The New York Racing Association offers up another coast-to-coast bet on Sunday, which we will try to take down here in our Weekend Play. The .50 minimum Cross-Country Pick 4 is a partnership between Saratoga Race Course and Emerald Downs, and the wager will feature the always enjoyable Grade 3 Longacres Mile.
The bet includes Sunday's Race 9 at Saratoga, with an approximate post time of 5:40 p.m. EST and Race 10 around 6:18 p.m., followed later in the evening with Race 7 at Emerald Downs at approximately 8:11 p.m. EST, and ending with the Longacres Mile, Race 8 on the card, around 8:51 p.m.
You can bet the Cross-Country Pick 4 on NYRA Bets and earn a 10 percent winner's bonus. The bonus is capped at $100. The mobile-friendly website makes it easy to wager from your phone, iPad, or computer. To sign up go to www.nyrabets.com.
My approach to the wager below.
Race 9, Saratoga, 5 1/2 Furlongs, Turf
An 11-horse state-bred $25,000 OC/N1X turf sprint is a pretty tough place to start a Pick 4, but I wouldn't overthink this one. You can probably get out of here with a three-to-four horse ballot at most. #9 Noble Freud (7-5) will likely be a heavy favorite, since he's an improving 3-year-old trained by Chad Brown. He's also never run on the turf, so maybe you try to beat him with #6 First Appeal (7-2) winner of three straight turf sprints in New York for turf sprinting master Linda Rice. I like to beat favorites in the first leg of a P4, so I might make First Appeal a single.
For pricier tickets, let's include #11 Vicki's Dancer (6-1). Despite being eight years old, she's in good form, has won outside state-bred company recently and is ridden by Jose Ortiz. Also hard to toss a lightly raced 3-year-old ridden by Javier Castellano, trained by Mark Casse — include #3 Itsinthestars (6-1) on deeper tickets.
Picks: 6, 9, 11, 3
Race 10, Saratoga, 1 1/16 Miles, Inner Turf
Similar scenario to Race 9 in that you have a beatable Chad Brown-trained favorite, #1 Data Room (8-5). He's dropped from MSW to Md $75,000 without much success and drops to $40,000 so you decide whether that's a good bet. I'm inclined to prefer #10 Wingman (7-2). While he's already lost once at this level, there is almost no speed in this race and he has some. That's a huge advantage on the Inner Turf course at Saratoga. #4 Praise the Moon (20-1) is a bomber who has come close against better before, so if you have the cash, throw him in. In half his starts, #3 Strong Side (6-1) has finished second against MSW competition and makes a second start for trainer Chris Englehart, so don't ignore.
Picks: 10, 3, 4, 1
Race 7, Emerald Distaff, 1 1/8 miles
Several of these come out of the same race, the Washington Oaks in late July. Your strategy could be to pick one of those horses to win this since it was over the same track at the same distance. Or you could do what I'm doing and toss almost all of them! It was one of those uninspiring blanket finishes where all the competitors appeared equally beatable. The only one I'm keeping is #7 Reginella (20-1) because she lost half a length in that race, was steaming home at the end and is 20-1 here.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer ships in from SoCal #9 Plastered (3-1), a logical winner whose rider, Evin Roman, is lighting it up at age 19. Plastered could be a viable single, but this is a pretty wide open race, so I'll also include #4 Victress (6-1) who ships in from Hastings also with a good trainer in her corner, and #3 Citizen Kitty (7-2) who always shows up (15 for 23 in the money with six wins) and who was visually impressive winning over the track last out.
Picks: 9, 4, 7, 3
Race 8, Longacres Mile, Grade 3
Field of 12 in here, so should be a good betting race, but I think you can narrow it down to a quartet of likely winners. #6 Seattle Serenade (8–1) not only seems a perfectly-named winner of a race taking place a few miles from the Space Needle, but he's trained by Hollendorfer, is lightly raced for a 5-year-old son of Smart Strike, and has gate speed in a race without a ton of it.
#9 Mach One Rules (7-2) appears the horse to beat, considering his record at Emerald Downs (15 starts, six wins, five seconds, two thirds) and he comes in off a pair of wins over the track. #3 Gold Rush Dancer (4-1) ships in for sneaky-good trainer Vann Belvoir and the horse will be ridden by the aforementioned Roman. #10 Chief of Staff (6-1) gets a trainer change, a strong local jockey and has some graded stakes experience.
Picks: 6, 9, 10, 3
Strategy: If you played all the picks 4 x 4 x 4 x 4, the ticket would cost $128. For the same cost or much less, you could play up to four different tickets of $32 apiece with a single for each leg. That way, if we get it exactly right, we could hit the wager up to four times. So here are my tickets:
Ticket #1: 6/10, 3, 4, 1/9, 4, 7, 3/6, 9, 10, 3 ($32)
Ticket #2: 6, 9, 11, 3/10/9, 4, 7, 3/6, 9, 10, 3 ($32)
Ticket #3: 6, 9, 11, 3/10, 3, 4, 1/9/6, 9, 10, 3 ($32)
Ticket #4: 6, 9, 11, 3/10, 3, 4, 1/9, 4, 7, 3/6 ($32)
Good luck and enjoy!
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