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 racing from Aqueduct Racetrack, Oaklawn Park, and Rillito 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, offers sequences with races from Aqueduct Racetrack and partner tracks across the country.
The sequence begins at 5:00 p.m. Eastern in Race 8 from Aqueduct Racetrack. The allowance optional claimer will see a field of nine older New York-bred horses square off around a one-turn mile. Sundaeswithsandy will look to build upon an impressive 13 3/4-length romp for a $25,000 tag last out. The son of Keen Ice, who makes his first start for trainer James Bentley Begg after being haltered out of his last effort, is in search of his fifth lifetime victory. Steep opposition will be provided by the Mark Hennig-trained Ouster, who has finished no worse than fourth in eight career starts, and Whittington Park, who has finished first or third in his last four starts for conditioner Jeremiah Englehart.
The action heads south to Oaklawn Park for Race 8 [5:22 p.m.], the Grade 3, $200,000 Whitmore at six furlongs for older horses.
The in-form Tejano Twist is in search of his first graded victory for trainer Chris Hartman on the heels of a runner-up effort to multiple graded stakes-winner Gunite in the King Cotton on January 28 at Oaklawn. The Practical Joke gelding has finished on-the-board in each of his last five outings, including a three-race win streak from October to January. Hartman will also saddle the stakes-placed Edge to Edge for his graded debut after posting triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures for back-to-back scores at the Hot Springs oval. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen also sends out two formidable contenders in Grade 3-placed Cogburn and graded stakes-winner Morello.
The third leg will see sophomore fillies sprinting six furlongs at the Big A in the $100,000 Cicada [Race 9, 5:32 p.m.], headlined by the returning Hot Little Thing as she makes her first start in over five months for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. The Indiana-bred daughter of Army Mule was a 14 1/2-length winner of the six-furlong Back Home Again in September at Horseshoe Indianapolis and will cut back in distance after finishing a distant third in the Miss Indiana in October traveling one mile and 70 yards over the same oval. The streaking Tappin Josie will look to score her fourth consecutive victory for trainer Horacio De Paz while Downtown Mischief will vie to remain perfect after winning her first two lifetime starts for trainer Linda Rice.
The penultimate leg heads back to Oaklawn for Race 9 [5:54 p.m.], the Grade 3, $500,000 Essex Handicap for older horses traveling 1 1/16 miles.
Grade 1-winner Classic Causeway scratched from Saturday’s Grade 3 Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs in favor of this spot as he makes his first start over the main track since June for trainer Kenny McPeek. The son of Giant’s Causeway, who captured the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational on turf in July at Belmont Park, returns from a five-month respite that came after a close sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Bryan Station at Keeneland. The talented field includes Last Samurai, winner of the last-out Grade 3 Razorback over the same course and distance for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, multiple graded stakes-winner Tawny Port for conditioner Brad Cox, and the evergreen multiple graded stakes-winning Rated R Superstar for trainer Martin Villafranco.
The sequence concludes at Rillito Park in Race 5 [6:14 p.m.], the $20,000 Liz Bracken Memorial for sophomore fillies sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs. Last out maiden-winner Tecate Gold is in search of her first victory facing winners after graduating for an $8,500 tag on February 20 for conditioner Jeff Metz. The Juan Pablo Silva-trained Tootufftoswallow ships in by way of California after finishing fifth in an optional claimer on March 3 at Santa Anita. She was a winner on debut in a January 2 maiden claimer over the same course.
The race is named in memory Liz Bracken, who graduated from the University of Arizona and worked at NYRA for 16 years. In 2021, NYRA launched a scholarship in her honor for students in the Racetrack Industry Program, which supports students who aspire to work in the sport of thoroughbred horse racing. The scholarship will award a total of $10,000 – $5,000 for the fall semester and $5,000 for the spring. For more information, please visit https://rtip.arizona.edu/student-support/scholarships/elizabeth-bracken-memorial-scholarship.
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 18
Leg A: Aqueduct Racetrack, Race 8 – AOC (5:00 p.m. Eastern)
Leg B: Oaklawn, Race 8 – G3 Essex H. (5:22 p.m.)
Leg C: Aqueduct Racetrack, Race 9 – $100K Cicada (5:32 p.m.)
Leg D: Oaklawn, Race 9 – G3 Whitmore (5:54 p.m.)
Leg E: Rillito Park, Race 5 – $20K Liz Bracken Memorial (6:14 p.m.)