Saturday’s Cross Country Pick 5 is comprised of graded stakes from Belmont Park and Delaware Park. The wager is a 50-cent minimum and post time for the first leg, the Delaware Oaks (G3), is 4:45 p.m. EDT.
Here’s my thoughts on the sequence:
Leg 1 – Delaware Race 8 – Delaware Oaks (G3)
#2 Piece of My Heart and #1 Comical exit a 1-2 finish in the May 1 Gardenia Stakes at Oaklawn Park, both fillies can’t be dismissed from contention here. However, the 1 1/16-mile test could set up well for the improving #3 Princess Cadey, a former claimer who will make her first graded attempt off a pair of encouraging stakes efforts at Laurel Park. The stalker is at an attractive 10-1 on the morning line, and I’ll also use the late-running #8 Queen Bridget, who was no match for Gamine and Speech in an Oaklawn allowance two back but is eligible to make her presence felt from off the pace in this spot.
Leg 2 – Delaware Race 9 – Kent Stakes (G3)
I’m giving the slight edge to #3 Pixelate, who has really come on in his last two stakes tries for Michael Stidham. A good second in the War Chant S. at Churchill Downs two back, outfinishing third-placer Field Pass, Pixelate was at a tactical disadvantage in the June 20 Audubon S. behind a loose-on-the-lead Field Pass. The dark bay colt still ran well for third, and Pixelate is eligible to move forward here while wheeling back off an encouraging 14-day rest.
#6 Gufo is a must-use. A winner of three straight for Christophe Clement, the chestnut ran big when taking the May 2 English Channel S. at Gulfstream last time.
Leg 3 – Belmont Race 9 – Metropolitan Handicap (G1)
#2 Vekoma is the speed in the eight-horse Met Mile field. Perfect from two starts at Belmont, the 4-year-old exits a spectacular 7 1/4-length romp in the June 6 Carter H. (G1), registering a field-best 113 Brisnet Speed rating, and the middle-distance specialist should receive a nice setup here. I think Vekoma will have more to offer in his third start back this year for George Weaver, and he’s my single.
Leg 4 – Belmont Race 10 – Manhattan Stakes (G1)
Chad Brown has won five of the last eight runnings of the 1 1/4-mile turf test and holds a strong hand again with three of the eight runners this year. #5 Devamani came up a little short in the 1 1/8-mile Fort Marcy (G2) on June 6, finishing a neck second, but the added ground should benefit him Saturday. Transferred to Brown over the winter, 6-year-old has come on his last two stakes attempts and won’t face the stiffest competition in this Grade 1 test. He can prove best from off the pace with Joel Rosario.
I’m against 2-1 morning line favorite Instilled Regard, who probably favors less ground, but will use #2 Rockemperor from the Brown barn. And I’ll add #3 Cross Border, who could get brave as the probable lone speed.
Leg 5 – Belmont Race 11 – Suburban Stakes (G2)
#4 Mr. Buff stumbled at the start and wound up finishing an even second in the June 12 Commentator S. after a freshening. That race should serve as a good tightener for the classy New York-bred gelding and Mr. Buff is eligible to be lone speed today. I’m tabbing him wire to wire.
#1 Tacitus could find this level of competition to his liking, and #6 Sir Winton looks capable of improving upon a runner-up in the June 11 Flat Out S. over the track. Both will be added to the ticket.
50-cent Cross-Country Pick 5 Wager
- 1,2,3,8 with 3,6 with 2 with 2,3,5 with 1,4,6 = $36