Hanson: Handicapping the Oct. 10 Cross Country Pick 5

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 9th, 2020

Four of the five graded stakes in Saturday's Cross Country Pick 5 are scheduled for the turf, while the only dirt race in the sequence could be run over a wet track if the long-range weather forecast proves correct. Here's how we'll be playing the ticket.

Leg 1 -- Monmouth Stakes (G3) -- 3:53 p.m. ET

Grade 1 veteran #4 ALMANAAR (8-5) is the clear class of this field and actually won this event when it was last run in May 2019. The main drawback is that happened to be the last time he raced. The 8-year-old Shadwell homebred has had three spells of a year or longer in his career, which isn't encouraging enough to make him a single. Another Chad Brown trainee, #1 SERVE THE KING (7-2) was caught behind a slow pace and rallied well to be third in the Henry Clark S. in his stakes debut at Laurel, which was won by a horse very fond of that course. Serve the King was a course-and-distance allowance winner at Monmouth two back.

Leg 2 -- Flower Bowl (G1) -- 4:14 p.m. ET

There might be just enough speed in this 1 1/4-mile fixture for fillies and mares to assist some of the stalking/closing types. #2 MY SISTER NAT (3-1) might prefer longer than this, but has also faced more than her share of false paces this term, while #3 CIVIL UNION (3-1) is going very well and appreciates this course as well as anybody in the field. #6 NAY LADY NAY (7-2) well deserving of this overdue step up in class after back-to-back stakes wins at Monmouth and Laurel for Brown.

Leg 3 -- Fayette (G2) -- 4:57 p.m. ET

The lone dirt race in the sequence is over 1 1/8 miles for older horses. #6 MR FREEZE (3-1) was second best to Tom's d'Etat in this race last year when contested in the slop and perhaps will be more aggressively sent than in last month's Alysheba (G2), where he didn't show the same punch after setting a dawdling pace. #5 TITLE READY (10-1) is a fan of this track, while #2 CAPTIVATING MOON (5-1) is 2-for-3 over wet tracks. #10 AURELIUS MAXIMUS (10-1) has always shown potential and perhaps can move forward off a recent Churchill allowance score achieved off an eight-month spell.

Leg 4 -- Sands Point (G2) -- 5:20 p.m. ET

This soft Grade 2, peculiarly scheduled opposite the feature at Keeneland, looks a strong rebound spot for #2 SPEAKTOMEOFSUMMER (3-1). She failed to fire her best shot in the Saratoga Oaks but, as her effort in the Lake Placid (G2) shows, is capable of better.

Leg 5 -- Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) -- 5:30 p.m. ET

#4 MAGIC ATTITUDE (5-2), judging from her efforts in the French Oaks (G1) and Belmont Oaks (G1), appears the class of this group. If the three-week turnaround and/or potentially less-than-firm footing work against her, #6 HENDY WOODS (10-1) is an appealing backup who handled yielding ground at Indiana two back and last time was a sharp second to Sharing in the Edgewood (G2) following a rough journey in the early going.

Here's the 50-cent ticket:

  • 1,4 with 2,3,6 with 2,5,6,10 with 2 with 4,6 = $24.