Stay Lucky Guide: Closer Look at Labor Day Weekend


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Stay Lucky offers participants the opportunity to win great prizes by stringing together winners in Thoroughbred races. Unbroken streaks of five, seven, nine, 14, 17 and 20 reward the players with a prize or choice of prizes. Terms and conditions apply.

The object is simple: pick winners from North American graded stakes races that draw at least six entrants. Races will be scored in real time but streaks will be updated only once daily to make sure they are scored in the correct order.

Pick as many races each weekend as you like, but be sure to play at least one race every weekend or your streak will be reset.

This Labor Day weekend the focus is on Saratoga and Del Mar with key graded stakes races on both coasts for 2-year-old males and females. There are multiple Stay Lucky races on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but remember that Monday races count toward next week if you only plan to play one race this weekend. Be sure to pick at least one on Saturday or Sunday to keep a contest streak intact.

National television coverage of the weekend races will include two races that did not qualify as Stay Lucky races because they drew less than six entrants. NBCSN will broadcast the Woodward Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, which airs on from 6 – 7 p.m. ET as part of its “Win and You’re In” Series Presented by Lane’s End and America’s Best Racing. While the Woodward is not a “Win and You’re In” race, NBCSN’s telecast will also show the $350,000 Spinaway Stakes from Saratoga, which is a Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Saturday, Sept. 2

Saranac Stakes (5:36 p.m. ET): Bricks and Mortar (#4) won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes impressively on Aug. 4 at Saratoga to run his unbeaten record to 4-for-4.  He faces some solid competition here in Hall of Fame runner-up Yoshida (#2), turf stakes winner Master Plan (#3), and Voodoo Song (#5), who is 4-for-4 on grass, but I think he handles this test to remain undefeated.

Glens Falls Stakes (7:17 p.m. ET): I expect Harmonize (#8) to be a popular pick getting some class relief after finishing fourth in back-to-back Grade 1 races. But I think German-bred Sarandia (#7) is eligible to improve after running sixth in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes three weeks ago and I really like the improvement from my top pick War Flag (#4) for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

Del Mar Debutante Stakes (8:10 p.m. ET): I usually avoid 2-year-old filly races until later in the fall, but Spectator (#3) looked terrific in winning the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes on this track on Aug. 5. She’s only stretching out from 6 ½ to seven furlongs, so distance should not be a major hurdle, and I think this field is of similar quality to the Sorrento, which she won by 5 ½ lengths.

John C. Mabee Stakes (9:10 p.m. ET): With the top five runners from the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, a Grade 1 winner making her first start since December, two other last-out stakes winners and the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes runner-up among deep a field of 13, I’m looking elsewhere this week.

Sunday, Sept. 3

Prioress Stakes (5:38 p.m. ET): I don't see a true standout in the field. It looks like there could be five or six fillies, including several of the probable favorites, vying for the lead so I'll look for an easier spot.

Del Mar Derby (8:40 p.m. ET): Sharp Samurai (#5) figures to be the favorite off back-to-back stakes wins. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go against him, but I do think there are five or six horses entered that are capable of winning, so I won’t play the race.

Monday, Sept. 4

Greenwood Cup Stakes (3:32 p.m. ET): Last year’s Greenwood Cup winner Scuba (#1) is rounding back into top form. I think he’s got a great shot at a repeat win, but I am a little concerned Midnight Cello (#6) might be uncontested on the lead and take them from start to finish.

Bernard Baruch Handicap (3:53 p.m. ET): I really like a rested Heart to Heart's (#1) chances to led from start to finish. He's the controlling speed and very good at this distance.

Turf Monster Handicap (4:07 p.m. ET): This is a very good, deep field, but you have to love Pure Sensation (#4) on this turf course. He’s 3-for-3 on the grass at Parx, having won the Grade 3 Parx Dash in July by 5 ¾ lengths and this race last year by 2 ¼ lengths. An unplaced finish in his last race is a bit of a concern, but I still like his chances.

Smarty Jones Stakes (4:42 p.m. ET): This drew an interesting group of 3-year-olds, led by front-running Grade 3 West Virginia Derby winner Colonelsdarktemper (#2). I expect Wood Memorial Stakes runner-up Battalion Runner (#3) to set the pace, and it could be a quick one. If it is, that might set up the late kick of multiple graded stakes winner Hence (#6). Southern California shipper Pavel (#4) also could be dangerous for trainer Doug O’Neill. I’m going to stay away for Stay Lucky.

Hopeful Stakes (5:05 p.m. ET): I think the extra eighth of a mile will allow Free Drop Billy (#8) to turn the tables on Firenze Fire (#3), who beat him by a length in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes in July.

Del Mar Futurity (8:40 p.m. ET): Run Away (#3) has been very impressive in winning each of his three career races, including a 3 ½-length romp in the Best Pal Stakes in his most recent race. But there are four debut winners between 7-2 and 6-1 odds in here who could be any kind as well as a few others with a shot to win. If your streak is at zero heading into the race, take a shot on Run Away or one of the others, but I’d wait for the weekend if I had a nice streak rolling rather than roll the dice here.

Top 4 Stay Lucky Plays

(Top plays – 22 winners/51 starters)

1. Spectator (Del Mar Debutante)

2. Bricks and Mortar (Saranac Stakes)

3. Pure Sensation (Turf Monster Handicap)

4. Free Drop Billy (Hopeful Stakes)

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