Stay Lucky Weekly Guide: Churchill Charm, Santa Anita Storm

Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

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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.

Let’s take a look at this week's contest races and how to approach them (numbers listed correspond to game play, not program number).


Red Bank S. (4:52 p.m. ET): All Included (#2) has been in terrific form this year with a win and two seconds in three starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. He comes into the Red Bank off a win at this distance in the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes and seems a logical choice here. The big concern is if rain leaves the turf course softer than his liking. I’ve also really liked what I’ve seen from Synchrony (#3) in two attempts on turf. Synchrony looks like a major threat as is Can’thelpbelieving (#4) if he can get back to his top form of a year ago when he won a graded stakes and ran third in the Grade 1 Man o’ War.

Nassau S. (4:55 p.m. ET): Catch a Glimpse (#2) has always been a personal favorite of mine, and at her best she’s the class of this field. Problem is, she’s lost five straight. Stormy Victoria (#1) enters off a strong effort for trainer Christophe Clement, 2016 Canadian Horse of the Year Caren (#4) is 3-for-4 on the Woodbine turf, and Starship Jubilee (#7) rides a three-race winning streak into the Nassau. I give Caren a slight edge here.

Daytona S. (5 p.m. ET): The downhill turf course at Santa Anita Park is unique for a number of reasons, including the initial charge around a right-hand bend, then traveling down a hill and crossing over of the dirt main track to get into the stretch. I always value experience and success on this turf course above all else when handicapping downhill races, but for the Daytona, four of the six runners have a win on the course. I opted for consistency and landed on Stormy Liberal (#6), who has won three straight on this turf course, including a score that resulted in his career-best Equibase Speed Figure. With five wins and three seconds in eight races on the downhill turf course, Stormy Liberal looks like a top play this week.

Winning Colors S. (5:21 p.m. ET): Finley’sluckycharm (#6) is 4-for-4 lifetime at Churchill Downs and has four wins and a second in her last five starts. She also appears to be the lone speed in this race, which given her class edge figures to be difficult for the others to overcome. My top pick of the week.

Gamely S. (6 p.m. ET): Lady Eli (#6) has the name recognition as one of horse racing’s true fan favorites, and she’s as classy as they come. But she’s shipping across the country for this race and facing Avenge (#1), whose two best races were on the Santa Anita turf and who looks like the controlling speed in the Gamely. Avenge led into deep stretch in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November and finished third by a length in a stellar performance. Lady Eli finished second in the Filly and Mare Turf, but Avenge figures to face no pressure early in the Gamely and this race is an eighth of a mile shorter. It’s a coin flip for me.

Arlington Classic S. (6:09 p.m. ET): The majority of this field is 3-year-olds who have run well on turf and will now test the synthetic Polytrack main track at Arlington. The key horse in this race is clearly Fast and Accurate (#6). He enters the race off an unplaced finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, which followed a visually impressive win in the Grade 3 JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Turfway Park. If Fast and Accurate came out of the Derby in good shape, he’s the one to beat. If it took a lot out of him, this race is wide open.

Monrovia S. (7 p.m. ET): Another race on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, this one for females. Six of the nine horses entered have a win on this course and two others have a second. My top picks are Illuminant (#4) and Paquita Coqueta (#7), but there are at least four others who would not surprise me at all, which makes this race a pass for me.

Gold Cup at Santa Anita S. (7:30 p.m. ET): Unless there is an absolute standout like California Chrome or Arrogate, I rarely have my finger on the pulse of the older male division in Southern California. My instincts usually stink. There is a decent amount of speed in this race, which could set it up for a horse coming from off the pace. Hard Aces (#9) won this race in 2015 and comes in off a nice win at 1 ½ miles, but I lean toward Big John B (#7), who has raced primarily on grass but been very good in his last three races on dirt (two wins and a second). Big John B finished second to Hard Aces in their most recent start and I think he turns the tables on his familiar rival at what looks like his best distance.


Marine S. (4:52 p.m. ET): If you don’t have a streak of two or more heading into Sunday, take a shot on this race. Why not try to go into the upcoming week with some momentum? There are four primary contenders I see: Conquest Lemonraid (#2) stretching out in distance for one of Canada’s top trainers in Mark Casse; Souper Tapit (#4) coming off a disappointing effort in the Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, also for Casse; Malibu Secret (#5) from the historic Sam-Son Farm breeding operation coming off an impressive maiden win; and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s Channel Maker (#6), making the switch from turf to try synthetic for the first time. I lean toward Souper Tapit. He looked like a budding star in his career debut, but has lost two straight with some trouble in those trips. By Tapit of out the Grade 1-winnning Hard Spun mare Zo Impressive, he should like the synthetic surface and I think he’s the most talented of this bunch.

Charles Whittingham S. (7 p.m. ET): You can make a compelling argument for Ashleyluvssugar (#2) or Texas Ryano (#10), but Itsinthepost (#3) is in career-best form having finished first or second in his last seven races and coming off back-to-back Grade 2 wins. I do think the distance suits Ashleyluvssugar a little more than Itsinthepost, but I think the latter has the class to overcome that slight knock.

Top 2 Stay Lucky Plays

(Top plays – 7 winners/11 starters)

1. Finley’sluckycharm (Winning Colors S.)

2. Stormy Liberal (Daytona S.)

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