Stay Lucky Picks: Key Trio of Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Fans enjoy a day at the races at Tampa Bay Downs. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

Welcome to the 2020 Stay Lucky season with 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 $400,000, Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs; and the $300,000, Grade 2 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct; and a stacked card at Santa Anita Park for the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap.

Saturday, March 7

Challenger Stakes (3:55 p.m. ET): This race came up a bit light. I typically prefer horses who have had success on this main track, which can be tricky for some runners. But in this case, I landed on Sandino Ruler (#6) making his first start in the U.S. for Ignacio Correas IV. He won four of five in his native Argentina and has been training well at Tampa Bay Downs.

Hillsborough Stakes (4:25 p.m. ET): I bet Altea (#12) at 10.60-1 in the Endeavour Stakes and she came up a neck short of fellow Hillsborough Stakes entrant Jehozacat (#10). With a couple of other runners who possess early speed, I think Altea can turn the tables here in a deep, 12-horse field.

Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (4:30 p.m. ET): Got Stormy (#3) has run very well in her two starts in Southern California, finishing second in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita and winning the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar last fall. She tackles males again and faces a strong group here, but I think she’s up to the task.

Tom Fool Handicap (4:46 p.m. ET): Mind Control (#4) and Happy Farm (#5) both enter the race in terrific form, have run well on this main track, and look to be a cut above the rest. It feels like a coin-flip race that could be a great opportunity should one of the two be scratched. Otherwise, I’ll steer clear.

Florida Oaks (4:55 p.m. ET): This looks like a wide-open race that is not ideal for Stay Lucky purposes but should be fun for betting. I like New York Groove (#2) making her first start on the grass in this spot for a trainer in Mike Trombetta who clicks at 24% first-time turf.

Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (5:32 p.m. ET): Sole Volante (#7) figures to be the heavy favorite here and I expect Chance It (#4) to take a lot of money, too, but I landed on Market Analysis (#5) stretching out for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won this race five times.

Gotham Stakes (5:42 p.m. ET): Mischevious Alex (#6) enters this one-turn race off back-to-back runaway victories, most recently winning the Grade 3 Swale Stakes Feb. 1 at Gulfstream Park by seven lengths. I was blown away by that performance and I think he wins this with a nice trip from just off the pace.

San Felipe Stakes (6 p.m. ET): I’ve been a big fan of Authentic (#4) since his debut and, while I believe stablemate Thousand Words (#5) and Honor A. P. (#2) pose serious threats, I believe we see a special performance from Authentic in this spot.

Honeybee Stakes (6:09 p.m. ET): Ring Leader (#4) is 2-for-2 at Oaklawn and has been training exceptionally well for this race. I think she’ll handle stretching out from a sprint to a 1 1/16-mile race and her tactical speed should be a huge asset in a race with little pace.

Santa Anita Handicap (7 p.m. ET): Gift Box (#4) has been very carefully managed throughout his career but you can’t knock the results. If he’s on his game, and he’s been very consistent for more than two years, he seems like a clear standout in an edition of the Big ’Cap that came up pretty light on overall talent.

Sunday, March 8

Santa Ysabel Stakes (7:11 p.m. ET): Donna Veloce (#1) will be a popular play this week, but I like an upset play in the race and I’ll try to beat her with Storie Blue (#7) from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. I think she starting to figure things out and we could see a breakout race from her.

Mike’s Top Five Stay Lucky Picks

(0 winners from 3 top plays in 2020)

1. Mischevious Alex (Gotham Stakes )

2. Gift Box (Santa Anita Handicap)

3. Authentic (San Felipe Stakes )

4. Ring Leader (Honeybee Stakes)

5. Got Stormy (Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes)

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