By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will host a Cross Country Pick 5 on Saturday, featuring an all-stakes sequence from Aqueduct Racetrack and Oaklawn Park.
The Cross Country Pick 5 requires bettors to pick the winner of five select races from tracks across the country. The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is available on ADW platforms and at simulcast facilities across the country with each week featuring a mandatory payout of the net pool. The Cross Country Pick 5, boasting a low 15 percent takeout, will continue each Saturday in February and March, offering sequences with races from Aqueduct Racetrack and partner tracks across the country.
The sequence kicks off in Race 4 [2:20 p.m. Eastern] from Aqueduct with Kentucky Oaks points on the line in the $200,000 Busher, a one-turn mile for sophomore fillies. The Busher will award the top-five finishers with 50-20-15-10-5 qualifying points towards the prestigious Grade 1 test on May 6 at Churchill Downs. The field of six features impressive debut maiden winner Ziaerati, who enters from an 8 1/4-length debut victory on January 15 for trainer Robert Falcone, Jr. The daughter of Into Mischief will face a formidable challenge from a pair of contenders for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown in Asset Purchase and Shidabhuti. Both fillies enter from last-out victories in the Big A with the former boasting an eight-length debut score in off-the-pace fashion.
The second leg will see older horses contest at six furlongs in Race 8 [4:27 p.m.] at the Big A, the Grade 3, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap. The field of eight is led by the multiple graded stakes-winning Drafted, who looks to return to winning ways after finishing third to the in-form Repo Rocks last out in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 28. Steep opposition will be provided by graded stakes-winners Runninsonofagun, who makes his return from a three-month respite; Eastern Bay, winner of the Grade 3 General George last out; and Chateau, the winner of this event in 2021.
The action switches to Oaklawn Park for the middle leg in Race 7 [4:50 p.m.], the $150,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ at six furlongs for Arkansas-bred fillies and mares aged 3 years old and up. The Tom Swearingen-trained Summer Shoes has never finished off-the-board in five lifetime outings and will look to keep that momentum going on the heels of a close third-place finish in a first-level allowance facing open company on January 29. The daughter of Commander’s Shoes was a winner two starts back in a state-bred optional claimer by three-quarters of a length over returning rival Connie K.
Connie K will look to successfully defend her title in this event as she arrives from a distant fifth-place finish in the American Beauty on January 21 at Oaklawn for conditioner Randy Morse. The Street Strategy bay was the winner of a 5 1/2-furlong allowance in November at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Unbridled Twister, runner-up in last year’s running, will look to claim her second consecutive victory after scoring a pacesetting optional claiming victory by a half-length on February 3 for trainer Al Cates.
The penultimate leg will see an overflow field vie for Kentucky Derby points in Race 9 [4:56 p.m.] at Aqueduct in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham, a one-turn mile for sophomores that awards 50-20-15-10-5 qualifying points to the top-five finishers. Lugan Knight enters from a last-out victory in the $150,000 Jerome on January 7 at Aqueduct, besting Arctic Arrogance by a half-length after battling for command throughout. The son of Goldencents makes his graded debut for trainer Michael McCarthy after working extensively at Churchill Downs’ training center. Carmel Road ships east for trainer Tim Yakteen on the heels of a runner-up performance in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity on December 17. The son of Quality Road was an 8 3/4-length winner at second asking going the Gotham distance around two turns in August at Del Mar.
Several of the other 12 contenders arrive with graded experience, including the New York-bred General Banker, who finished third last out in the Grade 3 Withers traveling nine furlongs on February 11, and Fort Warren, who finished third in the Grade 2 San Vicente on January 29 at Santa Anita Park.
The sequence concludes with another six-furlong state-bred stake from Oaklawn in Race 9 [5:54 p.m.], the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ for 3-year-olds and up. The Nancy Knott trainee Navy Seal arrives amid a run of good form, posting a 2 1/2-length victory in his latest outing traveling six furlongs in a state-bred optional claimer. He has finished on-the-board in four of his last six outings and is in search of his first stakes coup, his closest finish a third in the Work All Week in June at Hawthorne.
The John Ortiz-trained Gar Hole will look to defend his title in this event as he returns to state-bred company after finishing an even fourth facing open company in the King Cotton on January 28. His last effort against Arkansas-breds was a three-length victory two starts back in a six-furlong optional claimer in wire-to-wire fashion. The veteran 8-year-old Bandit Point, trained and owned by Robert Cline, seeks his first career stakes win after finishing second or third in this race in each of the last four runnings. He has earned $517,940 through a lifetime record of 48-5-8-11.
Free Equibase past performances for the Cross Country Pick 5 sequence will be available for download at https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/cross-country-wagers.
Cross Country Pick 5 – Saturday, March 4
Leg A: Aqueduct Racetrack – Race 4, $200K Busher (2:20 p.m. Eastern)
Leg B: Aqueduct Racetrack – Race 8, G3 Tom Fool H. (4:27 p.m.)
Leg C: Oaklawn Park – Race 7, $150K Downthedustyroad Breeders’ (4:50 p.m.)
Leg D: Aqueduct Racetrack – Race 9, G3 Gotham (4:56 p.m.)
Leg E: Oaklawn Park – Race 9, $150K Nodouble Breeders’ (5:54 p.m.)