Piassek’s Plays: Saturday Selections at Oaklawn Park

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. 12

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, post time 5:20 p.m. ET

#5 Connie K: This is a first-level allowance race for fillies and mares at six furlongs. Connie K enters this race in career-best form. She handily defeated a starter allowance field two starts back at Churchill Downs, then cruised against fellow Arkansas-breds last out. In that race, she was pressed on the lead, but shook off all challenges and drew off easily. She earned a Brisnet speed figure of 90, a lifetime-top, and an Equibase figure of 89, which equaled her career-best on that scale. Some horses in this race have lots of back-class, including Joyful Cadence, who was third in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes last year, and Pharoah’s Heart, who hasn’t raced since a fourth-place effort in the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes in April. However, Connie K is in good form right now, as opposed to those two, who haven’t raced much recently and may need some time to get into their peak condition. That makes Connie K the more interesting play.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$5 to win on 5

$5 exacta: 5 with 11

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$11 to win on 5

$7 exacta: 5 with 4, 11 ($14 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$20 to win on 5

$12 exacta: 5 with 4, 11 ($24 total)

$1 trifecta: 5 with 4, 11 with 2, 4, 8, 11 ($6 total)

Oaklawn Park, Race 10, Grade 3 Razorback Handicap, post time 5:56 p.m. ET

#3 Lone Rock: The co-feature on the Saturday card is the $600,000 Razorback Handicap, named after the mascot of the University of Arkansas. This race tends to attract horses not quite good enough for the upcoming big races in the Middle East, although a $360,000 first prize is nothing to sneeze at.

In fact, this year’s Razorback features a horse who had a great season last year, and could have an even bigger one this year. Lone Rock won seven races last year, including five stakes races. His most impressive performance came in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Stakes Presented by Northwell Health, which he won by 11 lengths. Most of his wins came at “marathon” distances of 1 1/2 miles or longer, but he showed aptitude at shorter distances when he won the Tinsel Stakes here last out to conclude his 2021 season. He has good tactical speed and a powerful late kick that will make him tough, even if the 1 1/16-mile distance is a bit shorter than he might like.

He’s the slight morning-line favorite at 3-1 odds, but he’s likely to go off at a higher price than he should. That’s because Promise Keeper, who won the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes last out, is very likely to attract a lot of play, even though he hasn’t raced since June. That makes him very vulnerable in my book. When you factor that dead money into the equation, Lone Rock looks like an even better play. 

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$6 to win on 3

$4 exacta: 3 with 8

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$13 to win on 3

$6 exacta: 3 with 4, 8 ($12 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$22 to win on 3

$8 exacta: 3 with 4, 8 ($16 total)

$2 trifecta: 3 with 4, 8 with 4, 6, 7, 8 ($12 total)