Stars of Yesterday: Looking Back at Best Arkansas Derby Winners
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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 is highlighted by a flurry of Breeders' Cup prep races, including the Super Saturday card at Belmont Park and five Grade 1, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races on opening weekend at Santa Anita Park.
Friday, Sept. 28
Eddie D Stakes (6:30 p.m. ET): This race features an exciting rematch between familiar rivals Stormy Liberal (#3) and Conquest Tsunami (#8) as well as a couple of other intriguing entrants who are cutting back in distance for this 6 ½-furlong race on the downhill turf course. Conquest Tsunami defeated Stormy Liberal on this turf course back in February. They’ve faced twice since then with Stormy Liberal finishing ahead of Conquest Tsunami in the first race and the latter finishing ahead of the former in June. But I like the way Stormy Liberal comes into this race off back-to-back wins. I think he’ll get an ideal stalking trip on a turf course he loves.
Saturday, Sept. 29
Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup Stakes (3:30 p.m. ET): Projected (#7) has not won since prevailing in this race a year ago, but the 6-year-old gelding has run well with three seconds and two thirds in five starts in 2018, never beaten by more than two lengths. You have to figure top turf trainer Chad Brown will have him ready and he showed he liked the course in a clear win last year. O Dionysus (#5) looks like a serious threat with three wins in as many starts on the grass, but I give the edge to Projected.
Vosburgh Stakes (4:09 p.m. ET): Imperial Hint (#6) is, in my opinion, the top dirt sprinter in training and a standout in this race. Could he get beat? Of course, it’s horse racing. But he’s at his best distance (7-for-10) here against a below-average group for this race. I don’t think the Belmont main track is his favorite surface, but he won the Grade 2 True North at Belmont In July and has a sequence of eye-catching workouts leading up to this race.
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (4:42 p.m. ET): Robert Bruce (#1) probably will be a solid favorite here off an impressive win in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, boosting his career record to eight wins in nine starts, of which the first six came in his native Chile. But this is a deep field of accomplished older turf males plus one 3-year-old coming off a Grade 1 win, so I’m exercising a bit of caution.
Pilgrim Stakes (5:16 p.m. ET): Opry (#5) unleashed an eye-catching finishing rally to win the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes, covering the final five-sixteenths of a mile in about 28 ½ seconds, which is sizzling. I’m excited to see him again. He’s a top play.
Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (5:50 p.m. ET): Diversify (#6) has been terrific in his last three starts that have cemented his status as a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He won this race a year ago when allowed to set an uncontested pace, and that’s the key for him. When he coasts along all alone in front, he’s pretty much unbeatable, but I don’t think that happens here with Mendelssohn (#3) also entered. While Diversify remains the most-likely winner, I do view him as vulnerable here. I’m going to avoid this race for Stay Lucky purposes and I’m going to try to beat DIversify at the betting windows.
Chandelier Stakes (7 p.m. p.m. ET): I have a lot of trouble with 2-year-old fillies gauging how they will fare stretching out in distance for the first time. Pedigree plays a role, but trying two turns for the first time at this 1 1/16-mile distance can by tricky. I going to try to beat Del Mar Debutante winner Bellafina (#6) and the filly I landed on was Der Lu (#5), who won her debut in August and has been training well for this race for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
Rodeo Drive Stakes (7:30 p.m. ET): This race drew the top-two finishers from the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes on Sept. 1 at Del Mar, Vasilika (#6) and Cambodia (#8), respectively. Vasilika has won six in a row under careful handling by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, but I think Cambodia turns the tables here.
Awesome Again Stakes (8 p.m. ET): After Gun Runner’s retirement, it seemed like a given that West Coast (#5) would take over as the top older male after running third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at three and second in the $16-million Pegasus World Cup and $10 million Dubai World Cup in his first two starts of 2018. But West Coast has not raced since then, and in that time Accelerate (#6) has dominated the Southern California older male division with a 5 ½-length win in the Santa Anita Handicap, a 4 ¼-length runaway in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and a 12 ½-length romp in the TVG Pacific Classic. I respect West Coast, but it’s tough to take him off the bench against a horse as good as Accelerate is right now.
Ack Ack Handicap (9:39 p.m. ET): This is a solid field of milers, but I like C Z Rocket’s (#7) chances to get the job done. He’s 2-for-3 at Churchill, including a win at a mile, and earned his career-best 122 Equibase Speed Figure at the Louisville track.
Lukas Classic Stakes (10:11 p.m. ET): Mind Your Biscuits (#6) looks like the clear class of the field, but even though he ran second in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at this distance in August, I still think there are some concerns for the 5-year-old. A multiple Grade/Group 1-winning sprinter, Mind Your Biscuits is targeting the Breeders’ Cup Classic and this is a key step. He’s the fastest horse, so I like his chances, but I do prefer others this week.
Sunday, Sept. 30
Zenyatta Stakes (5:30 p.m. ET): If you have a chance to reach a prize tier this weekend, Abel Tasman (#2) looks like a free square to get you over the hump. She is much the best in here and the race figures to be not much more than a glorified workout for her.
Miss Grillo Stakes (5:50 p.m. ET): I like Miss Technicality (#7) to win this race, but I don’t see a whole lot separating her from Newspaperofrecord (#6) or Dogtag (#9). It looks like a good betting race, but far from ideal for Stay Lucky.
John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (6 p.m. ET): Liam the Charmer (#6) made quite an impression as a first-time gelding in his last start, closing powerfully to win a Del Mar allowance race by a neck. I think this is his best distance and his favorite track.
Remington Park Oaks (8:36 p.m. ET): I expect She’s a Julie (#5) to be very tough here for Steve Asmussen, who has been downright dominant in his career as the perennial leading trainer at the Oklahoma City track. She ran second in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes in her most recent start, which followed a Grade 3 win in the Iowa Oaks.
Oklahoma Derby (9:06 p.m. ET): Two of the probable top betting choices in here, Lone Sailor (#5) and Combatant (#8), have not won in 11 and nine starts, respectively. I like the outside horse, First Mondays (#11), to spring an upset.
Mike’s Top 5 Stay Lucky Plays
(33 winners from 84 top plays in 2018)
1. Abel Tasman (Zenyatta Stakes)
2. Imperial Hint (Vosburgh Stakes)
3. Opry (With Anticipation Stakes)
4. She’s a Julie (Remington Park Oaks)
5. Mind Your Biscuits (Lukas Classic Stakes)