Stay Lucky Picks: Monster Kentucky Derby Weekend in September

Mitole, above, won on Kentucky Derby weekend in 2019 during a championship campaign. (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 Television schedule

Friday, Sept.4: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. ET on FS2; 3-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, Sept. 5: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET on FS1; 2-4 p.m. ET on FS2; 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET on NBC; 4-6:30 p.m. ET on FS1; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Sept. 6: 12:30-4:30 p.m. ET on FS2; 4:30-6 p.m. ET on FS1; 6-7 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Monday, Sept. 7: 12-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; 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 a pair of action-packed cards at Churchill Downs for the Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday, Sept. 4, and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on Saturday, Sept. 5. 

The Derby and Oaks anchor eight hours of live broadcasts from NBC Sports on Sept. 4 and 5. On Friday, NBCSN will show the Kentucky Oaks and other stakes races from Churchill Downs on a three-hour show from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Post time for the 146th Longines Kentucky Oaks is 5:45 p.m. ET. NBCSN will also present four encore showings of "Born to Run," a one-hour documentary on 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, airing on Sept. 3, Sept. 4, and Sept. 5.

On Saturday, NBC will air five hours of coverage from Churchill Downs including six other stakes races and culminating with the 146th run for the roses. The broadcast runs from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET and will be hosted remotely by Mike Tirico, with analysis from Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey and handicapping insight from Eddie Olczyk. Reporters Donna Brothers, Britney Eurton, Laffit Pincay III and Kenny Rice will be on-site at Churchill Downs along with race caller Larry Collmus. NBC Sports’ Rutledge Wood will host a virtual watch party from his home. Check the full horse racing schedule on TV/radio/live streaming here.

Thursday, Sept. 3

Pocahontas Stakes (5:58 p.m. ET): Crazy Beautiful (#6) has looked terrific in two starts and I would not begrudge anyone looking to play her in this race. I landed on a longshot here in American Grace (#3) at 10-1 on the morning line. Trainer Larry Jones is a master with fillies and I think he has a promising one here.

Friday, Sept. 4

Eight Belles Stakes presented by (3:05 p.m. ET): This one looks like a coin-flip race between 6-5 Mundaye Call (#1) and 7-5 Four Graces (#7). I give the latter a slight edge because she’s 2-for-2 on the main track at Churchill and proven against graded stakes competition. If either one of the two were to be scratched, the other would immediately become a top play, but for now there is little separating them.

Edgewood Stakes presented by Forcht Bank (3:40 p.m. ET): We’ve seen the last few weeks how tough quality turf races can be when it comes to Stay Lucky. It’s usually a steady gallop and sprint for home where traffic can be a deciding factor. That said, I love Sharing (#3) in this spot with impeccable credentials, tactical speed, and a win on this turf course.

Alysheba Stakes presented by Sentient Jet (4:15 p.m. ET): This looks like a solid trace with 7-5 By My Standards (#6) and 8-5 McKinzie (#2) capable of a big race as is Mr Freeze (#5), who is 2-for-3 on this main track with the best race of his career coming at Churchill. I’ll give the edge to By My Standards, but I wouldn’t risk a significant streak on him.

La Troienne Stakes presented by Oak Grove Racing and Gaming (4:50 p.m. ET): Monomoy Girl (#8) has won both of her starts in 2020 after a year and a half off. She’s the most talented filly in the field on a main track she absolutely loves. A top play.

Longines Kentucky Oaks (5:45 p.m. ET): I know there is a ton of buzz surrounding Gamine (#5), and on paper she’s the fastest 3-year-old filly in the race, but I’m suspect she wants to go 1 1/8 miles and her chief opposition Swiss Skydiver (#1) has no such distance limitations. I prefer Swiss Skydiver in this spot.

Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes presented by Sysco (6:20 p.m. ET): Fourteen runners entered for a turf sprint is a bad combination for Stay Lucky. Looking elsewhere for Stay Lucky. Diamond Oops (#1) at 8-1 and Just Might (#8) at 30-1 look intriguing for betting purposes.

Saturday, Sept. 5

Glens Falls Stakes (1:26 p.m. ET): My Sister Nat (#4) enters off a Grade 3 stakes win on this inner turf course at Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown, who wins at 26% with horses entering off a victory. She’s the lone graded stakes winner in the field and looks like a standout on paper.

Red Bank Stakes (2:40 p.m. ET): The Red Bank Stakes features the return of Analyze It (#1) after more than 22 months on the sidelines. He’s been working steadily since June 16 with 10 timed workouts for trainer Chad Brown, who wins at 33% with horses returning from a layoff of 180 days or more. But this is almost two years, and while his 2018 Breeders’ Cup Mile third-place finish gives him a distinct class advantage it would be tough to risk a major streak on him. I don’t have that to worry about, so I’ll go ahead and fire away.

