Stay Lucky Picks: Key Breeders’ Cup Preps at Churchill, Woodbine

Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

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’s Stay Lucky slate is highlighted by a pair of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races at Churchill Downs on Saturday, plus one Challenge Series race at Woodbine Saturday and two more on Sunday.

Thursday, Aug. 12

Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes (5:25 p.m. ET): Archidust (#1) is the 2-1 morning-line favorite, but I’m inclined to play against the favorite in this spot. His three turf races, all wins, have come at 5 ½ furlongs and his speed figures are nothing special. I’ll try to beat him with The Last Zip (#4), who also has tactical speed and is cutting back in distance here.

Saturday, Aug. 14

Bold Venture Stakes (2:14 p.m. ET): Last year in this race, Yorkton (#7) upset 1.15-to-1 favorite Pink Lloyd (#2). The Bold Venture will feature a rematch this year, but Yorkton has not won in five starts since last year’s edition while Pink Lloyd rides a five-race winning streak into the race. It’s rare that you find one horse conceding from eight to 10 pounds to his opponents in a race that is a stakes not a handicap, but Pink Lloyd will need to overcome that obstacle in the Bold Venture and it is not a minor one. While Pink Lloyd is 21-for-26 on the synthetic main track at Woodbine, his best distance clearly is six furlongs and he’ll stretch out an extra sixteenth of a mile here — he’s 2-for-4 at 6 ½ furlongs — while conceding a ton of weight. He’s still the pick for Stay Lucky, but for betting purposes I’d play against him.

Locust Grove Stakes (4:21 p.m. ET): Mylady Curlin (#3) has won five straight, including three straight stakes victories, and figures to be the favorite here, but I think she could be somewhat vulnerable in this spot as she’s only making her second start in a graded stakes and has never run a truly fast race. I’ll try to beat her with Go Google Yourself (#7), who has finished ahead of Mylady Curlin on several occasions and enters off a dominant win.

Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association (4:30 p.m. ET): Starship Jubilee (#3) will try for a repeat in the Canadian and she’s a consistent, game 6-year-old mare who could be up to the challenge. I landed on European invader Magnetic Charm (#3), who gets a nice weight break as a 3-year-old filly facing older female and has run well in each of her seven starts to date while racing for Queen Elizabeth II.

Pocahontas Stakes (4:53 p.m. ET): This looks like an evenly matched group of 2-year-old fillies, a division that is probably my weakest when it comes to handicapping. It’s a pass for me for Stay Lucky purposes, but I do like the fact that Morning Gold (#6) has a win around two turns and I think she has the pedigree to make the switch from turf to dirt. Depending on her odds, I’ll probably take a shot with Morning Gold at the betting window.

Iroquois Stakes (5:26 p.m. ET): Rowdy Yates (#4) and Scabbard (#3) have shown ability in stakes competition, both graded stakes-placed and the former also a stakes winner, and will face off against multiple runaway maiden or allowance winners. The one that caught my eye was Dennis’ Moment (#8) coming off a 19 ¼-length romp at Ellis Park. He’s trained exceptionally well since that win for Albaugh Family Stables and he’s named for the family’s patriarch, so it stands to reason they have pretty high expectations for the $400,000 Tiznow colt. He’s the play.

Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (5:42 p.m. ET): Got Stormy (#5) appears to be a formidable favorite coming in off a monster race. I’m a little worried that she might react negatively after setting a course record in what was her second start in a week when winning the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap Aug. 10. I think this could be an ideal spot for Raging Bull (#7), the Fourstardave runner-up who also is a Grade 1 winner and should be a nice price. I’d pass on the race for Stay Lucky purposes if I had a solid streak, but it's worth a flyer if you’re trying to rebuild.

Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (6:17 p.m. ET): On paper, this year’s Longines Dubai Sheema Classic Stakes winner Old Persian (#1) looks like a standout in the Northern Dancer and I think he’s primed for a top effort off a solid third-place finish in a German Group 1 that came on the heels of a three-month layoff. He should improve in his second start after the break and he’s the class of the field.

Sunday, Aug. 15

Summer Stakes (4:43 p.m. ET): This race has a couple of European runners making their U.S. debuts, a pair of impressive debut winners, two more juveniles coming off victories on synthetic surfaces, and multiple horses with stakes experience. Keep On Truckin (#5) is the lone stakes winner in the field and has won his two starts by a combined margin of 19 ½ lengths. He looks like he could be a rising star, however, he is making his first start on grass in this race and thus is a bit of a wild card. I like his chances but I wouldn't risk a big streak on a 2-year-old being asked to do something for the first time.

Natalma Stakes (5:49 p.m. ET): The three first-time starters from Europe are very interesting, especially Walk In Marrakesh (#1) with three wins, a second, and one third in five races for trainer Mark Johnston. Fair Maiden (#3) enters off a dominant 7 ½-length win in the Catch a Glimpse Stakes and looks like the most likely favorite, but I landed on Coach Lori (#6) off an impressive debut win in which she rallied powerfully to prevail by a neck.

Monday, Aug. 16

Presque Isle Downs Masters (7:35 p.m. ET): Hotshot Anna (#10) is in terrific form and seems to really like synthetic surfaces with a 4-for-6 record on them. Her last three starts on the synthetic surface at Presque Isle have been open-length wins.

Mike’s Top Stay Lucky Plays

(19 winners from 30 top plays in 2019)

1. Dennis’ Moment (Iroquois Stakes)

2. Old Persian (Northern Dancer Turf Stakes)

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