Piassek’s Plays: Identifying Betting Angles at Oaklawn

Horses in the post parade before a race at Oaklawn on the 2020 Southwest Stakes day card. (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. 27

Oaklawn Park, Race 7, Grade 3 Razorback Handicap, 4:20 p.m. ET

weekend TV schedule

Thursday, Feb. 25: post time varies on TVG

Friday, Feb. 26: post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Feb. 27: 2 p.m.-7 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Feb. 28: 4 p.m.-5 p.m. ET on FS2; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. ET on FS1; post time varies on TVG

#2 Hunka Burning Love (9-2 morning-line odds): There are two types of horses I enjoy playing against: horses who don’t have any early speed and horses coming off long layoffs. Both of the favorites in the Razorback fit that bill. #7 Mystic Guide won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes last September, but hasn’t been seen since Oct. 10, when he was second in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. #4 Owendale also is coming off a layoff, having last raced Nov. 27 in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare. He rarely shows early speed, preferring to make a rally from well out of it. It can be fun to watch, but horses like that usually aren’t great to bet on.

By contrast, Hunka Burning Love has plenty of speed. He won two stakes in a row at Delta Downs and Remington Park to conclude his 2020 season, while showing speed both times. Last out in the Fifth Season Stakes, he set the pace early and held on gamely in a stretch battle before losing by a nose. The horse who beat him, Silver State, had two recent races under his belt, in contrast to Mystic Guide and Owendale. With no one who can seriously challenge him early on, Hunka Burning Love should get a dreamy front-end trip here.


$10 to win on 2


$15 to win on 2

$5 exacta, 2 with 4, 7 ($10 total)


$30 to win on 2

$10 exacta, 2 with 4, 7 ($20 total)

Oaklawn Park, Race 11, 6:32 p.m. ET

#8 Beaver Hat (7-2): While I’m not big on horses making their first start off a layoff, I do like horses in their second race after a layoff who showed some life in their first start back. Beaver Hat fits that profile. Last out, he won a first-level allowance at this track, getting an excellent ride from Florent Geroux. He rated him off a longshot leader on the inside, then angled wide turning for home. The leader was stubborn, but thanks to an aggressive ride Beaver Hat wore him down. His speed figure was a little bit below usual, but it was still a strong race, and he should keep moving forward second off the layoff. Not to mention, he’s the only one in the race who has never lost a second-level allowance like this or a race at a higher condition.


$5 to win, $5 to place on 8


$7 to win on 8

$3 exacta key box, 8 with 6, 9, 10 ($18 total)


$11 to win on 8

$5 exacta key box, 8 with 6, 9, 10 ($30 total)

$1 trifecta, 8 with 6, 9, 10 with 6, 9, 10, 12 ($9 total)

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