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 and stakes action from Oaklawn Park’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby card.
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 kicks off at 4:34 p.m. Eastern with Race 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack, a seven-furlong allowance for 3-year-olds and up. The Rob Atras-trained Jake Rocks has won three of his last four starts and was last seen finishing a close third in a March 4 allowance at the Big A, defeated three-quarters of a length after rallying from fifth-of-7.
The Danny Gargan trainee American Law was the bridesmaid in his three starts last year before a breakthrough win last out in a January 8 maiden. The Constitution gelding has been on-the-board in 9-of-11 lifetime outings and makes his first start against winners. Steep opposition will be provided by Life Changer, who has finished in-the-money in his last eight starts dating to May for trainer John Terranova.
The second leg will feature the first of three stakes from Oaklawn in the sequence as a field of seven assembles for the $200,000 Hot Springs [Race 8, 4:57 p.m.], a one-mile test for sophomores. Two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox will send out Eyeing Clover on the heels of a pace-pressing fourth in the Grade 3 Gotham traveling a one-turn mile on March 4 at Aqueduct. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen saddles a pair of contenders in stakes-winner Powerful and dual-winner Gun Pilot, while the undefeated Cactus will look to make it a perfect 3-for-3 as he makes his stakes debut for conditioner Randy Morse.
The action switches back to Aqueduct for Race 8 [5:09 p.m.], the $125,000 Excelsior for older horses going nine furlongs. Graded stakes-winner Law Professor looks to get back on track for trainer Rob Atras after finishing an even third in the Grade 3 Razorback on February 18 at Oaklawn. The son of Constitution was a dominant 7 1/2-length winner of the Queens County two starts back in his 5-year-old debut and will look to notch his sixth lifetime victory.
Last year’s Excelsior winner, Forewarned, won the March 7 Washington Crossing last out at Parx Racing and will vie to successfully defend his title for owner and trainer Uriah St. Lewis while the in-form Curlin’s Wisdom enters with 5 wins from his last nine starts for conditioner Linda Rice. The dark bay Curlin colt finished a close second in last year’s Empire Classic in his lone stakes outing.
The sequence will conclude with a pair of graded events for sophomores at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 3, $600,000 Fantasy [Race 10, 6:12 p.m.] and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Arkansas Derby [Race 12, 7:24 p.m.].
The Fantasy, a 1 1/16-mile test for sophomore fillies, awards 100-40-30-20-10 qualifying points towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks to the top-five finishers. The field of 10 is led by the Cox-trained Wet Paint, who was last seen rallying impressively from 11th-of-12 to score a three-length victory in the Grade 3 Honeybee over the Hot Springs oval on February 25. Wet Paint will rematch with the Chris Hartman-trained Condensation, who finished second to her familiar foe in the Honeybee. Condensation was an optional claiming winner two starts back and looks for her first stakes victory.
Other challengers include Royal Spa, a last-out allowance winner for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, impressive 13 1/4-length maiden winner She’s Lookin Lucky for conditioner Matt Shirer, and Grand Love, who completed the trifecta in the Honeybee for Steve Asmussen.
The final leg features a field of 11 sophomores vying for a place in the Kentucky Derby starting gate in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, which awards 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers.
The Cox-trained Angel of Empire announced his presence on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a one-length score from off the pace in the Grade 2 Risen Star on February 18 at Fair Grounds Race Course. He’ll face two other formidable graded stakes winners in Grade 3 Holy Bull victor Rocket Can for Hall of Famer Bill Mott and Grade 3 Sham winner Reincarnate for conditioner Tim Yakteen.
Others looking to make their mark on the sophomore division include the Asmussen-trained multiple graded stakes-placed Red Route One [blinkers on], who rallied from 19 lengths off the pace to finish second in the Grade 2 Rebel on February 25, and the stakes-placed Two Eagles River, an eye-catching four-length winner of a local optional claimer on February 19 for Chris Hartman.
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, April 1
Leg A: Aqueduct Racetrack, Race 7 – allowance (4:34 p.m. Eastern)
Leg B: Oaklawn Park, Race 8 – $200K Hot Springs (4:57 p.m.)
Leg C: Aqueduct Racetrack, Race 8 – $125K Excelsior (5:09 p.m.)
Leg D: Oaklawn Park, Race 10 – G3 Fantasy (6:12 p.m.)
Leg E: Oaklawn Park, Race 12 – G1 Arkansas Derby (7:24 p.m.)