All-stakes Cross Country Pick 5 to feature racing from Aqueduct Racetrack, Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs
by Keith McCalmont
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will host a Cross Country Pick 5 on Saturday, featuring an all-stakes sequence from Aqueduct Racetrack, Oaklawn Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
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.
Saturday’s sequence kicks off in Race 9 at 4:04 p.m. Eastern from Tampa Bay Downs as a field of seven older fillies and mares travel nine furlongs on turf in the Grade 2 Hillsborough.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will saddle a trio of contenders in Grade 1-winners Shantisara and Rougir along with the multiple graded-stakes placed Kalifornia Queen. Opposition will be provided by the one-two finishers of last month’s Grade 3 Endeavour in Surprisingly and Scottish Star, while multiple graded-stakes winner Gam’s Mission will look to make a winning seasonal debut from a nine-month layoff.
The second leg will see an overflow field of sophomore fillies route 1 1/16-miles on the Tampa Bay turf in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks [Race 10, 4:45 p.m.] led by the Brown-trained Free Look.
The Tapit bay graduated in September at Saratoga Race Course ahead of a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo in October at Belmont at the Big A. She was last seen finishing a troubled fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Keeneland. Looking to topple that foe will be graded-stakes placed Alpha Bella and stakes winners Navy Goat and Dreaming of Snow, who makes her turf debut.
The middle leg will switch to Aqueduct as a field of eight older fillies and mares contest the $100,000 Correction [Race 9, 4:56 p.m.], a six-furlong main track sprint.
The New York-bred Rossa Veloce could prove tough to catch if she replicates the lofty 102 Beyer Speed Figure garnered three starts back in an open allowance sprint at the Big A. The 5-year-old Girolamo mare has won 3-of-4 starts since being claimed by trainer Rob Atras. Easy to Bless, a 5-year-old Flat Out dark bay, will hope a speed duel develops as she looks to utilize a stalking approach under regular rider Jacqueline Davis for trainer James Ferraro. Shippers Big Tentations and Prodigy Doll add depth to a salty field.
The penultimate leg will see Tapit Trice look to announce his presence on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby [Race 11, 5:15 p.m.] for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The 1 1/16-miles test for sophomores, which drew a field of 12, offers 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers.
Tapit Trice graduated at second asking in December at the Big A over Slip Mahoney, who exited that effort to break his maiden ahead of a runner-up effort in last weekend’s Grade 3 Gotham at the Big A. A $1.3 million Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, Tapit Trice enters from an eight-length score over returning stablemate Shesterkin in a one-mile optional-claimer at Gulfstream that registered a 92 Beyer. A talented field includes Grade 3 Nashua winner Champions Dream for Hall of Fame conditioner Mark Casse; Grade 3 Sam F. Davis runner-up Groveland for trainer Eoin Harty; and stakes-winner Zydeceaux for trainer Ramon Minguet.
The sequence concludes with the Grade 2 Azeri [Race 9, 5:54 p.m.] from Oaklawn Park as last year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks-winner Secret Oath makes her seasonal debut in the 1 1/16-miles test for older fillies and mares.
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, the Arrogate chestnut has won 3-of-4 starts at Oaklawn, including the Martha Washington and Grade 3 Honeybee last year en route to the Oaks. She will find significant opposition in the form of multiple Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Clairiere for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The 5-year-old Curlin mare, who also makes her seasonal debut, won 3-of-6 starts last year led by a head score over Malathaat – the eventual Champion Older Dirt Female – in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park. A stacked field includes multiple graded-stakes winner Interstatedaydream for trainer Brad Cox and graded-stakes winner Hidden Connection for conditioner Bret Calhoun.
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.
America's Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of the Aqueduct winter meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the best way to bet every race of the Aqueduct Racetrack winter meet. Available to horse players nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
Cross Country Pick 5 – Saturday, March 11
Leg A: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 9 - G2 Hillsborough (4:04 p.m. Eastern)
Leg B: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 10 - G3 Florida Oaks (4:45 p.m.)
Leg C: Aqueduct Racetrack, Race 9 - $100K Correction (4:56 p.m.)
Leg D: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 11 - G3 Tampa Bay Derby (5:15 p.m.)
Leg E: Oaklawn Park, Race 9 - G2 Azeri (5:54 p.m.)