Piassek's Plays: Wagers in the Windy City

Fans enjoy watching horses in the Arlington International Racecourse paddock. (Coady Photography)

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 17

Arlington International Racecourse, Race 6, $100,000 Arlington Stakes, post time 6:03 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Friday, July 16: 1 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, July 17: 1 p.m.-2 p.m. on FS1; 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.-7 p.m. and 8 p.m.-10 p.m. on FS2; 5 p.m.-6 p.m. on NBC; 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on FOX; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, July 18: 1 p.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on FS2; 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. on FS1; post time varies on TVG

#7 Bizzee Channel: Eight horses will compete in this 1 3/16-mile turf race, but all eyes will be on only one of them. Zulu Alpha looms large in here at 6-5 on the morning line. Last year, he won three graded stakes races, including the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Presented by Runhappy. He's won a total of seven graded stakes races in his career, with earnings of more than $2.2 million. However, there is a catch. He has not raced since Sept. 12 of last year, when he was third in the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs. This start will be his first in 308 days. None of his seven rivals is coming off longer than a seven-week break. 

It's possible he's classy enough to win this race anyway, but I think he's worth a shot against. I'll take that shot with Bizzee Channel, for trainer Larry Rivelli and jockey Jareth Loveberry. These two are a near-unstoppable combination at Arlington, hitting at 35% when they team up over the last 60 days. This gelding likes this track, having won three of his four career starts on the surface, and is coming off a recent win here. He won a third-level allowance optional claiming race by 2 1/4 lengths, getting a great trip and drawing off to victory. He has good tactical speed, experience over the track, and is in career-best form. If he hangs around his 4-1 morning line, he'll make for a very reasonable bet.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$4 to win on 7

$2 exacta: 7 with 2,5,6 ($6 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$8 to win on 7

$5 exacta: 7 with 2,5,6 ($15 total)

$1 exacta: 5,6 with 7 ($2 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$19 to win on 7

$5 exacta: 7 with 2,5,6 ($15 total)

$1 trifecta: 7 with 2,5,6 with 2,3,5,6,8 ($16 total)

Arlington International Racecourse, Race 8, $100,000  Modesty Stakes, post time 7:11 p.m. ET

#12 Breeze Rider: If this filly was drawn a few spots further to the inside, I'd feel a lot more confident in her chances. As is, she's still a serious threat to take them gate-to-wire. She did just that in her last start at Indiana Grand Race Course, drawing away to a 2 1/2-length win after setting the pace. The plus side for her is that there is not much other early speed in the race. If Deshawn Parker is aggressive enough, he can hustle his filly to the top and clear to the lead and the rail by the time they hit the first turn. It doesn't hurt that there's a long run into the first turn, giving her time to get to the front without having to worry about getting stuck wide on a turn. If she's allowed to do her thing on the front end, she'll be tough to catch.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$4 to win on 12

$3 exacta box: 4,12 ($6 total)

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$7 to win on 12

$3 exacta box: 4,7,12 ($18 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$20 to win on 12

$5 exacta box: 4,7,12 ($30 total)

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