Hanson: Handicapping the Aug. 22 Cross Country Pick 5

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August 21st, 2020

This week's Cross Country Pick 5 is a bit unusual in that the sequence, rather than compressed into a one-to-two hour window, is instead spread out over six hours. On the plus side, the wager incorporates all Grade 1 and Grade 2 events scheduled around the country on Saturday.

Here's how we'll navigate our way, and don't forget to grab a coffee to get through the wait.

Leg 1 -- Saratoga Race 5 -- 3:28 p.m. ET

A pair from the Pletcher barn are now in this juvenile maiden special that's been transferred from turf to dirt. #12 MO MISCHIEF (2-1) second best first out to a rival that was later a distant third in the Saratoga Special (G2). Mild improvement puts him right there, but the barn's debuting #11 LIKEABLE (4-1) is just that as the son of Frosted is a half-brother to the multiple Grade 1-placed sprinter Dawn the Destroyer and another stakes winner. Another interesting first-time starter is #4 WHATMAKESSAMMYRUN (6-1), whose sire went on to Grade 1 glory after breaking his maiden over the Saratoga turf as a juvenile. This colt's half-brother, Shakhimat, won on debut and later a pair of Grade 3s on the turf.

Leg 2 -- Fourstardave H. (G1) -- 5:46 p.m. ET

Reigning champion turf mare #6 UNI (3-1) received no pace help whatsoever from stablemate Newspaperofrecord in season-opening Just a Game (G1) and should get a little more help here from #5 HALLADAY (4-1), who could prove dangerous himself if more aggressively sent by Saez rather than repeating ineffective tactics shown in the Bernard Baruch H. (G2) last time. #1 RAGING BULL (5-2) split #4 Got Stormy and Uni in this race last year and owns a commendable record both over this course and this season in general.

Leg 3 -- Del Mar Handicap (G2) -- 8 p.m. ET

#1 UNITED (8-5) is the best turf horse in California and will be a popular single both here and in other multi-race wagers, but does tend to cut things uncomfortably close. #9 OSCAR DOMINGUEZ (6-1) upset the favorite going a furlong longer last year in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) and gets a four-pound pull in the weights this time.

Leg 4 -- Del Mar Oaks (G1) -- 9 p.m. ET

A couple French imports add some spice to this largely local affair, but the form of #3 Miss Extra's Prix Sandringham (G2) at Chantilly has not worked out so well with the second and third subsequently dusted in lower-level events. That leaves Prix Cleopatre (G3) heroine #8 NEIGE BLANCHE (5-1) as perhaps the stronger of the two invaders. Among the local contingent, #4 WARREN'S SHOWTIME (6-1) compromised by being too far back in the San Clemente (G2) last month. If Smith can keep her closer while #9 Parkour wings it, perhaps she can get turn the tables on circuit division leader #10 Laura's Light, who's had some dream trips of late.

Leg 5 -- Pacific Classic (G1) -- 9:30 p.m. ET

#5 MAXIMUM SECURITY's (1-1) comeback effort in the San Diego H. (G2) wasn't pretty, but he got the job done and faces essentially the same pair of serious rivals in this 1 1/4-mile test. #2 HIGHER POWER (3-1) hasn't replicated a run as good as his Pacific Classic last year, which he dominated by more than five lengths, but distance likely more in his wheel house than #1 Midcourt's, so he's preferred as the backup.

The 50-cent ticket:

  • 4,11,12 with 1,5,6 with 1,9 with 4,8 with 2,5 = $36