Stay Lucky Guide: Elite 3-Year-Olds Star in Cotillion, Pennsylvania Derby


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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 week’s schedule is highlighted by a pair of $1 million, Grade 1 races at Parx Racing: the Pennsylvania Derby for 3-year-olds and the Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Travers Stakes winner West Coast ships in for the Pennsylvania Derby for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who also sends Abel Tasman, the front-runner for the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly, for the Cotillion.

Saturday, Sept. 23

Gallant Bob Stakes (4:14 p.m. ET): I’m tempted to just take Coal Front (#6) and place him at the top of my weekly picks, but I am a bit concerned how he will react to his first career defeat when he ran fifth in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes on Aug. 26. Petrov (#2) cutting back in distance is interesting and both Running Mate (#4) and American Pastime (#5) enter off impressive wins at this distance against older horses, but Coal Front looks like the lone speed in this race and should rebound.

Cotillion Stakes (4:55 p.m. ET): Abel Tasman (#11) has won three straight Grade 1 races and cemented her status as the leading contender for the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly. The Longines Kentucky Oaks winner can all but wrap the division championship up with a fourth Grade 1 win in the Cotillion. She’ll have to beat 11 3-year-old fillies, including the very game It Tiz Well (#4), but if she’s maintained her form in the nine weeks since her last start for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Abel Tasman is by far the best of this group.

Kelso Handicap (5:45 p.m. ET): The Kelso drew only six horses but it feels like an evenly matched group, led by Sharp Azteca (#5). He enters off a dominant 7 ½-length win in the Monmouth Cup Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and will be cutting back to a one-turn mile as the 124-pound highweight, giving seven or eight pounds to the opposition. With two wins, a second and a third this season and Equibase Speed Figures ranging from 118 to 125, he looks like a solid play this week. Divining Rod (#4) looks like the biggest threat with three wins in four starts going a mile.

Pennsylvania Derby (5:45 p.m. ET): This is another race with a heavy favorite in West Coast (#4), who carries a four-race winning streak into the Pennsylvania Derby and enters off a 3 ¼-length romp in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes. In this race, though, the competition looks better. I like Timeline’s (#1) chances to rebound after fading to fifth in the Haskell Invitational Stakes, Irap (#5) has proven to be a bulldog, and Irish War Cry (#8) is an elite talent. West Coast is the most likely winner, but I think a few others might be safer plays.

Charles Town Oaks Stakes (10:18 p.m. ET): This race looks too wide open to me to suggest it as a Stay Lucky race. In the full field, my preference would be Tequilita (#5), who has two wins and a third at this distance.

Sunday, Sept. 24

Gallant Bloom Handicap (3:36 p.m. ET): On paper, the Gallant Bloom looks like a coin flip between Highway Star (#1) and Carina Mia (#3), who finished second and third, respectively, in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes on Aug. 26. That could be the case, but I think Lucy N Ethel has a big shot in her first start for trainer Todd Pletcher. She won four straight, including a pair of graded stakes, to open her career before a last-place finish in October 2016 at Keeneland. Pletcher is very good off the layoff and Lucy N Ethel (#6) most likely will be the controlling speed from the outside.

Oklahoma Derby (8:46 p.m. ET): Battle of Midway (#3) ran third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands in May and has won two stakes in three races since, and West Virginia Derby winner Colonelsdarktemper (#7) must be respected. But if Haskell Invitational Stakes winner Girvin (#8) rebounds from an 11th-place finish in the Travers Stakes, the rest are running for second. The big question is, which Girvin shows up after he has come up empty in two of his last four starts?

Top Stay Lucky Plays

(Top plays – 26 winners/61 picks)

1. Coal Front (Gallant Bob Stakes)

2. Abel Tasman (Cotillion Stakes)

3. West Coast (Pennsylvania Derby)

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