Stay Lucky Weekly Guide: Navigating Rough Surf at Del Mar


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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 weekend the focus is on Del Mar, which will host the three graded stakes on Saturday, highlighted by the track's marquee race: the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes. The Pacific Classic and the Del Mar Handicap presented by the Japan Racing Association are part of the Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races on the Road to the Breeders’ Cup. The winners of the Pacific Classic, a 1 1/4-mile dirt race race, and the Del Mar Handicap, a 1 3/8-mile turf race, receive automatic berths to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, respectively.

Both will be featured in an hour-long broadcast by NBC Sports as part of the network’s “Win and You’re In” series of telecasts presented by Lane’s End and America’s Best Racing. The broadcast will air on NBCSN from 8 - 9 p.m. ET.

Saturday, Aug. 19

Play the King Stakes (4:47 p.m. ET): You could make a case for any of the eight entrants as a winner — some a significantly better argument than others — and it looks like a well-matched group. It’ll be fun to handicap and bet this race, but I’ll pass for Stay Lucky purposes.

Lake Placid Stakes (4:49 p.m. ET): La Coronel (#2) ran three very good races before heading over to the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in England in June and holding her own in a Group 1 race there when fifth. Proctor’s Ledge (#4) and Party Boat (#2) enter the race in good form off a one-two finish in the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga on July 21. Uni (#6) might be the best of the bunch after running third in the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes in her U.S. debut.

Alabama Stakes (5:22 p.m. ET): This race came up especially tough. New Money Honey (#1) will try dirt for the first time off a victory against a quality field in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes; Holy Helena (#2) defeated males to win the Queen’s Plate, a Canadian classic race, in her most recent start; and Unchained Melody (#5) drilled a hole in the wind when winning the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes by three lengths on July 1. Add in Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes winner Actress (#9), Mother Goose runner-up Lockdown (#4), Grade 1 Acorn Stakes runner-up Salty (#6), and Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks runner-up Elate (#7) and you’ve got a heck of a handicapping puzzle. I’ll look elsewhere.

Violet Stakes (5:49 p.m. ET): I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Beauly (#6) in three starts in North America and Light Up Our World (#2) could run a big one in her third start off a long layoff, but Pricedtoperfection (#8) looks perfectly spotted here for trainer Graham Motion and I think she halts a six-race winless stretch.

Canadian Derby (7:30 p.m. ET): Trooper John (#2) has won five straight stakes, all at Northlands Park, and looks like the probable favorite. Midwest invader Chief Know It All (#4) has wins at Keeneland and Oaklawn Park and last finished second in a nice allowance race at Churchill Downs, while Aqua Frio (#6) owns the highest Equibase Speed Figure in the field having earned a 107 for a stakes win at Emerald Downs in July. I think he’s your winner.

Del Mar Handicap presented by the Japan Racing Association (8 p.m. ET): The are a few nice runners in here, but ultimately I think it comes down to a rematch between the top-two finishers of the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes on July 22 at Del Mar — Hunt (#11) and Ashleyluvssugar (#8), respectively. Hunt has improved when stretching out in distance, but this is a quarter-mile longer than he’s ever raced. Ashleyluvssugar won this race a year ago and finished second in it in 2015, so I give him a slight edge.

TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (8:30 p.m. ET): This is a better field than the one Arrogate (#8) faced in his last start when he ran a clunker as the 1-to-20 favorite in the TVG San Diego Handicap, but I have a hunch we’ll see a much, much better Arrogate, too. If he’s on his game, they’re all running for second, but after the San Diego there is reason to doubt. I’m going back to Arrogate … I think he rebounds in a big way.

Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club (9:30 p.m. ET): This is another race that looks wide open to me. I lean toward Con Te Partiro (#5) but I also think Beau Recall (#12) and a few others have a shot in a full field of 14.

Sunday, Aug. 20

Del Mar Mile Handicap (8:30 p.m. ET): I thought with a six-horse field there would be a great Stay Lucky opportunity, but I actually could see any one of the six winning. Five of the six have run well at Del Mar and excel at this distance and the other is an exciting South American multiple Group 1 winner making his U.S. debut.

Sky Classic Stakes (3:39 p.m. ET): Starship Jubilee (#4) has won five straight and she’s 2-for-2 at Woodbine, but I think she’s vulnerable tackling males for the first time in a Grade 2 races. She’ll face the top three finishers from the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes, and I like the runner-up from that race, Can’thelpbelieving (#1), to turn the tables after encountering traffic trouble in the Nijinsky.

Top 4 Stay Lucky Plays

(Top plays – 20 winners/44 starters)

1. Arrogate (TVG Pacific Classic Stakes)

2. Uni (Lake Placid Stakes)

3. Can’thelpbelieving (Sky Classic Stakes)

4. Aqua Frio (Canadian Derby)

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