Native Dancer: The Nearly Perfect Grey Ghost of Sagamore
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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.
Unlike last week, there are plenty of options for Stay Lucky for the July 4 holiday weekend. The Grade 3 Smile Sprint Stakes and the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park are Breeders' Cup Challenge Series "Win and You're In" qualifying races for the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint and Filly and Mare Sprint, respectively. Sunday at Woodbine, the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes is a new Challenge Series race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Let’s dig in to this week's contest races and decide how to approach them (numbers listed correspond to game play, not program number), and I'll update over the weekend to include the two graded stakes scheduled for Tuesday, July 4.
Friday, June 30
Bashford Manor Stakes (8:30 p.m. ET): Mo Diddley (#3) and Copper Bullet (#5) look like interesting prospects, but Ten City (#6) really caught my eye in his debut at Keeneland in April when he won by seven without breaking a sweat.
Saturday, July 1
Carry Back Stakes (5:02 p.m. ET): This race looks really wide open to me. Three Rules (#3) might be the class of the field but he’s lost five straight, including his most recent race when cutting back to sprint distances. Pass.
Princess Rooney Stakes Presented by Hardacre Farm (5:34 p.m. ET): There look to be five main contenders here — Birdatthewire (#2), Dearest (#3), Distinta (#4), Curlin’s Approval (#7) and Lightstream (#8) —plus a few others who could step up a be a legitimate factor. I’m looking elsewhere.
Mother Goose Stakes (5:50 p.m. ET): When assessing 3-year-olds at this time of year, I’m always looking for runners who might just be figuring things out rather than ones who might have already peaked. There are quite a few who fit that description here who could be budding stars, including Lockdown (#4), my pick in a pretty salty affair.
United Nations Stakes (5:57 p.m.): There are a number of very talented runners lined up to contest this Grade 1 race. I landed on Itsinthepost (#2), the 7-to-2 second choice on the morning line, but the race could go any number of ways and there are easier spots this week.
Dominion Day Stakes (5:58 p.m. ET): Melmich (#7) is a synthetic specialist who has 12 wins and 21 top-three finishes in 25 starts on Woodbine’s all-weather track. On the dirt, I might take a shot with Scuba (#2) and I think 9-to-5 morning-line favorite Are You Kidding Me (#5) is a formidable foe here, but I give the edge to Melmich.
Smile Sprint Stakes (6:06 p.m. ET): Imperial Hint (#2) is in terrific form entering the race off three straight wins. He’ll be coming off a layoff of 4 ½ months, but he’s been working very well and gets the services of Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano, who guided him to a win in September 2016.
Wilshire Stakes (7:30 p.m. ET): Five of the six runners entered are coming off a loss. Sheeza Milky Way (#6) comes into the race on a two-race winning streak but is 0-for-7 in stakes races. I like multiple graded stakes winner Prize Exhibit (#5) to get back on track here, but I don’t feel confident enough about it to let a significant streak ride on him.
Sunday, July 2
Highlander Stakes (1:39 p.m. ET): I like Noholdingback Bear (#2) to bounce back from a disappointing race in the Grade 2 True North Stakes on June 9. He has four wins and three seconds at this three-quarter-mile distance. He prefers a synthetic surface, and faces a tough field here, but I think he’s got a chance to run big as the third choice on the morning line.
King Edward Stakes (2:53 p.m. ET): I like one of Hall of Famer Roger Attfield’s two entrants to win this race — Tower of Texas (#5) off a career-best performance or Shakhimat (#6) getting the services of elite rider Javier Castellano. Leaning toward 2-to-1 morning-line favorite Tower of Texas.
Singspiel Stakes (4:18 p.m. ET): The morning-line favorite, Reporting Star (#3), has lost nine straight races and the second choice, Bullards Alley (#6), has lost 12 straight. Feels like an opportunity to take a stand against a couple of bad favorites, but the problem is there’s no option that jumps out as the obvious choice for Stay Lucky purposes. I’ll pass ...
Dance Smartly Stakes (4:51 p.m. ET): Suffused (#5) is the 8-to-5 morning-line favorite and a very talented 5-year-old mare for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, but I’m going to try to beat her with Rainha Da Bateria (#4), the 2-to-1 second choice. Rainha Da Bateria has run well in both of her starts on the turf at Woodbine and should improve in her second start of the year following a close fourth in May in her return from a seven-month layoff for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown.
Tuesday, July 4
Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes (4:31 p.m. ET): Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown has three entrants in this race, including 2-to-1 morning-line favorite Fourstar Crook (#10). She’s won seven straight and is 4-for-5 at this distance, but she’ll be testing open stakes company for the first time. I think she’s vulnerable here and there are at least 3-4 horses I could see winning this race, so I’ll look elsewhere.
American Stakes (6:30 p.m. ET): This race looks pretty wide open to me. Om (#4) is a consistent runner who has come up just a little short in his last four starts; Alert Bay (#5) is 7-for-14 at this distance and has never run out of the top three at Santa Anita; Flamboyant (#8) ran the best race of his career on the Santa Anita turf and is dangerous when he’s at his best; and Pee Wee Reese (#9) improved dramatically when switching to the turf, on which he has three wins and a second in four starts. There are a few others in here capable of winning, which is a drawn-out way to say I’m passing on this race for Stay Lucky purposes.
Top Stay Lucky Plays
(Top plays – 12 winners/21 starters)
1. Rainha Da Bateria (Dance Smartly Stakes)
2. Imperial Hint (Smile Sprint Stakes)
3. Ten City (Bashford Manor Stakes)
4. Tower of Texas (King Edward Stakes)