American Turf Stakes presented by Smithfield (2:55 p.m. ET): If this race shapes up like I expect it to with a swifter pace than usual for a turf race around two turns, Field Pass (#4) would be the big beneficiary. Smooth Like Straight (#5) will be tough, but I prefer Field Pass coming from off the pace.

Pat Day Mile Stakes presented by LG and E and KU (3:35 p.m. ET): Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Cezanne (#1) will take a lot of money. He’s a talented colt, but I think he’s vulnerable and will be overbet.

Iroquois Stakes presented by Ford (4:07 p.m. ET): This looks like a really evenly matched group of lightly raced 2-year-olds. If I had to make a play, I’d try Therideofalifetime (#10) coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Saratoga Special Stakes.

Jim Dandy Stakes (4:21 p.m. ET): Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets runner-up Dr Post (#6) should be the heavy favorite coming off a third-place finish in the Haskell Stakes. With the Kentucky Derby the same day as the Jim Dandy, the race came up a little lighter than usual but I still don’t completely trust Dr Post. I’d play him if I didn’t have a major streak riding on it, but I definitely prefer other races this week with a ton of options on the slate.

Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (4:39 p.m. ET): Newspaperofrecord (#4) probably will be the overwhelming favorite, but this dedicated front-runner will face pressure up front and I think either Daddy Is a Legend (#2) or Beau Recall (#6) can spring the upset.

Prioress Stakes (4:57 p.m. ET): There are a number of exciting sprinters from this group of 3-year-old fillies, but none more so in my mind than Kimari (#1), who makes her return to the races after running second in her most recent start in a Group 1 race at Royal Ascot in June. Back on the main track, she faces a very solid group and while I’d rate her a solid pick this week, there are several others I think are even more formidable.

Vigil Stakes (5:10 p.m. ET): Pink Lloyd (#7) has won this race in each of the last three years and he’s also defeated many of the runners in this race, including few of them multiple times. Many of Pink Lloyd’s races are small fields because he scares away competition, but he’ll face eight solid challengers here, including accomplished turf runner Blind Ambition (#8) making his first start on the all-weather main track.

Derby City Distaff Stakes presented by Derby City Gaming (5:17 p.m. ET): There are a couple of big names in here that should take a big chunk of the betting money. I’m hoping to get a fair price on Ce Ce (#10), maybe drifting up to 7-2 or 4-1 from the 3-1 morning-line odds. Ce Ce should be able to stalk and finish on the cutback and I expect her to get a clean trip from the outside post.

Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes (5:50 p.m. ET): This is a tough race with several nice turf horses but none of the proven elite runners. There is a bit of pace in here, which could impact the pacesetters and pace pressers. I’d bet Rockemperor (#3) goes off as a heavy favorite, but Bowies Hero (#2) shipped east to Kentucky last fall and ran a monster race to win a Grade 1 at Keeneland. I think he runs another big here and the race should set up well for his powerful late rally. I also really like the 6-1 odds on the morning-line.

Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (7:01 p.m. ET): Tough to confidently endorse a horse in the Kentucky Derby, but this is no ordinary year and Tiz the Law (#17) has proved the best 3-year-old in the country. The post should not be an issue with the long run into the first turn and his chief opposition, Art Collector, was scratched with a minor foot malady. A confident pick.

John C. Mabee Stakes (8:30 p.m. ET): I’ll make Lady Prancealot (#2) a lukewarm selection at best in a race with no clear standout and nobody I’m especially excited about. I like the way jockey Umberto Rispoli is riding right now and Lady Prancealot boasts some significant back class.

Sunday, Sept. 6

Honorable Miss Handicap (5:45 p.m. ET): I’ve long been a fan of Come Dancing (#1), but she’s just hard to trust right now coming off four straight losses. I lean toward Blamed (#2) in this spot coming off a runner-up finish in a stakes on this main track at seven-eighths of a mile and cutting back in distance by a furlong. Of course, that probably means you should run to the bank to be Come Dancing.

Del Mar Derby (8:30 p.m. ET): Really interesting that this race drew three 3-year-old fillies to take on males. Considering none of the three won their most recent start, it tells me they don’t have a ton of respect for the 3-year-old male turf runners on the West Coast. I’ll take a shot on Pixelate (#4) shipping in from the Fair Hill Training Center for trainer Mike Stidham coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park. He’s finished in the top three in each of his last seven start all in stakes with a win and four seconds. He’s the most consistent of this group, he has tactical speed, and he finishes well.

Mike's Top 5 Stay Lucky Picks

(20 winners from 42 top plays in 2020)

1. Monomoy Girl (La Troienne Stakes presented by Oak Grove Racing and Gaming)

2. Sharing (Edgewood Stakes presented by Forcht Bank)

4. Pink Lloyd (Vigil Stakes)

4. Tiz the Law (Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve)

5. My Sister Nat (Glens Falls Stakes)

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