Piassek’s Plays: Strategy for Ogden Phipps, Manhattan, Belmont Stakes

Fans watch the action on Belmont Stakes day in 2019. (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, June 5

Belmont Park, Race 7, Ogden Phipps Stakes, 3:18 p.m. ET

weekend TV schedule

Friday, June 4: 12:30 p.m.-5 p.m. ET and 6 p.m.-7 p.m. on FS2; 5 p.m.-6 p.m. on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, June 5:
11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.-8:15 p.m. on FS2; 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on NBCSN; 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Sunday, June 6: 12:30 p.m.-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

#3 Letruska: A star-studded field of fillies and mares is set this year’s Ogden Phipps. The field includes Shesdaresthedevil, winner of the Longines Kentucky Oaks last September.

Although my top pick is the morning-line favorite, I’m hoping that she slides through the cracks in the wagering somewhat. Letruska has won four of her last six races, all of them in graded stakes. Last out, she set the pace and held on to win the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap, battling with champion Monomoy Girl in the stretch for a nose victory. She won the Grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic Stakes and the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes in similar style. She’ll encounter pace pressure from Shedaresthedevil, who outgunned her to the lead in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes and held on for a head win, but she’s drawn toward the inside of that rival and keeps Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle.


$6 to win on 3

$4 exacta: 3 with 5


$15 to win on 3

$10 exacta: 3 with 5


$25 to win on 3

$15 exacta: 3 with 5

$10 exacta: 5 with 3

Belmont Park, Race 10, Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes, 5:38 p.m. ET

#7 Channel Cat: This race is loaded with top grass horses, including the top two finishers from the Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic in Colonel Liam and Domestic Spending. I’m trying to beat both of them with Channel Cat.

He’s coming off a mild upset win in the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes, a win he earned honestly. He battled on the lead with multiple stakes winner Field Pass, and the two went through fast fractions. The first quarter went in 22.69 seconds, a blazing pace for a long-distance grass race, and the opening half-mile was a similarly speedy :47.53. Field Pass backed up and eventually lost by 6 ½ lengths, but Channel Cat hung in there on the lead. He was clear late and, although Gufo surged at him, he held on for a nose victory. The only other speed horse in the race, Tribhuvan, is drawn to his direct outside. If Channel Cat can shake him off early on, he’s going to get the pace setup he wants and will be tough in the end.


$4 to win on 7

$1 exacta box: 7,9,10 ($6 total)


$7 to win on 7

$2 exacta box: 7,9,10 ($12 total)

$1 trifecta box: 7,9,10 ($6 total)


$14 to win on 7

$2 exacta box, 7, 9, 10 ($12 total)

$1 trifecta box, 1, 7, 9, 10 ($24 total)

Belmont Park, Race 11, Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, 6:49 p.m. ET

#7 Rock Your World: Going into the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, Rock Your World loomed as one of the major contenders and deservedly so. He won the Grade 1 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby by 4 ¼ lengths and looked like one of the most likely pacesetters in the Derby. However, he lost all chance at the start when he broke awkwardly and got knocked around. Forced back to 10th early on, he ended up soundly beaten. Considering how most of the pacesetters in the Derby held on to finish in the top four, one can reasonably assume that Rock Your World would’ve done very well had he broken cleanly.

After a few weeks off, he’s back in the Belmont. There are no other pure speed horses in the race, so he shouldn’t have too tough of a time setting the pace. There’s a very long run into the first turn, so he’ll have plenty of time to get toward the inside. He looks like the kind who will have no trouble handling the long distance and is a great bet to take them gate-to-wire.


$8 to win on 7

$2 exacta: 7 with 2


$15 to win on 7

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


$18 to win on 7

$10 exacta: 7 with 2,3 ($20 total)

$3 trifecta: 7 with 2,3 with 2,3,4 ($12 total)


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