Piassek’s Plays: Eye on Preakness Undercard

Horses race on the turf course at Pimlico on the 2020 Preakness Stakes undercard. (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, May 15

Pimlico, Race 2, Post Time 11:05 a.m. ET

weekend TV schedule

Friday, May 14: 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m. ET on FS1; 5 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, May 15:
2 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m-6:30 p.m. on FS2; 2 p.m.-5 p.m. ET on NBCSN; 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET on NBC; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, May 16:
12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

#5 Tapwood: Grass racing season has just started again in Maryland. That means we’ve got a lot of horses in grass races who haven’t raced on that surface in a while, or, in some cases, haven’t raced at all in a bit. Six of the 12 horses in the race have not raced in at least 140 days.

Only one horse has won on grass this year, and that’s Tapwood. He won a maiden special weight race on New Year’s Day at Tampa Bay Downs, chasing down a loose leader to win by a nose. The horse he beat, Bugle of War, came back to win his next start at Tampa Bay. This one’s taking a drop in class after an eighth-place finish in the Columbia Stakes on March 6, and has been working well in preparation for his return to the races. One of Maryland’s top jockeys, Sheldon Russell, has the mount. Look for him to rate just off the pace and make a strong move to the lead on the final turn.


$5 to win on 5

$5 exacta: 5 with 10 ($5 total)


$9 to win on 5

$8 exacta box: 5 with 10 ($16 total)


$14 to win on 5

$18 exacta box: 5 with 10 ($36 total)

Pimlico, Race 9, Runhappy Skipat Stakes, Post Time 3:25 p.m. ET

#8 French Empire: A field of eight fillies and mares has signed on for the Runhappy Skipat Stakes at six furlongs on the dirt. French Empire tries the East Coast after a dominant run in the midwest. This winter and spring, she rattled off four wins in a row between Turfway Park and Oaklawn Park. In all of her wins, she raced just off the pace then rocketed by the embattled pacesetters in the stretch for an easy win.

This race sets up perfectly for her. A bunch of horses, including favored Chub Wagon, have lots of early speed. If they all burn each other out, French Empire will be right there on the outside to pick up the pieces and cruise to victory.


$5 to win on 8

$5 exacta: 8 with 2


$9 to win on 8

$4 exacta key box: 8 with 1,2 ($16 total)


$10 to win on 8

$4 exacta key box: 8 with 1,2 ($16 total)

$4 trifecta: 8 with 1,2 with 1,2,5,6 ($24 total)

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