Stay Lucky Picks: Breeders' Cup Prep Bonanza at Belmont, Santa Anita

Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

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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’s loaded Stay Lucky schedule is highlighted by seven Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1-2. Two are at Belmont Park, and five are at Santa Anita, beginning with a pair on that track’s opening Friday Sept. 27 card. Television coverage of these Breeders' Cup preps and the other stakes varies; for a complete schedule, click here.

Friday, Sept. 27

Chandelier Stakes (6 p.m. ET): This looks like a great spot to kick off the weekend with Bast (#4) a strong favorite coming off an 8 ¾-length runaway win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. She looks like a standout in the six-horse field.

Eddie D Stakes (6:30 p.m. ET): The Eddie D features a rematch of the top three from the Grade 3 Green Flash Handicap on Aug. 17 at Del Mar. I think five furlongs on this turf course is ideal for Green Flash runner-up Eddie Haskell (#1), but it’s too close for comfort for Stay Lucky purposes.

American Pharoah Stakes (7:30 p.m. ET): Eight Rings (#3) unseated his jockey at the start of the Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity as the 1-2 favorite, and he’s been a buzz horse all summer. However, you can make a case for several others in here –  American Theorem (#1), Express Train (#4), and Del Mar Futurity winner Nucky (#8) – and Eight Rings undoubtedly caused his own trouble and missed out on some much-needed experience. Perhaps Eight Rings is a budding star, but I would be cautious about risking a big streak on him.

Saturday, Sept. 28

Vosburgh Stakes (2:35 p.m. ET): If Imperial Hint (#4) runs back to the race he ran in a record-setting performance in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, everyone else is running for second. Even if he takes a small step back he’s fast enough to win this race. A top play this week.

Beldame Stakes (4:43 p.m. ET): Midnight Bisou (#1) is 2-for-2 at Belmont Park and unbeaten in six starts this year, including three Grade 1 wins. Regular rider Mike Smith is staying on the West Coast to ride Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite McKinzie, but Hall of Famer John Velazquez is a more than capable replacement.

Pilgrim Stakes (5:16 p.m. ET): I’ll pass on this race for Stay Lucky purposes. Two-year-olds can be somewhat volatile and it looks like a fairly wide-open race. I landed on Chad Brown’s Structor (#7) who won a maiden race Aug. 31 at Saratoga with a blistering final quarter-mile in 22.34 seconds according to Trakus data.

Ontario Derby (5:26 p.m. ET): Queen’s Plate runner-up Avie’s Flatter (#1) versus multiple Grade 3 winner Global Access (#3) figures to be a nice showdown, but I’m not sure it’s a two-horse race. Jungle Fighter (#2) enters off a nice win on grass while Solidify (#4) ships in for Graham Motion and is 2-for-2 on the main track at Woodbine. I’ll play Global Access at the betting window but pass on this race for Stay Lucky purposes.

John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (6:30 p.m. ET): Acclimate (#8) figures to be tough here as he’s got a ton of stamina and looks like he could be the lone speed. I like United’s (#5) chances to upset him for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, but I’ll play him at the betting window for the right price – not for Stay Lucky.

Ballerina Stakes (7:10 p.m. ET): Regular readers of this blog know that I prefer to pass on racetracks that I don’t follow on a daily basis and Hastings certainly qualifies. That said, I think Here’s Hannah (#3) is a solid play. She had her seven-race winning streak snapped in her most recent start by fellow Ballerina entrant Bear (#5), but she’s won 11 of 13 starts overall and is as consistent as they come. I expect a return to the winner’s circle.

Rodeo Drive Stakes (7:30 p.m. ET): With four wins and two seconds in her last six races, Beau Recall (#2) looks like a worthy favorite in this race, but I don’t think this is her favorite turf course and I think she could be vulnerable. I’ll try to beat her with Elysea’s World (#3), who has run several monster races on the turf at Santa Anita turned in a bullet workout in preparation for this race on Sept. 21. She gets a new rider in Flavien Prat, who clicks at 27% when teaming up with trainer Richard Baltas.

Awesome Again Stakes (8 p.m. ET): It’s tough to look past McKinzie (#4) here. He’s just the cream of the crop in the Breeders’ Cup Classic division this year, and I think he beat a better group last time out in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes. I’ll play him confidently.

Ack Ack Stakes  (9:05 p.m. ET): Air Strike (#2) looks like the class of the field coming out of a pair of Grade 1 races –  both fourth-place finishes – but he’s 0-for-2 at Churchill Downs and 1-for-4 at a mile, plus he’s giving four to seven pounds to the opposition. Pass.

Lukas Classic Stakes (10:11 p.m. ET): While I expect Quip (#4) to bounce back from a poor effort in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes, I actually like Silver Dust’s (#9) chances just a little bit more coming off two strong races and with what looks to be an ideal, stalking running style. It’s a tough race for Stay Lucky purposes with an evenly matched group.

Sunday, Sept. 29

Miss Grillo Stakes (4:43 p.m. ET): Any one of the eight 2-year-old fillies could step up here with a breakout performance. Chad Brown has won three straight editions of the Miss Grillo and six of the last seven. His two entrants Jazzique (#2) and Selflessly (#8) closed from way back to run one-two, respectively in a maiden race Aug. 28 at Saratoga. Jazzique won by a half-length but both ran a little green in the stretch and I think with a better trip Selflessly can win the rematch.

Zenyatta Stakes (5:30 p.m. ET): Secret Spice (#1), Paradise Woods (#3), and La Force (#5) all posted their career best Equibase Speed Figure on the main track at Santa Anita and are capable of big efforts. Secret Spice carries the best form of the three into the race and Ollie’s Candy (#4) enters off a win over her in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar July 28 in what was only her second try on dirt. Paradise Woods is capable of an occasional freakish performance, but I view this rematch between Ollie’s Candy and Secret Spice as pretty much a coin flip, so I’ll pass for Stay Lucky.

Oklahoma Derby (9:24 p.m. ET): Four runners coming out of the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers Stakes will ship to Remington Park for the Oklahoma Derby: third-place finisher Mucho Gusto (#10), fifth-place finisher Owendale (#11), seventh-place finisher Tax (#5), and eighth-place finisher Chess Chief (#7). Mucho Gusto has run second in the TVG Haskell Invitational and third in the Travers in his two most recent starts. Owendale won the Grade 3 Ohio Derby two starts ago, right after running third in the Preakness Stakes, while Tax ran fourth in the Belmont Stakes before winning the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes in his prep for the Travers. Another to consider is Rebel Stakes winner Long Range Toddy (#9), who is 3-for-4 at Remington with a pair of stakes wins. I give a slight edge to Mucho Gusto in a race that came up unexpectedly strong.

(TBD p.m. ET): Analysis to come once entries become available.

(TBD p.m. ET): Analysis to come once entries become available.

Mike’s Top Stay Lucky Plays

(21 winners from 33 top plays in 2019)

1. Midnight Bisou (Beldame Stakes)

2. Imperial Hint (Vosburgh Stakes)

3. McKinzie (Awesome Again Stakes)

4. Bast (Chandelier Stakes)

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