Stay Lucky Picks: Terrific Options on Whitney Stakes Weekend

Fans enjoy a day at the races at Saratoga Race Course during the 2019 meet. (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.

The Android version of the app on Google Play can be downloaded here.

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 the $1 million, Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, which figures to be a key race in determining top contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in November. NBC Sports will broadcast the Whitney on Saturday as the showcase of an hour-long show from Saratoga that will also include a live broadcast of the Longines Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The show will air on NBCSN, running from 5-6 p.m. ET.

Friday, Aug. 2

National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (4:39 p.m. ET): I loved the way Casa Creed (#5) finished in his most recent start when third in the July 4 Manila Stakes. According to Trakus data, he completed the final quarter-mile in 22.92 seconds when third by a half-length. I can understand shying away from a horse who has lost five straight and I’m not going to make him a top Stay Lucky play, but I plan to bet him in this race and pick him in Stay Lucky because my streak is only at one.

Saturday, Aug. 3

Troy Stakes (3:21 p.m. ET): It’s tough to look past World of Trouble (#1) on a five-race winning streak with his only loss in his last eight starts a runner-up finish by a neck in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He’s also 3-for-4 at this distance and has a win on this turf course. The race did draw a quality field but World of Trouble is simply better than them right now. The only concern is that there is a good amount of speed to press World of Trouble early, but I still expect him to cruise to victory.

West Virginia Governor's Stakes (4:55 p.m. ET): With five horses listed at morning-line odds between 3-1 and 6-1, this looks like a wide-open race that’s probably not ideal for Stay Lucky purposes. I’m going to take a shot on Snapper Sinclair (#2) who could dictate the pace and get pretty brave late with only one other horse that figures to be an early threat.

Longines Test Stakes (5:06 p.m. ET): Skip this race if you have a significant Stay Lucky streak. Multiple Grade 1 winner Bellafina (#2) ships in from Southern California to take on Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress (#1). Add rising star Covfefe (#3) to the mix and unbeaten Royal Charlotte (#5) from the barn of Chad Brown and you’ve got a heck of a race, just not for Stay Lucky. I think the pace could be exceptionally hot and I think that could benefit Royal Charlotte; she’s the pick.

West Virginia Derby (5:35 p.m. ET): Mr. Money (#9) has won three straight by open lengths and looks like he’ll be an overwhelming favorite in this race. I’m making him a top Stay Lucky pick, but I do worry about Plus Que Parfait (#4) returning to the main track after a sneaky-good sixth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes. He’s capable of an upset.

Whitney Stakes (5:46 p.m. ET): I assume McKinzie (#6) will be a popular Stay Lucky pick this week and for good reason — he’s run first or second every race in his 11-start career except last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. I went in a different direction, however, and landed on Preservationist (#8) coming off a dominant 4 ½-length win in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens' patience has really paid dividends with this 6-year-old by Arch, who has twice come back from layoffs of 10 months or more. Preservationist has won three straight races and I love the way he’s coming into the race.

Sorrento Stakes (7 p.m. ET): Comical (#1) is the only filly in here with stakes experience having won the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes July 11 at Saratoga. She’s back on the West Coast for this race and looks to improve to 3-for-3. I typically avoid for Stay Lucky 2-year-old races like this one with four of the six coming off dominant maiden wins. It’s tough to predict how they’ll handle facing winners for the first time and often they are stretching out in distance for the first time. I thought Amalfi Sunrise (#3) looked like a serious racehorse in her debut. She’s my pick on top, but I’d be terrified to risk a significant streak on her.

Yellow Ribbon Handicap (8:30 p.m. ET): Vasilika (#4) has won four straight and 13 of her last 14 races, dominating the turf female division in Southern California. She enters off a Grade 1 win in the Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita May 27 and should be rested and ready. Her last defeat did come on this turf course in December 2018, but she’s 2-for-3 overall on the Del Mar turf and looks like a terrific Stay Lucky play this week.

Sunday, Aug. 4

Fasig-Tipton Waya Stakes (3:21 p.m. ET): Santa Monica (#4) is the even-money favorite for this race and one of two entrants for trainer Chad Brown, who is winning at a 24% clip at the meet. She’s won two straight in graded stakes as the heavy favorite against similar competition. I’m a little worried that she failed as the favorite at Saratoga last summer, and before her two most recent starts had lost four straight times when favored. She’s a solid Stay Lucky play, especially if you don’t have a big streak riding one it, but riskier than the top three picks this week.

Adirondack Stakes (6:23 p.m. ET): If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I usually skip 2-year-old filly races for Stay Lucky purposes. They are all learning the game and stretching out in distance and there are just too many variables unless the race looks like it has a slam-dunk superstar. There are several really nice fillies in here, but I think the two favorites, Frank’s Rockette (#2) and Magic Dance (#8) are pretty even on paper coming off nice wins at Churchill Downs. I’m also a fan of Perfect Alibi (#3) and I think she has a chance to win.

La Jolla Handicap (8 p.m. ET): Neptune’s Storm (#1) has won back-to-back stakes and Jasikan (#6) won the Oceanside Stakes with a powerful late rally on this turf course on opening day. I went a different way, however, and landed on Kingly (#2) trying turf for the first time for Bob Baffert. While Baffert is in the Hall of Fame almost entirely for his exploits as a trainer on dirt tracks, he’s won with 15% in the last year making the move from dirt to turf and Kingly is a stakes winner on a synthetic track. What I like most is the addition of blinkers. Kingly should be the controlling speed in this race with a short stretch at Del Mar, and Baffert has hit at 58% (7-for-12) when adding blinkers in the last year. I’m hoping for a nice price to cap the weekend.

Mike’s Top 3 Stay Lucky Plays

(13 winners from 19 top plays in 2019)

1. Vasilika (Yellow Ribbon Stakes)

2. World of Trouble (Troy Stakes)

3. Mr. Money (West Virginia Derby)

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