Hanson: Handicapping the Aug. 15 Cross Country Pick 5
For the first time in several weeks, all legs of Saturday's Cross Country Pick 5 will be stakes events. We'll try and get off on the right foot by attempting to beat the likely short-priced favorite in the Saratoga Derby.
Leg 1 -- Saratoga Derby -- 5:07 p.m. ET
There's no doubting the quality of #2 Decorated Invader, but at a morning line price of 7-5 he doesn't completely stand out against this field and is potentially beatable. Fellow Christophe Clement stablemate #5 GUFO (9-2) has a wicked late turn of foot, which has propelled him to four straight victories including a course-record performance in the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park over 1 1/8 miles last time. He could be along in time if not left with too much to do late. #6 COLONEL LIAM (7-2) picks a tough spot in which to make his stakes debut, but looked a graded stakes horse in the making when beating older allowance rivals in his turf debut earlier this meet.
Leg 2 -- Pegasus S. -- 5:12 p.m. ET
This nominal Kentucky Derby (G1) prep at Monmouth Park features #5 PNEUMATIC (5-2), fourth in the Belmont S. (G1) behind Tiz the Law, Dr Post, and Max Player. That's a strong company line, and his stakes debut in the Matt Winn (G3) two back, a third behind Maxfield and Ny Traffic, was also a solid piece of work. #7 AS SEEN ON TV (7-2) has had plenty of time to recover from duds in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1). Plenty quick enough to win if near his best. Stakes newcomer #6 ARKAAN (9-2) stretches out after two facile victories at Parx and Delaware going 6 furlongs. Son of Into Mischief could evolve into more than a sprinter and should be prominent from the outset.
Leg 3 -- King Edward (G2) -- 5:22 p.m. ET
#5 SILENT POET (9-5) owns an 11-7-3-0 record over the Woodbine turf, the lone serious flop being a tough renewal of the Woodbine Mile (G1) last fall. Must take seriously despite the presence of other speed elements. #2 MARCH TO THE ARCH (4-1) owns plenty of back class and won his only other try on this lawn. Should get the proper pace setup.
Leg 4 -- Alabama (G1) -- 5:43 p.m. ET
Trainer Kenny McPeek seemingly owns the goods in this historic 1 1/4-mile fixture for 3-year-old fillies. The well-traveled #5 SWISS SKYDIVER (1-1) has passed virtually every test of late in her own division, and second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass (G2) just adds to her appeal. If she doesn't quite get 10 furlongs, though, stablemate #1 ENVOUTANTE (8-1) surely has a right to exiting a third-place finish in the Ashland (G1) over 1 1/16 miles. Has been training up a storm over this track and on the Oklahoma training surface, and jockey Jose Ortiz has won the last three renewals of the Alabama.
Leg 5 -- Woodbine Oaks -- 5:57 p.m.
Canadian juvenile champion #1 CURLIN'S VOYAGE (3-1) was up in time to defeat several of these in the 7-furlong Fury S. early last month, but should be much better suited stretching back out to two turns here. #7 MERVEILLEUX (4-1), a wide-trip fourth in the open Selene (G3) last time, was only a neck behind Curlin's Voyage when they last met in the Dec. 8 Ontario Lassie. #5 AFLEET KATHERINE (15-1), a half-sister to local Grade 2 heroine Almafi Coast, has won both starts in photo finishes going seven-eighths on grass. She doesn't own a knockout turf pedigree either, so there's probably a lot more here left to unwrap. Distance and surface likely suits, though the pace won't be nearly as fast.
Here's the 50-cent ticket:
- 5,6 with 5,6,7 with 2,5 with 1,5 with 1,5,7 = $36.