The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Pick 6 wager returns Saturday, incorporating Keeneland’s opening weekend with Belmont Park to create an intriguing handicapping puzzle featuring familiar names.

Althiqa, seen here winning the Grade 1 Just A Game at Belmont Park in June, will be a popular choice for Breeders’ Cup Challenge Pick 6 bettors in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland. (Image: Godolphin)

This is the second version of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Pick 6, which mandates bettors pick winners from each of six Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races. Those races – graded stakes events – offer their winners all-expense paid berths in various Breeders’ Cup races. This year’s Breeders’ Cup returns to Del Mar for the second time Nov. 5 and 6.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Pick 6 comes with a 15% takeout and mandatory payout of the net pool. The minimum bet is $1 and the wager is available at simulcast facilities around the country and on ADW platforms. Free Equibase past performances are available for download.

The Grade 2 Vosburgh from Belmont Park opens this wager’s sequence. And that brings sprint specialist Firenze Fire back in the picture. Last seen savaging eventual winner Yaupon in deep stretch of the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, Firenze Fire won the Vosburgh last year. He finished third in 2019. Of his 14 career victories, seven came at Belmont Park, where Firenze Fire is 7-2-0 in 11 career races.

Althiqa figures formidable in this leg

Waiting for him are promising 3-year-old Baby Yoda and Following Sea. All vie for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

The sequence moves to Keeneland for the next two races, starting with the Grade 1 First Lady. That one-mile race on the Haggin turf course offers up a deep field of fillies and mares seeking a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Much of the money should flow to Althiqa, who brings a two-race, Grade 1 winning streak to the gate. The British-bred Althiqa won the Just a Game at Belmont in June and the Diana at Saratoga in July. She’s won three of her last four races.

Seeking to stop her are Chad Brown’s trio of Viadera, Blowout and Regal Glory.

One of the deeper Breeders’ Cup Challenge Pick 6 legs

Next comes the Grade 1 Keeneland Turf Mile, where Order of Australia returns to Keeneland for the first time since springing a 73/1 surprise in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile. A victory here sends him back to that event, unless a wide-open field of challengers led by last year’s Turf Mile winner Ivar stops him. Mint Million winner Pixelate and Bernard Baruch winner Tell Your Daddy should also factor.

The sequence flips the calendar page to Sunday and moves back to Belmont Park for the fourth race: the Grade 3 Breeders’ Futurity. This six-furlong turf event for 2-year-olds offers a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to its winner. The ones to watch are Wesley Ward’s filly Chi Town Lady, last seen winning the Bolton Landing, and Todd Pletcher’s Midnight Worker, making his turf debut.

Letruska looking for her fifth consecutive win

That closes the curtain on Belmont Park’s participation in this particular wager. The final two legs return to Keeneland, starting with the Grade 1 Spinster. That 1 1/8-mile route brings a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to its winner. It also brings back Horse of the Year candidate Letruska, who brings a four-race winning streak to Keeneland. That includes her last-out score in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga Aug. 28.

The runner-up in that race, Bonny South, along with Dunbar Road, are her main challengers.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Pick 6 ends with the Grade 2 Bourbon, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for 2-year-olds vying for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Leading this parade is Tiz the Bomb, last seen winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile.

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