Piassek’s Plays: Betting on Improving Horses at Aqueduct

In his regular gambling blog, John Piassek presents his top picks for the upcoming weekend in horse racing, offering betting options at different budget levels. Piassek’s Plays is brought to you by Horseplayers.com, the official online qualifying site of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) and National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). Horseplayers.com offers low-cost feeders every day and BCBC and NHC qualifiers every weekend, and it’s the only site where you can qualify for the $1 million BCBC. It’s free to sign up – click here to get information about registering and how to enter contests.

Piassek has contributed to the horse racing sites The Racing Biz and Danonymous Racing and worked at Tioga Downs, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga Race Course. He joined America’s Best Racing in January 2021.

Saturday, Feb. 26

Aqueduct, Race 6, post time 3:23 p.m. ET

#3 Rocco Strong: This is a starter-allowance race at one mile. Rocco Strong is getting his last test here, coming off a win in a non-winners of two lifetime claiming race on Feb. 6. He stalked the pace while racing wide that day and drew off to an impressive 2 1/2-length win, running career-top speed figures on both the Brisnet and Equibase scales. Many of his rivals have lost multiple times at the starter allowance level, and have run no faster than Rocco Strong has lately. He’s entering this race in career-best form and has good cruising speed, which will enable him to get the same type of trip he did last time. If he keeps improving off that last race, he’ll be a major contender.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$6 to win on 3

$2 exacta: 3 with 1, 2 ($4 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$11 to win on 3

$5 exacta: 3 with 1, 2 ($10 total)

$2 exacta: 1, 2 with 3 ($4 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$20 to win on 3

$10 exacta: 3 with 1, 2 ($20 total)

$5 exacta: 1, 2 with 3 ($10 total)

Aqueduct, Race 7, post time 3:57 p.m. ET

#1A Sound Money: Both halves of the Klaravich Stables/Chad Brown entry are worth a look in this second-level allowance optional claiming race. Risk Taking has the more prestigious class lines, having won the Grade 3 Withers Stakes last February here at Aqueduct. However, he’s been unplaced in three starts since then and has not raced since August. By contrast, his entrymate, Sound Money, is in top form right now. He easily won a first-level allowance race last out, drawing off in the stretch to win by 5 1/4 lengths despite a wide trip. He ran a career-best Brisnet figure of 104 and a lifetime-top Equibase mark of 117. His recent workouts have been very sharp and he looks ready to run another big race. If he wins this one, graded stakes races are likely in his future.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$8 to win on 1A

$2 exacta: 1A with 8

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$15 to win on 1A

$5 exacta: 1A with 2, 8 ($10 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$30 to win on 1A

$10 exacta: 1A with 2, 8 ($20 total)