Piassek's Plays: Looking for Improving Horses at Del Mar

Horses race through the stretch on the turf course at Del Mar. (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, July 24

weekend TV schedule

Friday, July 23: 1 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, July 24: 1 p.m.-7 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, July 25:
1 p.m.-2 p.m. and 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on FS2; 2 p.m.-3 p.m. on FS1; post time varies on TVG

Del Mar, Race 4,  6:34 p.m. ET

#3 Hollywoodhellraisr: This Phil d'Amato trainee will make his third start of the year, and sixth start overall, in this two-turn maiden race on the grass. He made his season debut on May 15 in his first race off a six-month layoff and was a non-threatening sixth after a wide trip. However, he improved quite a bit in his next start four weeks later. He got a good stalking trip and chased down the loose early leader, only to get caught late by the surging favorite. He still held on for second while earning one of his career-best speed figures. This will be his third start off the bench, so I'm looking for him to keep moving forward and, this time, to be able to parlay a stalking trip into a victory.


$5 to win on 3

$5 exacta: 3 with 10


$15 to win on 3

$5 exacta: 3 with 7,10


$18 to win on 3

$10 exacta: 3 with 7,10 ($20 total)

$2 trifecta: 3 with 7,10 with 2,5,7,10 ($12 total)

Del Mar, Race 9, 9:06 p.m. ET

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#3 Joe Don Looney: This California-bred 3-year-old also looks like he's rounding into career-best form at the right time. He beat winners three races back, taking a claiming race for 3-year-olds by a nose after a game, front-end trip. In his first start against California-bred allowance horses, he was compromised at the break and didn't have much of a chance after that. Last out, he made a strong six-wide bid and just missed, losing by half a length. Abel Cedillo, who rode him in his last start, keeps the mount. He should be right on or near the pace and will be a great bet if he stays near his 6-1 morning line.


$4 to win on 3

$2 exacta: 3 with 5,6


$11 to win on 3

$5 exacta: 3 with 5,6 ($10 total)

$2 exacta: 5,6 with 3 ($4 total)


$20 to win on 3

$10 exacta,:3 with 5,6 ($20 total)

$5 exacta: 5,6 with 3 ($10 total)

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