Piassek’s Plays: Eye on Louisiana Derby Undercard

Action at Fair Grounds on Louisiana Derby day in 2019. (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, March 20

Fair Grounds, Race 11, New Orleans Classic Stakes, 5:12 p.m. ET

weekend TV schedule

Friday, March 19: post time varies on TVG

Saturday, March 20:
6 p.m.-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, March 21:
2 p.m.-2:30 p.m. ET on FS2; 2:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS1;post time varies on TVG

#2 Owendale: This race doesn’t have any early speed in it at all. Just about everyone in the field likes to linger toward the back of the pack early on, then make their move in the stretch. Of course, all eight horses can’t come from behind here. Someone’s going to have to be on the lead, even if they inherit the front by default.

Owendale is generally a closer, but he has an advantage compared with the others. He has, at least, shown some wisps of early speed in his previous races. His race four starts back in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes last fall offers some clues as to what might transpire here. That race also didn’t have a lot of speed on paper. Recognizing the situation, John Velazquez sent him to the early lead and set a mild tempo while racing on the outside. He could not get by Harpers First Ride, who was hustled faster and cleared to the rail and the lead from the outside post. Nonetheless, Owendale hung in there for a game second-place finish. In the race prior to that in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet, he again rated near a slow pace and battled in the stretch, finishing second to By My Standards.

Those glimpses of speed give Owendale the edge in this field. If needed, he can show speed, and he’s going to need to show it here. He has a favorable post-position draw and one of Fair Grounds’ top jockeys in Florent Geroux in the saddle. Geroux was perhaps a bit too passive in the Alysheba but that experience might have made him more attuned to the situation here. If Owendale can get to the front, he can slow things down and make it harder for everyone else to catch up.


$4 to win on 2

$3 exacta box: 2,3 ($6 total)


$11 to win on 2

$5 exacta: 2 with 3,8 ($10 total)

$2 exacta: 3,8 with 2 ($4 total)


$30 to win on 2

$5 exacta key box: 2 with 3, 8 ($20 total)

Fair Grounds, Race 13, Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks, 6:14 p.m. E.T.

#6 Clairiere: Her first start off a layoff in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes Presented by Fasig-Tipton last out was a solid one. She rallied from off a slow pace to charge her way down the long Fair Grounds stretch and chase down even-money favorite Travel Column for the win. That race was a copy of her first two career starts from last year. In those races, both of which came at Churchill Downs, she came from well behind to run big. She faces a similar cast here to the one from the Rachel Alexandra and has the extra race under her belt this year. As such, she should improve from her win in the Rachel Alexandra. Look for her to once again pack a serious punch in the stretch.


$5 to win on 6

$5 exacta: 6 with 5


$10 to win on 6

$3 exacta: 6 with 5,8 ($6 total)

$1 trifecta: 6 with 4,5,8 with 1,4,5,8 ($9 total)


$21 to win on 6

$5 exacta key box: 6 with 5,8 ($20 total)

$1 trifecta: 6 with 4,5,8 with 1,4,5,8 ($9 total)

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