Piassek's Plays: Second-Time Starter, Beating Vulnerable Favorite at Keeneland

Horses race in the stretch on the turf course at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. (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, Oct. 16

Keeneland, Race 3, 2:04 p.m. ET

#10 Grand Sonata: A field of 12 2-year-old maidens will do battle in this 1 1/16-mile grass race. Grand Sonata made his debut at Belmont Park on Sept. 18, and went off as the co-third choice at 8.40-1. He made a big, wide move off moderate fractions to finish second, earning a very respectable Equibase Speed Figure of 75. The horse who won that race, Slipstream, came back to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes in his next start. Grand Sonata is stretching out from seven furlongs here and is making his two-turn debut in this spot. However, based on the move he made in that race, I imagine he'll handle two turns just fine. Tyler Gaffalione, who has been having a fantastic Keeneland meet through the first few days, gets the mount.


$5 to win on 10

$5 exacta: 10 with 12


$9 to win on 10

$9 exacta: 10 with 12

$1 trifecta: 10 with 12 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 ($7 total)


$15 to win on 10

$15 exacta: 10 with 12

$6 exacta: 12 with 10

$1 trifecta: 10, 12 with 10, 12 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 ($14 total)

Keeneland, Race 5, 3:08 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Thursday, Oct. 14: 12:30 p.m.-5 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, Oct. 15:
12:30 p.m.-5 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Oct. 16:
8 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Oct. 17:
12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

#2 Palace Coup: This is an interesting open $50,000 claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The morning-line favorite is #6 Fighting Seabee, who has done his best running on the grass. In a race filled with horses with positive dirt experience, I'm inclined to look elsewhere.

I'll take a shot with a bit of a price horse. Palace Coup was claimed out of his last start at Del Mar by Robertino Diodoro, who is an impressive 24% first off the claim. Diodoro's go-to jockey, David Cohen, gets the mount. Earlier in the year, he consistently showed lots of early speed, including an strong gate-to-wire performance in January. In his last few starts, he couldn't get to the lead, and as a result did not race as well. Now he's drawn towards the inside on a track that is good for speed horses, and he should turn in a maximum effort as such.


$4 to win on 2

$3 exacta, 2 with 1, 4 ($6 total)


$9 to win on 2

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


$12 to win on 2

$5 exacta key box, 2 with 1, 4 ($20 total)

$1 trifecta, 2, 4 with 1, 2, 4, 5 with 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 ($18 total)

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