Handicapping the Cross Country Pick 5 on Black Friday

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

November 25th, 2020

The Cross Country Pick 5 at Aqueduct and Churchill Downs on Black Friday is nearly an all-stakes variety, and perhaps would have been if grass racing at Churchill had not been halted prematurely, necessitating the cancellation of the River City (G3).

Nonetheless, the sequence is a challenging one with few apparent stick outs, especially in the Aqueduct legs. The sequence kicks off at 1:46 p.m. ET.

The 50-cent ticket:

  • 2,8,10,11 with 5,6 with 3,4,5,12 with 3,8 with 12 = $32

Leg A -- Aqueduct Race 5 -- Gio Ponti S.

Trainer Mike Maker has a pair of solid contenders in #2 AJOURNEYTOFREEDOM (6-1) and #11 BODECREAM (5-1), the latter a stakes-winning gelding who placed in the Saranac (G3) and Hill Prince (G3) in his last two. The former should also appreciate the slight drop in class. Perhaps #8 VANZZY (12-1) can turn recent form around  if he can catch a turf with less give in it, while New York-bred #10 CITY MAN (6-1) run close to graded performers Field Pass, Fancy Liquor, and Pixelate in previous runs on the grass.

Leg B -- Aqueduct Race 8 -- Comely (G3)

A lightly-raced daughter of American Pharoah, #5 THANKFUL (4-1) is ready to step back up in trip, and into stakes company, off back-to-back wins, the latter an allowance score over the next-out winner #6 MRS. DANVERS (5-2). The latter, by Tapit, makes a belated two-turn debut here and is out of a half-sister to War Front and last week's Red Smith (G3) winner North Dakota.

Leg C -- Aqueduct Race 9 -- Forever Together S.

#12 TAPIT TODAY (2-1) the one to beat off a one-length tally in the Athenia (G3), but she doesn't tower over this crew. #4 FEEL GLORIOUS (9-2) could rebound returning to a course over which she's 2-for-2, while the lightly-raced #3 SORRENTINA LEMON (12-1) narrowly missed to Feel Glorious in a stakes here last December and enters in the third race of her form cycle. #5 CHALEUR (8-1) should be prominent much of the way and is more capable than what she showed in the Noble Damsel (G3).

Leg D -- Churchill Downs Race 9

#8 LOOKING AT BIKINIS (2-1) disappointed in his comeback attempt on Breeders' Cup weekend, but was part of a hot pace and not surprising that he'd be in need of a race following a 10-month spell. Dangerous with his best. #3 EMPTY TOMB (6-1) no match for the graded-quality Performer last time, perhaps bouncing a bit off a big win two back and not handling the mud. Has done his best work around one turn and on a fast track.

Leg E -- Churchill Downs Race 10 -- Clark (G1)

The Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) was a performance too bad to be true for #12 BY MY STANDARDS (4-1), whose form earlier this season is hard to fault with three G2 victories and strong second-place efforts to Tom's d'Etat and Improbable. Drawn wide here, but stands a strong chance at rebounding after reportedly not handling the Keeneland surface all that well.