Piassek’s Plays: Two on the Turf at Fair Grounds

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. 19

Fair Grounds, Race 5, post time 2:58 p.m. ET

#3 Courageously: The fifth race on the card is a competitive first-level allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. My top pick is, on paper, taking a step up in class. Courageously struggled at this level in late November, as he dealt with some turbulence early on and then had no kick. He’s competed against conditioned claimers in each of his last two starts, and was impressive in both races. He rated off the leaders each time and kicked away for two impressive victories, earning Brisnet figures of 84 and 87. Even though this is technically a jump in class, most of his opponents do not have positive experience at this condition on grass, and Courageously’s recent numbers fit right in with these. As such, I’m not worried about the change in condition. If anything, it’ll make him a better value. Trainer Chris Hartman has been very sharp lately, with a 35% overall win rate and a remarkable 52% strike rate wih his grass starters. 

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$8 to win on 3

$1 exacta, 3 with 2, 11 ($2 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$16 to win on 3

$3 exacta, 3 with 2, 11 ($6 total)

50-cent trifecta, 3 with 2, 11 with 2, 6, 10, 11 ($3 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$32 to win on 3

$6 exacta, 3 with 2, 11 ($12 total)

$1 trifecta, 3 with 2, 11 with 2, 6, 10, 11 ($6 total)

Fair Grounds, Race 9, $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes, post time 4:55 p.m. ET

#1 Pass the Plate: This race drew a field of ten fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Four of these horses last raced in the January 22 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes. Pass the Plate won that race, closing from behind to get up in the last jump and win by a head. She’s shown an affinity for Fair Grounds in the past; she’s hit the board in four of five starts on this track, and was a fast-closing third in the Albert M. Stall last year. She doesn’t have any early speed, so if she wins, it’ll be in very dramatic style. Nonetheless, she’s proven that she can get the job done against these types before, and she’s in top form now.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$6 to win on 1

$2 exacta, 1 with 3, 6 ($4 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$15 to win on 1

$5 exacta, 1 with 3, 6 ($10 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$24 to win on 1

$8 exacta, 1 with 3, 6 ($16 total)

$5 exacta, 3, 6, with 1 ($10 total)