Stay Lucky Picks: Terrific Travers Card, Pair of Sunday Stakes


Welcome to the 2018 Stay Lucky season! You will notice new prizes and smoother performance for the new season, along with presenting sponsor Equestricon!

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve downloaded the app and are ready to start picking winners. If you have not yet downloaded Stay Lucky, what are you waiting for?

Get the iOS version of the app here.

The Android version of the app on Google Play can be downloaded here.

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 the 149thRunhappy Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, a $1.25 million race that headlines a terrific Saratoga card featuring six Grade 1 races.

Saturday, Aug. 25

H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes Presented by Runhappy (2:23 p.m. ET): Promises Fulfilled (#1) ran one of the best races of his life on this track in July and should be formidable here, especially if he’s allowed to dictate the pace.

Personal Ensign Stakes (2:59 p.m. ET): This looks like a coin-flip race to me between champion Abel Tasman (#1) and multiple Grade 1 winner Elate (#6), who were separated by only a head when running one-two in last year’s Coaching Club American Oaks at this track and distance. Elate had a troubled trip that day and I think she’s the better horse, but it probably is Abel Tasman’s best distance. Really difficult to separate the two.

Ketel One Ballerina Stakes (3:35 p.m. ET): I had trouble separating Finley’sluckycharm (#5), Lewis Bay (#6), and Marley’s Freedom (#7). Finley’sluckycharm enters off a career-best win on this racetrack at what might be her best distance. Lewis Bay regained her top form in her most recent start and has leading Saratoga rider Irad Ortiz Jr. Marley’s Freedom has won three straight by open lengths for Hall of Famers Bob Baffert and Mike Smith. I’m looking elsewhere for Stay Lucky.

Forego Stakes (4:12 p.m. ET): I really like City of Light (#8) in this spot cutting back in distance after running third in the 1 ¼-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May. He runs well fresh and I think this will wind up as his best distance. This is no cakewalk though. Both Limousine Liberal (#1) and Warrior’s Club (#7) are terrific at seven-eighths of a mile and I think this might be Warrior’s Club’s favorite surface. I’m also high on C Z Rocket (#6) and deep closer Whitmore (#3) should be right there if the pace is at least honest.

Smarty Jones Stakes (4:18 p.m.ET): Flameaway (#7) is a consistent and tough 3-year-old. He gets a bit of class relief here and should be able to control the pace.

Sword Dancer Stakes (4:49 p.m. ET): Another really fun handicapping race from Saturday’s loaded card at Saratoga. I landed on Sadler’s Joy (#10). I don’t love the outside post, but I think he’s sitting on a monster race at his best distance on a turf course he really likes.

Play the King Stakes (5 p.m. ET): A Group 2 winner in France, La Sardane (#1) has won three straight in the U.S., including back-to-back stakes wins, and appears to be the class of this field. Woodbine’s turf course can be a bit tricky – I’d feel better if she had a win on the grass at Woodbine – but it is more of a European style so it seems like it should be a good fit.

Runhappy Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (5:44 p.m. ET): It’s fair to suggest that Good Magic (#9) is the best 3-year-old male in training in the U.S. with the retirement of Triple Crown winner Justify and I respect the 2017 champion 2-year-old male. But I don’t think there is a whole lot separating him from the rest of this group and I think he’s a pass for Stay Lucky purposes.

Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes (6:20 p.m. ET): If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know I’m a big believer in A Raving Beauty (#1). I thought she was very unlucky in her most recent start when third by less than a length to stablemate Sistercharlie, who came back and won the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes. I view her as a clear standout in this race and she’s my top play this week.

Pat O'Brien Stakes (8 p.m. ET): The first horse I saw was Catalina Cruiser (#1) and I thought I’d found my top play, then I saw 2017 champion sprinter Roy H (#4), the horse who beat Roy H last out in Ransom the Moon (#5), and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway (#8), who posted a 133 Equibase Speed Figure on this track last November. Um, pass.

Canadian Derby (8:55 p.m. ET): I just don’t know the circuit well enough to make any of the runners a top play. I looked over the past performances a few times and nobody jumped out at me at an Edmonton track that I’ve only watched a handful of times in my life.

Sunday, Aug. 26

Seaway Stakes (5:54 p.m. ET): Code Warrior (#9) is a much better runner on the synthetic and I think she could find herself alone on the lead here, so I like her to pull a mild upset as the 6-1 fourth choice on the morning line. The two favorites both are very good, but they are not world beaters by any stretch.

Torrey Pines Stakes (9 p.m. ET): This is an interesting race that drew a field of 11 with two of the top three choices on the morning line up-and-comers just beginning to find their best form and the other a graded stakes veteran who ran third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in Thirteen Squared (#2). If I had to pick one I’d lean toward the proven graded stakes foundation of Thirteen Squared, but for betting purposes I’ll be trying to beat her and I’ll steer clear in Stay Lucky.

Mike’s Top 3 Stay Lucky Plays

(31 winners from 73 top plays in 2018)

1. A Raving Beauty (Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes)

2. La Sardane (Play the King Stakes)

3. Flameaway (Smarty Jones Stakes)

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