By MARK HOFFMAN
For The Recorder
Fifty-cent Pick 4 and Pick 5 plays are quickly becoming some of my favorite wagers. During the Saratoga meet, I made my most money with these wagers with just picking winners and stringing them together and equaling big payouts. Today at Belmont Park and Woodbine Racecourse we have one such event and it’s an all-turf Pick 5
Two races at Belmont Park, including one stakes, and three turf stakes races north of the border at Woodbine make up a fun wagering event today. Being billed as the XC Pick 5 on the NYRA website, the takeout percentage is only 15 percent and the minimum amount to wager is only 20 cents.
The first race in the sequence starts at Woodbine and is the Grade II Canadian Handicap (8th) with the post at 4:30 p.m. Seven older fillies and mares are going 1 1/8 miles. The rail horse Quidura (#1) looks like the speed from the inside and the horse to beat after getting caught late in the Diana Handicap at Saratoga by Lady Eli. I may also use Starship Jubilee (#3), who has eight wins in fifteen lifetime starts on the weeds, in backup tickets. Canadian Handicap numbers are: 1/3 with 7/5.
An optional allowance claimer is the second leg of the sequence at Belmont Park. Eleven runners are entered in the seventh race (4:40 p.m.) and I may go a little deep here with selections. Annals of Time (#3) is the definite class of the field, but hasn’t raced since last December where he won the Hollywood Derby for Chad Brown. He’ll be a use, I think he needs a race so I’ll include others. Cloontia (#8) has run well over the Belmont lawn and is a pace factor here and so is Black Tide (#10) who should be leading the way from his outside post. The 3-8-10 are the numbers used for the second leg.
Back to Woodbine for leg three, the Northern Dancer Stakes (10th) at 1 1/2 miles over the majestic Woodbine turf course with a field of eight (5:30 p.m.). Here may be my only single of the day with Hawkbill (#8) getting top billing. This European import gets Lasix for his stateside debut and has faced Group I fields in Germany, France, England and Ireland. Tough to go past him, numbers for the Northern Dancer Stakes are: 8 with 7/4/5 underneath in exotics.
A field of 10 three-year old fillies are in the Belmont feature of the day, the Sands Point Stakes (10th) at 5:45 p.m. going 1 1/8 miles. Uni (#6) just missed at Saratoga going this distance on soft turf last time out. This former European closer will hopefully run them down late. I’ll also be using both Defiant Honor (#9), who won the restricted Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga going a mile, and Inflexibility (10th), who ships down from Woodbine after winning a restricted statebred race there. Numbers for the Sands Point Stakes are: 6-9-10 on top with 2/3/8 underneath.
We wrap things up with the Woodbine Mile (12th) at 6:39 p.m., which has a field of 12 runners. The horse from the rail, World Approval (#1) looks like he’s found a home in these middle-distance turf races, by winning the one mile Fourstardave Handicap last time out smartly. He’s my top pick on my main ticket, but I’ll use others, too. Deauville (#6) set the pace in the Arlington Million as the favorite in his last start. While he hasn’t won at a mile on turf, this turn back in distance may suit him well. Lancaster Bomber (#10) is my longshot play here. He has disappointed his trainer Aidan O’Brien by going winless this year after high hopes for him as a 2-year-old last season. Maybe firm turf could wake him up here at a decent price. The Woodbine Mile selections are: 1/6 with 10/7/11.
My ticket for the XC Pick 5 (Belmont/Woodbine) turf wager is: 1/3 with 3/8/10 with 8 with 6/9/10 with 1/6. Total cost for the wager in the 20 cent increment is $7.20.