12% takeout on Doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s, and Pick 5s, plus on a couple jackpot wagers. The minimum wager on Doubles and Pick 3s is $1, and 50 cents for Pick 4s and 5s.

While it seemed at times that field size could have been better during the 2019 meet, the quality of racing at Sam Houston this year should benefit from legislation passed last fall that will pump more than $12 million into Thoroughbred purses throughout the state this year. Sam Houston has publicized that all overnight purses (i.e. maidens, allowances, and claimers) for the 2020 meet have increased 75%-80%. A reflection of this positive boost is that an average of 10.8 runners per race were entered for the first two cards on Friday and Saturday evening.

The bit of unwelcome news is that wet weather has lingered over Houston in recent days, which could put a damper on the scheduled grass racing Friday. We’ll plough through nonetheless with a look at the opening day Pick 5, which covers the last five races on the card. First post is 7:45 p.m. (EST), with the scheduled post time for the first leg of the Pick 5, Race 6, being 10:04 p.m.

Race 6

#6 CATKINS (5-2) has consistently faced better than these. Though unplaced in all four tries on the turf, they were at much higher levels. Dirt form virtually stands out if it comes to that. #7 AWESOME SUNSET (8-1) has fired decent ones on both surfaces under Diego in the past, and best puts her in contention here.

Race 7

#6 DARK ARDEN (4-1) won twice by a combined margin of 12 lengths in his last two tries for Asmussen, who claimed him back for $7,500 on Nov. 24. The ageless #12 DROWNINGNDIAMONDS (7-2) still looks like a potentially strong factor despite turning 10 last week, while #2 HOORAY AUSTIN (6-1) has turned in some above-average works over this track of late and should appreciate the drop in class.

Race 8

Will go three-deep in this N2L allowance for filly and mare Texas-breds. The early foot possessed by #2 SPARKLING AIR (5-2) and #7 SPECIAL ENDING (10-1) will have them both in contention early, if not at the end. On the other side of the spectrum is #9 SILVER CITY TRICK (2-1), who looms the one to beat dropping from open company to a level at which she placed twice previously.

Race 9

The top two choices on the morning line look dangerous from a back-class perspective. #1 EVIL WAYS (5-2) debuts off the claim for owner-trainer Karl Broberg, who sent out 547 winners throughout the country last year. Latest at Churchill was her best run of the recently-ended season. #2 LIGHT UP THE DEVIL (9-5) was competitive over this track last season in open N1X allowances. The main knock is that she’s developed a tendency for minor awards.

Race 10

#4 DOC’S CLASS ACT (7-2) was overmatched twice against open maidens at Remington last fall, but looks relatively quick enough compared to the more-exposed types here, and some improvement possible dropping into Texas-bred company. #11 SILVER AND ACES (6-1) was slow-starting and non-competitive in his only previous try a year and a half ago in a futurity at Lone Star, a race previously won and placed-in by a pair of half-brothers. Probably capable of better.

Here’s the 50-cent ticket

6,7 with 2,6,12 with 2,7,9 with 1,2 with 4,11 = $36.

Good luck!