Stay Lucky Picks: Loaded Preakness Card, Fall Stars Weekend at Keeneland

Pimlico Race Course will host an action-packed weekend of racing headlined by the 145th edition of the Preakness Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)

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!

weekend TV schedule

Thursday, Oct. 1: 12:30-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, Oct. 2: 12:30-6 p.m.. ET on FS2; 4-6 p.m.. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Oct. 3: 12:30 p.m.-6 p.m. ET on FS2; 4:30-6 p.m.. ET on NBC; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Oct. 4: 9:30-11 a.m. ET on FS1; 12:30-6 p.m. ET on FS2; 4:30-6 p.m.. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

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 seven 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 headlined by the 145thPreakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, which in the rescheduled Triple Crown schedule will close out the trio of classic races for 2020. There will be no Triple Crown winner this year, but Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Authentic will be on hand to vie for a second classic win, matching up against a tough field led by Art Collector and Swiss Skydiver.

NBC will broadcast the Preakness Stakes on Oct. 3 during an hour-and-a-half show from 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET. The show will provide analysis of the race and features on Preakness contenders, plus on-site coverage from Pimlico where the race will be held without spectators due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This spectacular weekend of racing that also features the opening of Keeneland Race Course’s fall meet, which hosts a total of nine Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races from Friday to Sunday in preparation for the 37th World Championships at Keeneland on Nov. 6-7. This year, the Preakness is also a “Win and You’re In” race, offering the winner an automatic, fees-paid berth to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7.

Thursday, Oct. 1

Chick Lang Stakes (5:04 p.m. ET): I expect Yaupon (#9) to be a very popular pick this week and I would fire away on him if I didn’t have a streak of significance riding on it. I would, however, be wary of risking a big streak playing Yaupon with the talented Arkaan (#10) to his outside. They are similar type horses with early speed and I think Arkaan could be really dangerous cutting back from a decent third in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus Stakes, won by Preakness contender Pneumatic.

Friday, Oct. 2

Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (5:05 p.m. ET): This looks like a wide-open race to me, so I’m going to try for a price here and go with 12-1 Copper Town (#8). I think he can race just off the pace and get a jump on the closers at the top of the stretch. I also probably will use Shashashakemeup (#1) underneath to try to spice up a trifecta ticket.

Darley Alcibiades Stakes (5:40 p.m. ET): I would not play this race for Stay Lucky because it drew a solid group of seven 2-year-old fillies, who can be extremely unpredictable, especially when stretching out. But for betting purposes, I’ve been waiting for Gramercy (#6) to return (watch her debut here) after she won her first start by open lengths after dropping 10 lengths back on the synthetic main track at Arlington. I think she has star potential and her dam (mother) is a full sibling to 2005 champion 2-year-old filly Folklore.

Pimlico Special Stakes (6:23 p.m. ET): I expect Tenfold (#5) and Owendale (#8) probably vie for favoritism in this race, and I give the edge to the latter based on recent form. I also think he’s just the better racehorse, so I’ll make him a play this week.

Saturday, Oct. 3

Gallorette Stakes (11:35 a.m. ET): Based on consistency and recent form, I’ll try She’sonthewarpath (#3) in the Gallorette, expecting she will use her tactical speed to find a good early position and finish well. She has been very good in all five starts this year.

Miss Preakness Stakes (1:22 p.m. ET): I’d bypass this race for Stay Lucky purposes, but with three horses that seem to prefer to set or press the pace, I think the Miss Preakness could set up nicely for Wicked Whisper (#2), who looked more like the Grade 1 winner we saw last year most recently when second in the Grade 3  Charles Town Oaks following a couple of really poor races. I'm steering well clear for the contest, however.

Dinner Party Stakes (2:01 p.m. ET): Factor This (#7) is in terrific form, looks like the controlling speed, and has won four of nine at this distance. I think he looks like a very strong Stay Lucky play this week.

Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (2:42 p.m. ET): Tough race. I always give a little boost to the local horses in sprint races on Preakness weekend, but I landed on Admiral Lynch (#1), who has been consistently very good this year with a win, two second, and a third in four starts. I thought he was unlucky at Pimlico in May 2019 when he was beaten by only a neck when third here in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes. He earned a career-best Equibase Speed Figure in his most recent start in a quality allowance race at Saratoga.

Pilgrim Stakes (3:30 p.m. ET): I really liked Public Sector’s (#3) debut win Aug. 15 at Saratoga Race Course and trainer Chad Brown is terrific with 2-year-old turf runners, but it would be tough to risk a major streak on a horse coming off a debut win and stepping up to face stakes competition for the first time.

Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (3:45 p.m. ET): Fun betting race with nine turf sprinters and probably only one or two that would be a real shock if they reached the winner’s circle. The Keeneland turf course can be hit or miss with some horses, so I prefer to look for runners with success on the grass at the Lexington track. Leinster (#8) has two wins and a second in three starts on the Keeneland turf, and won the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes at this course/distance in July. He figures to be tough in this spot.

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (4:03 p.m. ET): This is another tough race, but I gave a slight edge to Cross Border (#5). He’s in very good form and I’m confident he’ll get the distance. German invader Laccario (#6) also interests me and I might place a few dollars on him to win if he’s overlooked in the betting, but I don’t expect that to happen.

Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (4:18 p.m. ET): Tough race with a ton of early speed. Not knowing how the main track will be playing makes these races tough, and the logical favorite, Sneaking Out (#1) disappointed in her last trip to Kentucky when unplaced in a Grade 3 at Churchill Downs. I’ll try to beat her here, but I’m going to let the toteboard guide me on who to play.

George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (4:41 p.m. ET): I don’t really know what to make of this field. It’s a pretty nice group of 3-year-old fillies and one of the better casts assembled for this race in recent year. I think the fact that it is four weeks after the Longines Kentucky Oaks really helped. Still, I couldn’t be confident enough in any of these 3-year-old fillies to endorse them as a Stay Lucky play. Bonny South (#5) probably gets sent off as a fairly heavy favorite, but I think I’d prefer to take a swing on a longshot like Miss Marissa (#8), one of the few in here with tactical speed and coming out of a win at Saratoga at 1 1/8 miles.

Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (5:06 p.m. ET): This race usually draws a nice contingent of European invaders, but they are absent from this year’s field. It’s a solid group of 3-year-old turf runners, but I think Gufo (#2) was a bit unlucky in the Saratoga Derby Invitational and could be the one to beat with a better trip here.

Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (5:24 p.m. ET): With the lone stakes winner in the field, Super Stock (#1), coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes and five runners coming off debut wins, there really is no 2-year-old you would play for Stay Lucky. Bet the race, sure. But definitely look elsewhere if you have any kind of streak on the line. As for betting the race, I lead toward King Fury (#9) since he has a win going around two turns and a nice turn of foot.

Preakness Stakes (5:36 p.m. ET): I’m on Art Collector (#3) here as I think he can rate just off a strong pace and outfinish a softened Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Authentic (#9). My longshot play is Excession (#1) closing into what should be a strong pace. Closers do surprisingly well in the Preakness, so I’ll use him underneath Art Collector and play a small win bet on him as well if he is 25-1 or higher (I’m hoping for he might drift up to 40-1).

Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (5:57 p.m. ET): You could make a case that this is the most evenly matched race of the day at Keeneland, and that’s no shock as the Shadwell Mile typically is a fantastic race with a big field full of accomplished runners. While that makes it a lousy option for Stay Lucky purposes, where you’re just looking for an easy winner, it does provide a fun puzzle for bettors. I’m going to box Halladay (#2), Without Parole (#3), and Parlor (#9) in an exacta and hope the second two are big prices.

City of Hope Mile Stakes (7 p.m. ET): Mo Forza (#7) looked terrific in his first start off a seven-month layoff when winning the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Handicap Aug. 23. He’s 3-for-5 at this distance and on the grass at Santa Anita, and he’s the class of the field. My top pick.

Sunday, Oct. 4

Miss Grillo Stakes (4:12 p.m. ET): I mention frequently in this blog that I find lightly raced fillies to be pretty unpredictable and generally avoid betting those races. I’m even less likely to play them for Stay Lucky, so I’ll pass this race. I will keep an eye on the odds and maybe place a win wager on Lovestruck (#1) if she stays at 7-2 or above or Batyah (#7) if she creeps up to 10-1 or above.

Bourbon Stakes (5:10 p.m. ET): Into the Sunrise (#4) enters this race off a game second by a neck to Gretzky the Great in the Soaring Free Stakes at Woodbine. Gretzky the Great subsequently won the Grade 1 Summer Stakes by 3 ¼ lengths to flatter Into the Sunrise, who is trained by Wesley Ward, a Keeneland-based trainer who really knows how to spot 2-year-olds (27% winning percentage). He’ll be tough in this spot.

Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational Stakes (5:20 p.m. ET): I landed on a price play in here as Grade 1 winner Fog of War (#7) has disappointed in recent starts, but I can’t pass up a 10-1 morning-line on a Chad Brown colt with some back class. He should improve in his second start off the long layoff. He was pretty rank in his last start, and cutting back to a sprint I think maybe they just let him run a little more early.

Mike's Top Stay Lucky Picks

(25 winners from 51 top plays in 2020)

1. Mo Forza (City of Hope Mile Stakes)

2. Factor This (Dinner Party Stakes)

3. Owendale (Pimlico Special Stakes)

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