Stay Lucky Guide: Evening Stakes Action Under the Twin Spires


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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.

With a historic Triple Crown season in the books, the attention of the racing world shifts to this fall’s 35thBreeders’ Cup World Championships, and two "Win and You’re In" prep races Saturday featured during Churchill Downs’ Downs After Dark card headline a solid weekend of graded stakes action.

Saturday, June 16

Summertime Oaks (6 p.m. ET): Chocolate Martini (#5) is an interesting starter shipping to Santa Anita Park from the Midwest where she was last seen running a not-bad fifth in the Longines Kentucky Oaks, and Ollie’s Candy (#6) is two-for-two but has not raced on dirt yet. I favor Thirteen Squared (#1) in this race based on the past company she’s kept (Dream Tree, Midnight Bisou) and her penchant for speed, but overall I’ll pass on this race for Stay Lucky purposes.

Matt Winn Stakes (7:57 p.m. ET): This 1 1/16-mile race drew several horses that were on the Kentucky Derby trail such as Combatant (#5) and Tiz Mischief (#6) and a couple of late-blooming types in Home Base (#2) and King Zachary (#4). But the clear standout is Ax Man (#7), who enters off of a pace-controlling win in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico and could end up being the second-best 3-year-old in Bob Baffert’s barn after Justify when all is said and done. Mike Smith is in Louisville to ride, and there’s not much speed lined up to challenge him in the Matt Winn.

Wise Dan Stakes (8:30 p.m. ET): World Approval (#4) has a huge class edge on this field, and if his puzzling fifth-place finish in the Frank Kilroe Mile back in March was an aberration and he can get back to his Breeders’ Cup Mile-winning form, he should win the Wise Dan. That said, I’m cautious to support him as a Stay Lucky pick in a race with several horses who have had success at Churchill such as Divisidero (#1), Mr. Misunderstood (#5), and Parlor (#8).

Fleur de Lis Handicap (9:05 p.m. ET): This event brought together nine fillies and mares angling for an automatic berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which will be held under the twin spires in November. Several have good Churchill form, including Blue Prize (#3), who ran the best race of her career here last fall in the Falls City Handicap, Apologynotaccepted (#8), second in this race last year to Forever Unbridled, and Farrell (#9), who is 3-for-8 at Churchill and ran second in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes Presented by last month. I’ve been a fan of Awestruck (#6) since last year and she may finally be rounding into stakes-winning form, but overall there’s no Stay Lucky standout in this competitive race.

Stephen Foster Handicap (9:39 p.m. ET): Backyard Heaven (#6) has won three straight races, including the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet at Churchill last month, and hasn’t really been challenged in any of them. I think this prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic drew a tougher field than the Alysheba, and Honorable Duty (#1) is especially dangerous if he is circling back into last year’s form where he won three of seven starts (including a Grade 3 stakes at Churchill at this distance) and finished second to Gun Runner in the Foster. But overall, Backyard Heaven is a solid Stay Lucky play this week.

Regret Stakes (10:11 p.m. ET): This 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies drew 13 entries, with no clear standout. It’s a great betting race, mixing fillies with back class such as Grade 1 winner Heavenly Love (#1) with ones who are ready to take the step up to stakes company such as Shug McGaughey-trained Romantic Moment (#11) – there’s your date night exacta box.. Nearly every horse entered has a shot to win the Regret, and so I’m looking elsewhere for a solid Stay Lucky pick.

Sunday, June 17

Trillium Stakes (5:30 p.m. ET): Seven out of the ten fillies and mares entered in this 1 1/16-mile race over Woodbine’s Polytrack have more than one career win on synthetic tracks. The race is wide open and there are better Stay Lucky picks for the weekend elsewhere. My Arch Enemy (#3) does look like the lone speed, however, and she defeated two other starters in this race in her most recent effort, which came at the same track and distance.

Poker Stakes (5:50 p.m. ET): Oscar Performance, a three-time Grade 1 winner, returns to make his first start of the year in this mile race on Belmont Park’s Widener turf course. But he’s facing a quality field and is no clear-cut choice. I’m backing Fire Away (#8) for a mild upset; he won the Dixie Stakes recently at Pimlico when that race was rained off of the turf but prior to that won two of three on turf going back to last fall for Shug McGaughey and Phipps Stable and has a good midpack stalking style for this race. But he’s not a Stay Lucky pick for me this weekend.

Patrick’s Top Stay Lucky Plays:

1. Ax Man

2. Backyard Heaven

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