Piassek's Plays: Searching for Value North of the Border

Fans at Woodbine. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

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, Sept. 18

Woodbine, Race 5, post time 3:23 p.m. ET

weekend TV schedule

Friday, Sept. 17: 12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Sept. 18: 1 p.m.-7:30 p.m. on FS2; 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Sept. 19: 1 p.m.-2 p.m. on FS2; 2 p.m.-6 p.m. on FS1; 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m. on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

#13 Pledge: This first-level allowance race on the grass features a full field of 14. This is a very wide-open race on paper; and as such, everyone in the race is likely go off at decent odds. It's the kind of race where it's worth trying to find a price. There's not much point in betting the favorite when all of the contenders have similar chances of winning.

Pledge is 10-1 on the morning line, but there's plenty to like about her. She broke her maiden impressively at Turfway Park in January, crushing a maiden special weight field on the synthetic track by 6 1/2 lengths. After that race, she went to the barn of Mark Casse, and disappointed in the Cincinnati Trophy Stakes before going to the sidelines. She finished a solid third in her first start off the layoff, then went off as the favorite at this level in her grass debut. Despite a wide trip, she ran on well and finished second. In that race, she outfinished Magical Soul, who came back to win at this level. She now makes her third start off the layoff, and looks primed to run a big race. The post isn't ideal, but the price should be right.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$4 to win on 13

$1 exacta box: 6, 9, 13 ($6 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$7 to win on 13

$2 exacta box: 6, 9, 13 ($12 total)

$1 trifecta: 6 with 2, 9, 13 with 2, 9, 13 ($6 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$8 to win on 13

$2 exacta box: 2, 6, 9, 13 ($24 total)

$1 trifecta: 6, 13 with 2, 6, 9, 13 with 2, 6, 9, 13 ($18 total)

Woodbine Race 12, post time 7:17 p.m. ET

#9 High Heat: Another full field of allowance optional claiming horses will wrap up the card. High Heat is very lightly raced, with this being just his third career start. In his debut, he flew from nowhere to lose by a nose. Next out, he sat a bit closer to the pace and wore down the leaders to win by half a length in a game effort. This will be his first start against winners. He has competitive speed figures, good closing speed, and lots of room for improvement. It's also worth noting that Justin Stein has been riding this horse and another one of the favorites, #13 Kid Forester, pretty steadily. He's named on this one, which can be interpreted as a positive sign.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$6 to win on 9

$1 exacta key box: 9 with 10, 11 ($4 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$17 to win on 9

$2 exacta key box: 9 with 10, 11 ($8 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$30 to win on 9

$5 exacta key box: 9 with 10, 11 ($20 total)

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