Piassek's Plays: 2022 Kentucky Derby Day Selections

Fans and gamblers enjoy the surroundings of Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week. (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.

Churchill Downs, Race 7, $500,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU, post time 1:56 p.m. ET

derby and oaks tv schedule

Friday, May 6: 1-6 p.m. ET on USA Network

Saturday, May 7: 12-2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network; 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET on NBC

#10 Doppelganger: Twelve 3-year-olds will go one mile on the dirt in this year's Pat Day Mile, which is sort of a consolation prize race for horses not yet ready for prime time. Nine horses in here competed in a Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve qualifying race earlier this year. The likely favorite, Jack Christopher, was not one of them. He hasn't raced since a 2 3/4-length victory in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park last fall. He has a lot of talent, but I'm not willing to take a low price on a horse making their first start off a long break. He's 2-1 on the morning line but will likely go off at a lower price. That'll drive up the price on the other contenders, including my top pick. 

Doppelganger hasn't won in three starts this year, but showed some promise in his last two races. In the San Felipe Stakes two races back, he may have been no match for the winner, Forbidden Kingdom, but he recovered well from a bad start and outkicked the rest to finish second by 4 3/4 lengths. In the Arkansas Derby last out, he raced wide most of the way and flattened out on the turn. However, he closed well in the last eighth and managed to re-rally for fourth in an inspiring performance. He's now cutting back around one turn. I'm expecting him to rate a few paths off the rail near the pace and kick clear in the stretch. 

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$6 to win on 10

$4 exacta, 10 with 11

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$13 to win on 10

$6 exacta, 10 with 2, 11

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$20 to win on 10

$10 exacta, 10 with 2, 11, 12 ($30 total)

Churchill Downs, Race 8, $750,000 Derby City Distaff Stakes Presented by Kendall-Jackson Winery, post time 2:48 p.m. ET

#6 Bell's the One: This local superstar mare could fall through the cracks in the wagering of this Grade 1 sprint for fillies and mares. She loves the Churchill track, having finishing in the top two seven times from eight starts here. She has a dramatic closing style, often drafting well off the pace and flying to get up late. In her last six starts, her biggest margin of victory or defeat is a length. Last out, she made her first start in almost six months in the Madison Stakes at Keeneland, and made her usual rally only to fall 3/4 of a length behind victorious Just One Time. For her first start off the layoff, it was very impressive. Coming back to Churchill should help her even more. With lots of other top filly and mare sprinters in the field, Bell's the One could get overlooked. If she stays near her 5-1 morning line, she'll make a great bet.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$7 to win on 6

$3 exacta, 6 with 2

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$15 to win on 6

$5 exacta box, 2, 6 ($10 total)

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$30 to win on 6

$10 exacta box, 2, 6 ($20 total)

Churchill Downs, Race 12, $3,000,000 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, post time 6:57 p.m. ET

#12 Taiba: The race we've all been waiting for has finally arrived: the run for the roses! Taiba is very lightly raced but hasn't done anything wrong in his two career starts. He broke his maiden on March 5 going six furlongs by 7 1/2 lengths, then stretched out to 1 1/8 miles and won the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on Apri 9 by 2 1/4 lengths. He got a great setup in that race, as pacesetting Forbidden Kingdom stopped badly, and no one else behind Taiba made up much ground. However, I'm counting on Taiba to work out another great trip. He's drawn a great post position and has enough tactical speed that he can either go and set the early pace or rate off what is likely to be a fast tempo. Either way, he should be in the clear as they round the final turn, giving him ample opportunity to make the same kind of move he made in his first two races. 

Taiba's 12-1 on the morning line. It's very unlikely he'll go off at that high a price, but given the chaotic nature of Derby wagering, it's possible he goes off in the 6-1 to 8-1 range, which would be an excellent value. In that circumstance, I'm not messing around with any exotics wagers, and just betting Taiba straight-up.

Strategy on a $10 Budget

$10 to win on 12

Strategy on a $25 Budget

$25 to win on 12

Strategy on a $50 Budget

$50 to win on 12

Year-To-Date Statistics

34 starts: 7 wins, 6 seconds, 6 thirds

$10 Budget Plays: $340 bet, $339.20 returned

$25 Budget Plays: $850 bet, $972.95 returned

$50 Budget Plays: $1,700 bet, $1,928.14 returned 

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