Piassek’s Plays: Form Cycles and Jockey-Trainer Combos at Santa Anita

Turf racing at Santa Anita Park. (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.

Santa Anita Park, Race 7, San Simeon Stakes, post time 6:46 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Friday, March 12: post time varies on TVG

Saturday, March 13: 2 p.m.-3 p.m. ET on FS1; 3 p.m.-6 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, March 14: 1:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

#7 Jolie Olimpica: Last year, this mare excelled in sprints on the grass. She won the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Stakes and the Grade 2 Monrovia Stakes, both over this track. On the surface, her last race, a second-place finish in this year’s Las Cienegas Stakes, looks disappointing. However, there’s some reason for optimism off that race. It was her first start in almost six months, so she might not have been at 100%. She was also a lot further off the pace than usual. Usually, she’s on or near the front end. In the Las Cienegas, she was well behind early, sitting about 5 ½ lengths from the leader at the opening quarter. Eventual winner Charmaine’s Mia struck the front just after that point, and drew off from the field. With Jolie Olimpica still far behind, she had little chance to catch up.

This will be Jolie Olimpica’s first start since then, coming off a more moderate nine-week layoff. She’s had some very sharp workouts, and should be in top form for this race. Expect her to rate just off the leaders, then make a big move to the front around the turn.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$4 to win on 7

$1 exacta box, 2, 4, 7 ($6 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$10 to win on 7

$5 exacta, 7 with 2, 3, 4 ($15 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$26 to win on 7

$5 exacta, 7 with 2, 3, 4 ($15 total)

$3 exacta, 2, 3, 4 with 7 ($9 total)

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, post time 7:54 p.m. ET

#5 Bench Judge: This Peter Miller trainee will make his third start off the layoff in this spot. He was a solid third in his 2021 debut two races back, then improved to victory in his last start. He sat just off the leaders, then wore them down in the stretch to win by a head. Flavien Prat rode him that day, and although he jumps off to ride another horse, Bench Judge gets a more-than-capable substitute in Juan Hernandez. When Hernandez rides for Peter Miller, they win at about a 25% rate. He’s coming in here in the best form of anyone in the race, and should once again sit the trip and get up for the win.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$6 to win on 5

$2 exacta, 5 with 6, 9 ($4 total) 

Strategy on a $25 Budget 

$15 to win on 5

$5 exacta, 5 with 6, 9 ($10 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget 

$30 to win on 5

$7 exacta, 5 with 6, 9 ($14 total)

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

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