Stay Lucky Picks: Stephen Foster, Fleur de Lis Top Big Weekend

The start of the Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare in November 2019 at Churchill Downs, which was won by Tom’s d’Etat. (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!

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?

weekend TV schedule

Thursday, June 25: 1-6 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, June 26: 1-6 p.m. ET on FS2; 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, June 27: 1-3 p.m. ET on FS2; 3-6:30 p.m. ET on FS1; 5-6 p.m. ET on NBC; 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, June 28: 1-6 p.m. ET on FS2; 4-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

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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’s Stay Lucky slate is headlined by the Stephen Foster Stakes and the Fleur de Lis Handicap, both of which will be televised nationally during a broadcast Saturday from 5 - 6 p.m. ET on NBC

The Stephen Foster Stakes offers an expenses-paid berth to the Nov. 7 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic to the race winner, and the winner of the Fleur de Lis Handicap is granted a spot in the starting gate of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff on the same day during the 37th World Championships at Keeneland.

There also are four graded stakes at Belmont Park that qualify as Stay Lucky races. Live action from the Elmont, N.Y., track will be featured on the Fox Sports show "America’s Day at the Races," with the four graded stakes among the highlights of the 3- 6:30 p.m. telecast on FS1.

Saturday, June 27

Ohio Derby (4:22 p.m. ET): I don’t believe in any of the horses in this overflow field to endorse them with any conviction. If I had to pick one I’d go with South Bend (#10) coming back off the turf onto the main track. Not exactly a hearty endorsement, I know.

Vagrancy Handicap (4:32 p.m. ET): Come Dancing (#5) came up short in her season debut while stretching out in distance around two turns for the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap. She cuts back to a preferred sprint distance here and gets some class relief. She’s the class of the field at her best, loves this main track, and has been working lights out for this race. A top pick.

Nassau Stakes (4:42 p.m. ET): Malakeh (#6) has won three of her last four races for trainer Graham Motion, including her 2020 debut of a 9 ½-month layoff. She should be able to move forward off that race and profiles at the probable favorite, but I’m going in a different direction here with Elizabeth Way (#5). I think trainer Roger Attfield will send her right to the front in a race with little pace and dare them to come and get her cutting back in distance.

Bashford Manor Stakes (4:43 p.m. ET): Seven 2-year-old starters, seven runners coming out of debut victories in maiden special weight races with six by open lengths. Talk about a roll of the dice. Sometimes the betting can guide you for a race like this. If a horse opens at 4-5, his barn might know he’s a rising star. I think the most likely candidate along those lines in this race is Cazadero (#6), but I’m leaning toward Herd Immunity (#5) shipping in from California because he overcame trouble in his debut and still drew away late.

New York Stakes (5:04 p.m. ET): Mean Mary (#7) looks like the lone speed in this race and enters in terrific form with two graded stakes wins in as many races in 2020 for Graham Motion. This is a nice field, but I think it sets up ideally for the best of the bunch.

Fleur de Lis Handicap (5:15 p.m. ET): On one hand, I don’t want to overthink this: Midnight Bisou (#5) is the class of this field and an absolute standout on paper. She should win. On the other hand, she’s lost her only two races at Churchill Downs and her chief opposition is Serengeti Empress (#4), who looks like the lone speed and becomes so much better when allowed to dictate her on terms while setting the pace. That’s exactly how Serengeti Empress won the 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks on this track. My guess is Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will park Midnight Bisou on Serengeti Empress’s outside flank and not allow her to race unchallenged up front.

True North Stakes (5:36 p.m. ET): Draw a line through Firenze Fire’s (#8) most recent start – he didn’t look comfortable on a sloppy track in his first start for a new trainer – and expect an improved performance here on a main track on which he’s won 3-of-6 races. The main threat is the speedy Promises Fulfilled (#7) to his inside, but he looks like he’ll have company early which should soften him up for Firenze Fire.

Stephen Foster Stakes (5:47 p.m. ET): Tom’s d’Etat (#5) has really blossomed under the careful handling of trainer Al Stall Jr. and enters the Stephen Foster on a three-race winning streak, including the Grade 1 Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare on this track at this distance last November. By My Standards (#6) also has been terrific of late and certainly is capable of winning, but I think Tom’s d’Etat is a solid pick for Stay Lucky.

Just a Game Stakes (6:08 p.m. ET): Last year’s TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Uni (#6) returns off a 7 ½-month layoff since that signature win for Chad Brown, who clicks at 30% off a layoff of 180 days or longer. She faces last year’s Mile runner-up Got Stormy (#2) as well as talented stablemate Newspaperofrecord (#4) coming off a very impressive victory in the Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes June 6. Beau Recall (#1) is another capable of winning here in a seven-horse field deep in talent.

Regret Stakes (6:20 p.m. ET): This race drew a deep group of 13 3-year-old fillies and turf races with big fields can lead to traffic problems and a mad dash for the finish line with multiple runners in with a chance at victory. That said, I really like Crystal Cliffs (#5) from the barn of Graham Motion coming off a decisive 1 ¾-length win in her U.S. debut after joining his barn from her native France. Not sure I’d risk a major streak on her in the final race of the day, but she’s a play for me.  

Mike’s Top Stay Lucky Picks

(8 winners from 22 top plays in 2020)

1. Mean Mary (New York Stakes)

2. Come Dancing (Vagrancy Handicap)

3. Tom’s d’Etat (Stephen Foster Stakes)

4. Midnight Bisou (Fleur de Lis Handicap)

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