Stay Lucky Weekly Guide: Strong Options for Belmont Stakes Weekend

Gambling
Fans at Belmont Park keep a close eye on the action on 2016 Belmont Stakes day. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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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.

Belmont Park is the home to all but one of this week's contest races, with the focus on the Belmont Stakes card that features nine graded stakes on June 10. 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).


Thursday, June 8

Wonder Again Stakes (3:03 p.m. ET): This race looks devoid of pace, which probably means a very leisurely tempo and a mad dash for the finish in the stretch. Probable favorite New Money Honey (#7) was disappointing when sixth in her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She’s one of three Chad Brown-trained fillies in here with a chance. Mark Casse also has a strong one-two punch with Dream Dancing (#2) and Corporate Queen (#5), the latter switching to turf. There are so many strong favorites this week that I’m inclined to pass here.

Intercontinental Stakes (5:48 p.m. ET): If I were going to play a race Thursday, I’d probably try Take These Chains (#9) for trainer Chad Brown in this race. She’s 3-for-3 lifetime and, while this is by far her biggest challenge to date, I think she’s a good bet to stay unbeaten.

Friday, June 9

True North Stakes (4:42 p.m. ET): Since switching back to sprinting, Whitmore (#8) has  won five straight races. He enters this race after reeling in Grade 1 winner A. P. Indian to win the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes on the Preakness undercard. He’s never raced at Belmont Park, which is the only real question. Stallwalkin’ Dude (#4) probably has the best shot for an upset, but I think Whitmore is a safe bet this week.

New York Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (5:14 p.m. ET): Sea Calisi (#6) or Dacita (#8) probably vie for favoritism here, but Hawksmoor (#5) also looked strong in winning the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes on May 13 on rain-softened ground. Quidura (#1) and Suffused (#2) also are very nice; Sassy Little Lila (#9) probably sets the pace with no pressure and she’s finished first or second in each of her last six starts. In other words, there are better spots for Stay Lucky this week.

Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (5:46 p.m. ET): This race drew six horses from Europe, including Red Cardinal (#10) coming off a Group 2 win at this two-mile distance and 2016 Irish St. Leger winner Wicklow Brave (#12). Taghleeb (#11) is a tough, tested U.S.-based runner with a win at two miles. Too many variables for me to feel really confident, but I’m giving the edge to Red Cardinal. He just won’t be a top Stay Lucky play.

Bed o’ Roses Invitational Stakes (6:18 p.m. ET): High Ridge Road (#2) defeated By the Moon (#9) in head-to-head meetings in December and February at Laurel Park. I’ll bet By the Moon is favored to turn the tables on her familiar rival coming into the race off a win at Belmont, where she has three wins and a second in four starts. High Ridge Road, on the other hand, comes off a pair of defeats and has two thirds in two starts at Belmont. But if this race comes down to a throw-down battle in the stretch between these two, give the edge to High Ridge Road, who is definitely the more tenacious of the two. I think she gets the better of By the Moon again, but it looks like a coin flip.

Saturday, June 10

Brooklyn Invitational Stakes (12:39 p.m. ET): Send It In (#4) is the 7-5 morning-line favorite here, but I prefer the 2-1 second choice, Tu Brutus (#5). He ran a close second to Send It In two starts back going 1 ¼ miles and I think the extra quarter-mile here will really suit him. He enters off an 11-length win at 1 3/8 miles at Belmont on May 7.

Acorn Stakes (1:11 p.m. ET): Abel Tasman (#3) is at her best right now coming off an eye-catching win in the Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks. She beat a better field in that race and she should be tough as the heavy favorite in the Acorn.

Ogden Phipps Stakes (1:52 p.m. ET): There are a few very talented fillies in here to challenge champion Songbird (#5) in this race — Highway Star (#1), Paid Up Subscriber (#2) and Carina Mia (#7) are legitimately elite racemares — but unless Songbird has lost a step this is her race to lose. Songbird will very likely be the most-picked horse this week in Stay Lucky … for good reason.

Jaipur Invitational Stakes (2:34 p.m. ET): There are six horses between 7-2 and 8-1 on the morning-line. I’ve always liked betting on turf sprints because of the unpredictability factor, but for Stay Lucky purposes I won’t venture near this race.

Woody Stephens Stakes (3:15 p.m. ET): American Anthem (#8) scored for me as a best bet on May 13 at Santa Anita, but as the 5-2 morning-line favorite here, I’m inclined to pass. He has to ship across the country — he ran a dull 10th in his one start outside of California — and he faces a much-better group than he did in his last race. I prefer Long Haul Bay (#10) and Wild Shot (#7), but for Stay Lucky purposes I’ll pass on this race.

Longines Just a Game Stakes (3:58 p.m. ET): I was surprised Celestine (#5) was pegged as the third choice on the morning line at 3-1 odds. She’s a terrific filly who is unbeaten in two starts this season and is 3-for-3 at Belmont Park. But, Roca Rojo (#2) has won three of her last four races with the lone defeat a runner-up finish by a nose in a Grade 1 race. Dickinson (#1) has won three straight and five of her last six, and she won her only start at Belmont Park. I also really like Sassy Little Lila (#6) and Antonoe (#7), so it’s too wide open for a Stay Lucky play.

Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap (4:41 p.m. ET): With the defection of Connect, the Met Mile became a much more interesting race. I wouldn’t discourage you from playing 5-2 morning-line favorite Mor Spirit (#9), but he’s 0-for-2 venturing outside of California (granted one was the 2016 Kentucky Derby) and I think Rally Cry (#2) and Awesome Slew (#12) are both sitting on big races. Sharp Azteca (#5) also must be respected off a third-place finish in the $1 million Godolphin Mile.

Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap (5:21 p.m. ET): Believe in Bertie (#1) had won four straight before a close runner-up finish by a head to Roca Rojo in the Distaff Turf Mile Stakes Presented by Longines on the Kentucky Derby undercard. She earned a new career-best 118 Equibase Speed Figure for that race and I think she’ll be alone on the lead. Believe in Bertie gets back to the winner’s circle here.

Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (5:37 p.m. ET): There are seven horses between 3-1 and 8-1 in what might be the best betting race of the entire weekend, but a tough race for Stay Lucky players. I lean toward Potemkin (#6) shipping in from Germany for trainer Andreas Wohler. He’s a Group 1 winner in Italy who has won nine of 15 lifetime and four of six starts at this 1 ¼ -mile distance.

Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (6:37 p.m. ET): My pick for this race is Japanese invader Epicharis (#11). I really like him — for reasons outlined in this week’s Making the Grade — but it’s tough to make a case for him as a top-three play with so many strong favorites in other races. This race is pretty wide open with the defection of champion Classic Empire. I think Irish War Cry (#7) is eligible to bounce back in a big way from a disappointing Kentucky Derby and quite a few people I greatly respect are pushing their chips in on Tapwrit (#2).

Top 3 Stay Lucky Plays

(Top plays – 9 winners/16 starters)

1.  Songbird (Ogden Phipps Stakes)

2.  Whitmore (True North Stakes)

3.  Abel Tasman (Acorn Stakes)

Three others to Consider

Take These Chains (Intercontinental Stakes)

Tu Brutus (Brooklyn Invitational Stakes)

Believe in Bertie (Old Forester Mint Julep Handicap)

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