Stay Lucky Picks: Coast-to-Coast Streak Builders

Turf racing takes center stage on United Nations Stakes day at Monmouth Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Welcome to the 2019 Stay Lucky season with new presenting sponsor Breeders' Cup! We have several exciting new prizes plus a smoother, faster app for the new season!

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?

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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, Stay Lucky graded stakes are scheduled all around the country, from top-level grass horses contesting the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park, to 3-year-olds squaring off in the Ohio Derby at Thistledown, to a couple of turf tests at Santa Anita Park.

Saturday, June 22

Eatontown Stakes (3:33 p.m. ET): Valedictorian (#1) turned in a subpar performance in her last race, a Grade 2 stakes at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day, but she's been training very well at Monmouth since then and is three-for-four at the Jersey Shore track. She should be the controlling speed in this 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 turf stakes against five opponents and is a solid Stay Lucky choice.

Philip H. Iselin Stakes (5 p.m. ET): This 1 1/16-mile race on dirt at Monmouth Park drew seven horses, and it’s an intriguing matchup. Runnin’toluvya (#3) and Diamond King (#5) finished 1-2 in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic back in April. Runnin’toluvya, a West-Virginia-bred gelding, is 13-for-17 lifetime but will be taking his talents to Monmouth, to paraphrase LeBron James, for the first time, while Diamond King has a race over this track since the Charles Town Classic. They figure to battle on the front end, and if the pace is fast enough, it could set things up for Bal Harbour (#1) or Monongahela (#7). I think that scenario will play out, but not enough to elevate one of the closers to a Stay Lucky selection.

Ohio Derby (5:10 p.m. ET): The 1 1/8-mile Ohio Derby features two graded stakes-winning 3-year-olds in Owendale (#2) and Long Range Toddy (#3) (Global Campaign [#4] will scratch from the race due to a minor foot injury, according to Daily Racing Form). Owendale was nosed out for second in the Preakness Stakes, and Long Range Toddy was among the first rank of horses behind Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve who were bothered when that pacesetter drifted out. Both are consistent, quality racehorses. I had favored Peter Pan Stakes winner Global Campaign in the Ohio Derby as my top Stay Lucky pick for this weekend, but now that the horse isn't running, it's basically a toss-up between Owendale and Long Range Toddy, with a slight edge to Owendale provided he saves more ground than he did in the Preakness. But I'll pass on this race for a Stay Lucky selection.

United Nations Stakes (5:28 p.m. ET): The turf maestro Chad Brown has two entered in this Grade 1, 1 3/8-mile race – Arrocha (#3) and Focus Group (#4) – but I prefer the two Mike Maker-trained contenders, Zulu Alpha (#6) and especially Bigger Picture (#1). Bigger Picture is in career-best form, having won two of his most recent three races, both graded stakes, he is three-for-nine in his career at this distance, and he has a good stalking running style in a field that has several deep closers. Plus, he ran a good third in last year’s renewal of the United Nations and gets the services of “Jersey” Joe Bravo on Saturday. He’s one of my Stay Lucky plays for this weekend.

Wilshire Stakes (7:30 p.m. ET): Eleven fillies and mares are lined up for this one-mile turf race, and it’s a tough one to draw a solid Stay Lucky pick from. Ollie’s Candy (#1) has back class and may have needed a race in his first 2019 start last month. Simply Breathless (#3) won his U.S. debut convincingly in a Golden Gate Fields stakes race back in April, specialized in this mile distance when racing in England, and has Santa Anita Park’s leading rider Flavien Prat aboard. But there are also several other contenders in here with legitimate chances to win, so I’m passing on this race for Stay Lucky purposes.

Sunday, June 23

American Stakes (6 p.m. ET): This one-mile turf race drew a competitive seven-horse field, led by multiple graded stakes winners Sharp Samurai (#2) and River Boyne (#6). Both are very good at Santa Anita Park (Sharp Samurai is five for seven, River Boyne is six-for-nine) and also at this distance. There are a couple of turf sprinters stretching out that have a chance, including Bombard (#5), who is making his first start since last July, but I think it boils down to the above pair and I am leaning toward Sharp Samurai as my win pick and Stay Lucky selection. He should improve making his second start of the year and also generally races closer to the lead than deep-closing River Boyne.

San Juan Capistrano Stakes (7:30 p.m. ET): Causeforcommotion (#6) is a 5-year-old mare facing males in this 1 ¾-mile marathon turf race, but she carries the best current form, having won a Grade 3 stakes two starts back by nine lengths. She’s also familiar with competing at distances up to a mile and a half (no starter in the San Juan Capistrano has ever raced a mile and three quarters before). She ran a decent fifth in a Grade 1 stakes against Southern California win machine Vasilika in her previous start and is my pick to win this race against a middling field, but not to build a Stay Lucky streak with.

Patrick’s Top Stay Lucky Plays

(2 winners from 3 top plays in 2018)

1. Bigger Picture (United Nations Stakes)

3. Valedictorian (Eatontown Stakes)

3. Sharp Samurai (American Stakes)

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