Stay Lucky Picks: Summer Racing Sizzles at Saratoga

New York racing shifts to Saratoga Race Course this weekend as summer racing swings into gear. (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?

Get the iOS version of the app here.

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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, Saratoga Race Course will host five graded stakes races, including four Stay Lucky races, and Arlington International Racecourse will offer three on a loaded Stay Lucky slate.

Thursday, July 11

Schuylerville Stakes (5:15 p.m. ET): Tough start to the weekend with a Grade 3 race for 2-year-old fillies and six of the nine coming off a career-debut, open-length victory. You could go in several directions, but I took Kiss the Girl (#9) hoping she might be at or near her 6-1 price on the morning line. This is definitely not a race I’d target for Stay Lucky.

Quick Call Stakes (5:51 p.m. ET): I landed on Listing (#4) who seems to have found his calling sprinting on the grass. The race is wide open, though, with a several nice, speedy 3-year-olds making the switch from the main track to grass.

Friday, July 12

Forbidden Apple Stakes (5:51 p.m. ET): I struck out on the first two days at Saratoga for a Stay Lucky pick because I honestly would not be surprised if any of the 10 horses entered won the race. I give Qurbaan (#8) a slight edge cutting back to a mile. I think the 1 ¼-mile, Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes was just too long for him and he’ll be back to his best at this distance.

Saturday, July 13

Ontario Matron Stakes (4:50 p.m. ET): Pamina’s (#10) only previous start on a synthetic surface was a troubled fifth last year on this main track in a Grade 3 race. She trains on the Tapeta Footings surface regularly at Michael Dickinson’s farm and enters off a win in her first start of the year June 4 on grass at Delaware Park. I’m hoping she might be a nice price for betting purposes, too.

Modesty Handicap (5:12 p.m. ET): This one looks like a coin-flip race between Juliet Foxtrot (#2) and Simply Breathless (#3), both unbeaten in two starts since shipping to the U.S. from Europe. It’s close, but I’m leaning toward Juddmonte homebred Juliet Foxtrot, but not as a Stay Lucky play.

Delaware Handicap (5:25 p.m. ET): Elate (#7) won this race by 3 ¼ lengths last year and I think she’ll get the job done again coming off a clear victory in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap on June 15. She faces a better group this year in the Del 'Cap, including the runner-up, Blue Prize (#7), from the Fleur de Lis. Blue Prize is a Grade 1 winner making her third start off a long layoff and is dangerous at her best. Similarly, Escape Clause (#3) ran second in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap in April and also looms a threat, but I do think Elate prevails here.

Arlington Handicap (5:46 p.m. ET): I landed on a horse I think could be a nice upset play in The Great Day (#7). I thought his U.S. debut was sneakily very good and he was a multiple Group 1 winner in Argentina. He should improve in his second start off the layoff.

Diana Stakes (5:46 p.m. ET): Although the Diana drew only six entrants, there is some power packed into the small field. Chad Brown trains four of the entrants, including 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner and champion turf female Sistercharlie (#4) and 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Fillies winner Rushing Fall (#2). Sistercharlie has not raced in eight months since the Breeders’ Cup, while Rushing Fall has two Grade 1 wins in as many starts. Add in Brown’s recent Grade 2 New York Stakes winner Homerique (#6) and Grade 3 winner Mitchell Road (#3) riding a four-race winning streak for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, and it’s a fun race. Rushing Fall has been terrific this year, but it’s really hard to go against Sistercharlie. She’s the pick.

American Derby (6:19 p.m. ET): Flying Scotsman (#11) is the play here as he looks like he has by far the highest upside in the field, but I am worried about making him a Stay Lucky play in his first start since Nov. 25, 2018. If he’s fit and ready, I think he wins, but his connections probably would prefer him to be in peak form for the Grade 1, $500,000 Secretariat Stakes here in four weeks.

Indiana Oaks (9:10 p.m. ET): Street Band (#5) has not raced since a sixth-place finish after a terrible trip in the Longines Kentucky Oaks on May 3. I give her a slight edge here but consistency has never been her calling card, so I’d pass on the race for Stay Lucky purposes where the idea is to identify slam-dunk winners.

Indiana Derby (10:02 p.m. ET): The Indiana Derby drew three horses who competed in at least one Triple Crown race and five others who were on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier this year. My pick comes from the second group: Mr. Money (#11). He figures to be a heavy, heavy favorite coming off back-to-back graded stakes wins by a combined margin of 11 ¾ lengths. He’s a top play.

Sunday, July 14

Vigil Stakes (4:55 p.m. ET): Pink Lloyd (#1) had his 11-race winning streak halted last July in the Shepperton Stakes but he got back on track in the 2018 Vigil Stakes. He will try to win this race for the third straight year Sunday and looks like a strong favorite after opening 2019 with back-to-back stakes wins on this track at this three-quarter-mile distance.

Mike’s Top 2 Stay Lucky Plays

(7 winners from 12 top plays in 2019)

1. Mr. Money (Indiana Derby)

2. Elate (Delaware Handicap)

3. Pink Lloyd (Vigil Stakes)

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