Piassek’s Plays: Along for the Ride at Laurel

Horses race along the backstretch at Laurel Park in this 2016 file photo. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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. 20

Laurel Park, Race 6, Wide Country Stakes, 3:12 p.m. E.T.

weekend Television schedule

Friday, Feb. 19: post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Feb.20: 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. ET on FS2; 12 p.m.-1 p.m. ET on FS1; 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Feb.21: 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

#2 Salt Plage: This Linda Rice-trained filly is a perfect 2-for-2 in her career so far. Her last race, a win against first-level allowance horses at Parx Racing on Jan. 25, was very impressive. After rating off the pace on the inside, she swung wide entering the stretch and drew off. Jockey Angel Castillo was merely a passenger; he barely had to encourage her and placed her under a hammerlock in the last sixteenth of a mile. The official winning margin was six lengths, but if Castillo had stayed busy, she very likely would’ve won by more.

Salt Plage is facing tough competition here, but her speed figures are right on par with those of the major contenders. What’s more, the two likely favorites, #5 Street Lute and #7 Little Huntress, both have early speed. If neither of them gets a good trip, Salt Plage will be stalking them on the inside. With another powerful move, she can leave them all reeling in her wake in the stretch.


$5 to win, $5 to place on 2 ($10 total)


$11 to win on 2

$7 exacta, 2 with 3,4 ($14 total)


$20 to win on 2 ($20 total)

$10 exacta, 2 with 3, 4 ($20 total)

$5 exacta, 3, 4 with 2 ($10 total)

Laurel Park, Race 8, $250,000 General George Stakes, 4:19 p.m. E.T.

#6 Share the Ride: Horseplayers, not without reason, are often drawn toward dramatic instances of trouble. This can include a lack of running room, a wide trip, or sudden interference.

However, getting stuck behind a slow pace can be just as devastating to a horse’s chances. That’s what befell Share the Ride in his last race, the Grade 3 Toboggan Stakes at Aqueduct. He got his usual trip stalking the leaders on the outside, but the leaders set an excruciatingly slow pace. The opening quarter-mile was run in a dawdling 24.08 seconds, the half-mile in 48.11 seconds. With those kinds of fractions in front of him, Share the Ride had no chance to catch the leaders. The front-runners stayed in front the entire way, while Share the Ride finished a clear-cut third.

When he’s stalked a normal pace, Share the Ride has run quite well. He won the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct in November in a gutsy effort, and blew away a tough open allowance field at Parx in the race before that. In his most recent start at this track, in the Fire Plug Stakes, he battled in the stretch, and lost by a neck with a big speed figure. There’s plenty of cheap speed in here, and because of that he should get an honest pace.


$6 to win on 6 ($6 total)

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


$10 to win on 6 ($10 total)

$5 exacta, 6 with 1, 2 ($10 total)

50-cent trifecta, 6 with 1, 2 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10 ($5 total)


$20 to win on 6 ($20 total)

$5 exacta key box, 6 with 1, 2 ($20 total)

$1 trifecta, 6 with 1, 2 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10 ($10 total)

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