The New York Racing Association Inc. (NYRA) announced Wednesday that the Cross Country Pick 5 will return to the wagering menu on Saturday featuring races from Aqueduct Racetrack, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park.
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, will continue each Saturday in February and March, offering sequences with races from Aqueduct Racetrack and partner tracks across the country.
Last offered on August 6, the Cross Country Pick 5 returns following the development and implementation of technology to automate the stop-betting function on separate pools wagers, as is the case with all wagers offered at NYRA.
Saturday’s sequence kicks off at Tampa Bay Downs in Race 8 [4:16 p.m. Eastern], the $100,000 Pelican for older horses sprinting six furlongs. The field of 11 is headlined by the graded stakes-winning Sibelius for conditioner Jeremiah O’Dwyer.
The chestnut son of Not This Time was last seen taking the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector on December 31 at Gulfstream Park by 2 1/4 lengths over a loaded group of 11 rivals. Ridden by Junior Alvarado, the 5-year-old gelding attended the pace set by Uncle Ernie and took command at the stretch call to draw away to victory. Sibelius has finished on-the-board in six of his last seven outings, including another stakes coup in the Lite the Fuse in September at Pimlico Race Course. He will face a slew of talented challengers, including graded stakes-winner Willy Boi, stakes-winner Gatsby, and the 4-for-5 Michael Stidham-trainee Uphold the Law.
The action moves to Aqueduct for the first of two graded stakes in the sequence as seven sophomores vie for Kentucky Derby points in the Grade 3 Withers [Race 9, 4:27 p.m.], a nine-furlong test that awards 20-8-6-4-2 points to the top-five finishers, respectively.
The Linda Rice-trained Arctic Arrogance looks to notch his first graded triumph after a close runner-up effort to Dubyuhnell in the Grade 2 Remsen in December over the same course and distance. He enters from another gutsy runner-up performance in the one-mile Jerome on January 7. The field will also feature two other graded-stakes placed contenders in the New York-bred Andiamo a Firenze, who finished third in the Grade 3 Sanford in July, and Grade 3 Nashua third-place finisher Prove Right, who brings the most experience to the field with 11 starts on his resume.
The middle leg will feature more stakes action from Tampa as two of racing’s top sophomore fillies square off in the $150,000 Suncoast [Race 9, 4:48 p.m.], a one-mile and 40-yard test, for their seasonal debuts.
The recently crowned Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Wonder Wheel returns to action for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse for the first time since taking the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Keeneland, her second consecutive Grade 1 score after eking out a nose victory in the Alcibiades in October over the same course. She has posted four sharp works at the Casse Training Center this year, most recently covering a half-mile in 48 seconds flat on February 2.
Fellow Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will provide steep opposition as the undefeated graded stakes winner Julia Shining makes her first outing since a thrilling come-from-behind score in the Grade 2 Demoiselle in December at the Big A. The daughter of Curlin, who is a full-sister to the two-time champion Malathaat, has quickly established herself as one of the top contenders in her division with her two visually impressive victories.
Her other win was a debut maiden score in October at Keeneland where she trailed in 11th-of-12 at the quarter call and appeared beaten as the field approached the turn, but showed a tremendous turn of foot to reel in her rivals and post a 2 3/4-length victory. Stakes-winner Opus Forty Two and last-out maiden winners Champagne Calling and Guns n’ Graces are among the seven other rivals who will look to spring an upset.
The penultimate leg heads west to Oaklawn Park for Race 8 [5:10 p.m.], a salty first-level allowance for older horses sprinting six furlongs. The 4-year-old Knocker Down makes his second start for two-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Brad Cox on the heels of a game second-place effort at the same condition on January 6.
The son of Cairo Prince has won or finished second in seven of his last nine outings, including a strong 6 1/4-length optional claiming score three starts back, which garnered a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. The Wayne Catalano-trained Mister Mmmmm will try to avenge a narrow defeat last out on the same day as Knocker Down in another first-level allowance where he set the pace but was caught late and finished third, defeated just three-quarter lengths and finishing a half-length behind returning rival Ultimate.
The sequences closes out with more graded action from Tampa in Race 10 [5:18 p.m.], the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis, a 1 1/16-mile main track test for sophomores that awards 20-8-6-4-2 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
The Danny Gargan trainee Dubyuhnell will make his first start since a breakout win in the Grade 2 Remsen on December 3 at the Big A. There, he raced in tandem with Arctic Arrogance and inched away to a half-length victory to score in his graded stakes debut. Fellow Big A graded stakes-winner Champions Dream will hope to build on a closing runner-up finish in the Pasco on January 14 at Tampa in his first outing for Mark Casse. The son of Justify closed out his juvenile campaign with a three-quarter-length score in the Grade 3 Nashua in November at Aqueduct.
Other strong contenders include the Aldana Spieth-trained Dreaming of Kona, winner of the Mucho Macho Man via disqualification on New Year’s Day at Gulfstream, and Zydeceaux, winner of the aforementioned Pasco for trainer Ramon Minguet.
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, February 11
Leg A: Tampa Bay Downs – Race 8, $100K Pelican (4:16 p.m. Eastern)
Leg B: Aqueduct Racetrack – Race 9, G3 Withers (4:27 p.m.)
Leg C: Tampa Bay Downs – Race 9, $150K Suncoast (4:48 p.m.)
Leg D: Oaklawn Park – Race 8, allowance (5:10 p.m.)
Leg E: Tampa Bay Downs – Race 10, G3 Sam F. Davis (5:18 p.m.)