Stay Lucky Picks: Woodward Headlines Holiday Weekend


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

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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 the Woodward Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga and two graded stakes each at Del Mar and Saratoga that serve as prep races for the Breeders' Cup Future Stars Friday card on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs.

Saturday, Sept. 1

Violet Stakes (4:09 p.m. ET): This could be a nice spot to get in and get out if you have a nice streak riding into the week as Elysea’s World (#7) looks like a standout for trainer Chad Brown coming off a Grade 3 win at this track and distance on July 29.

Red Bank Stakes (5:09 p.m. ET): I expect Synchrony (#2) to be heavily bet in this race and for good reason off a win in the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes, but I really think Irish Strait (#3) has a big chance to turn the tables on him here. He won this race a year ago, it’s probably his ideal distance, and he was taken farther back than he likes after bumping at the start when third in the Oceanport.

Saranac Stakes (5:39 p.m. ET): I was really impressed with Raging Bull (#3) in his win Aug. 3 in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes on this turf course, where he caught Maraud (#9) right at the finish line. The rematch here is interesting as they look like the clear top two in this race, but I’ll play Raging Bull to win again.

Spinaway Stakes (6:13 p.m. ET): Catherinethegreat (#4) dazzled in winning the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes on this track and should be able to carry her speed an extra eighth of a mile, but my big concern is California shipper Chasing Yesterday (#7), the half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith. Tough to separate the two probable favorites.

Woodward Stakes (6:47 p.m. ET): This race is an inscrutable mess from a handicapping perspective with a full field of 14 and no real standout. I liked Kurilov’s (#7) return to dirt when second in his most recent start and he’s got the Saratoga meet’s top trainer and second-leading jockey. I wouldn’t hang a Stay Lucky streak on him, but I’ll probably wager a couple of shekels on him.

Glens Falls Stakes (7:17 p.m. ET): In most of the turf graded stakes this meet at Saratoga, especially the ones for females, Chad Brown has had two or three of the most talented and/or accomplished runners. That is the case in this race as Brown will send out Onthemoonagain (#3), Santa Monica (#5), and Homeland Security (#6). Godolphin Racing’s Lady Montdore (#8) also is interesting in her second start in North America, but I lean pretty strongly toward Santa Monica.

John C. Mabee Stakes (9:30 p.m. ET): Cambodia (#7) looked like she was back in peak condition when winning the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Stakes on Aug. 4 and she loves the turf at Del Mar (3-for-5). A top play.

Sunday, Sept. 2

Prioress Stakes (5:38 p.m. ET): This race looks like easy pickings on paper with unbeaten Dream Tree (#8) shipping into Saratoga for the Hall of Fame jockey-trainer tandem of Bob Baffert and Mike Smith. She does look like the most likely winner, but she has not raced since February because of an injury and a lot can change in six months as other fillies have had time to develop and mature and there are a few in here who look like they have a real shot. Dream Pauline (#5) is 2-for-2 and stepping up here, but she a regally bred daughter of Tapit out of blazing-fast Grade 1 winner Dream Rush. Moonshine Memories (#7) is a multiple Grade 1 winner who recently returned to sprinting and enters off posting a career-best Equibase Speed Figure. I’ll tread lightly here.

Super Derby (7:05 p.m. ET): Lone Sailor (#3), winless in his last 10 races, was tabbed the 7-5 morning-line favorite. He does boast an edge when viewed through the lens of quality of recent competition, but it would take some intestinal fortitude to risk a streak on a horse who just does not seem to win. I can’t do it.

Del Mar Derby (8:30 p.m. ET): River Boyne (#3) won his last two races, both stakes, impressively and enters off a win on this turf course on Aug. 5. He has a great shot here to make it three straight, but I do think he’s facing some talented new shooters in here. Pubilius Syrus (#6) has won three of his last four and Ride a Comet (#8) had won two straight before running third on soft ground in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3. I still like River Boyne as a top play, but he’s the third of my three plays this week.

Monday, Sept. 3

NOTE: Monday Races Count for Following Week

Bernard Baruch Handicap (5:02 p.m. ET): I’m all in on Voodoo Song (#1) here. I didn’t list him as a top pick because he will count for the following week, but if you have a streak intact on Sunday and you want an easy win for next week, take Voodoo Song on Monday.

Hopeful Stakes (5:38 p.m. ET): All aboard the Mucho (#7) train … I have my ticket and I’m going to ride this future star to a win in the Hopeful on Monday. He also would be a top play if it counted for the current week, but instead I’ll double down at Saratoga on Monday.

Greenwood Cup Stakes (4:04 p.m. ET): This 1 ½-mile race features the top three finishers in a recent 1 ¾-mile stakes at Saratoga – Big Dollar Bill (#2), Hard Study (#6), and Archanova (#4). That race only drew four starters, however, and I actually favor You’re to Blame (#3), who enters off of a sharp win in a 1 1/8-mile allowance optional claiming race at Saratoga and prefers to race close to the lead. War Story (#1) and Hawaakom (#5) are two others with a shot here, however, which makes this a tough race to use for Stay Lucky. –Patrick Reed

Turf Monster Handicap (4:31 p.m. ET): This 5 ½-furlong turf sprint is typically tough to handicap, featuring last year’s winner Pure Sensation (#1) – who is 4-for-5 on Parx’s turf course – and classy Rainbow Heir (#6), who was a close fourth in last year’s Turf Monster and is coming back off of a six-month layoff for Jason Servis. There are some others with a chance in here, as well, and I’ll look elsewhere for a Stay Lucky recommendation. –Patrick Reed

Del Mar Futurity (9 p.m. ET): Roadster (#3) is one of the two 2-year-olds that so impressed Kentucky Derby 2019 watchers, they’ve already made Las Vegas future bets on him. The other SoCal buzz horse, Instagrand, is skipping the Del Mar Futurity, but there are still some other intriguing juveniles entered, such as the second Bob Baffert-trained starter, Game Winner (#7). If you believe the hype is real, then Roadster’s a Stay Lucky cinch choice. I’m inclined to just watch this one. –Patrick Reed

Mike’s Top 3 Stay Lucky Plays

(31 winners from 76 top plays in 2018)

1. Elysea’s World (Violet Stakes)

2. Cambodia (John C. Mabee Stakes)

3. River Boyne (Del Mar Derby)


1. Voodoo Song (Bernard Baruch Handicap)

2. Mucho (Hopeful Stakes)

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