Piassek's Plays: Stakes Action on the Hawthorne Turf Course

Sharing differences of opinion at the track. (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, Oct. 23

Hawthorne, Race 4, $60,000 Illini Princess Stakes, post time 5:34 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Friday, Oct.22: 12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Oct.23: 12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Oct. 24: 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. on FS2; 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS1; post time varies on TVG

#6 Launch Away: A field of eleven Illinois-breds will travel one mile on the grass in the first of two stakes races on the Saturday card. Many of the horses in this race competed in the Mike Spellman Memorial Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 14. Launch Away went off at 42.20-1 that day, and made a decisive move from behind to split rivals and get up for third. She validated her form next out with an impressive win in an Illinois-bred allowance race. In that race, she turned the tables on Spellman runner-up Summer Day, who is also in this race. She returns to stakes company here and looms as possibly the most dangerous closer in the race. The winner of the Spellman, Bramble Queen, is likely to be the favorite. Considering Launch Away lost to her by 2 1/2 lengths that day, and will likely be several times the price, she looms as a great value play.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$4 to win on 6

$3 exacta box, 6 with 8

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$9 to win on 6

$5 exacta, 6 with 8, 10 ($10 total)

$3 exacta, 8, 10 with 6 ($6 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$14 to win on 6

$7 exacta, 6 with 8, 10, 11 ($21 total)

$5 exacta, 8, 10, 11 with 6 ($15 total)

Hawthorne Race 6, $100,000 Hawthorne Derby Presented by BetMakers, post time 6:30 p.m. ET

#1 Grey Streak: This race was originially scheduled for last Saturday but was pushed back a week due to rain. Grey Streak was impressive in victory two races back when he won an allowance at Ellis Park. He closed off a slow pace and fought hard in the stretch for a nose decision. He stepped up to stakes company in the Big Ass Fans Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs next out, and ran well despite a wide trip. Here, he'll cut back from 1 5/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles, and should save a lot more ground with his inside post position. As a young, rapidly-improving, lightly-raced 3-year-old, he's got a lot of upside.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$5 to win on 1

$5 exacta, 1 with 3

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$9 to win on 1

$8 exacta, 1 with 3, 6 ($16 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$20 to win on 1

$10 exacta, 1 with 3, 6 ($20 total)

$5 exacta, 3, 6 with 1 ($10 total)

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