Four stakes races up and down the graded-stakes ladder highlight this week’s New York Racing Association Cross Country Pick 5. The horizontal exotic once again brings you races from Monmouth Park, Saratoga, and Canada’s Woodbine.

Channel Maker-CC Pick 5
Reigning Champion Turf Male Channel Maker will try giving trainer Bill Mott his record-setting fifth Bowling Green title in this week’s finale of the Cross Country Pick 5. (Image: Janet Garaguso/NYRA Photo)

The minimum bet for the three-track, five-race wager is 50 cents. The Cross Country Pick 5 is available on ADW platforms and simulcast facilities around the country. It comes with a mandatory payout of the net pool. Last week’s Cross Country Pick 5 paid $6,061.25 out of a total pool of $106,967.

This week’s pool begins at Monmouth Park with the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks. The 3-year-old filly to watch in this 1 1/16-mile route is Midnight Obsession. She comes in off two consecutive stakes runner-up finishes in the Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park and at the Lyphard at Penn National. That followed two victories opening her career.

Her stablemate, Leader of the Band, was third in the Delaware Oaks. Orbs Baby Girl, who was sixth at the Delaware Oaks, and Saffie Joseph Jr’s Allworthy – who makes her stakes debut after two wins – are also present.

Cross Country Pick 5 sprints to Saratoga for Leg 2

From there, the action moves to Saratoga for the first of its three graded stakes races. That’s the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt for 3-and-up sprinters. One of the best sprint races of the summer, the Vanderbilt sends out Champion Sprinter Whitmore, along with nine-time graded stakes winner Firenze Fire and the sizzling 2/1 favorite, Mischevious Alex. Also worthy of attention are Lexitonian and Special Reserve.

Matters move north of the border to Woodbine for Leg 3, a seven-furlong turf allowance for fillies and mares. The lone non-stakes race features a duel between Scatter the Clounds and Queen’s Speed. Scatter the Clouds won her June 27 debut while Queen’s Speed closed 2020 with two victories and opened 2021 after a 7 ½-month layoff with a runner-up finish.

NYRA Cross Country Pick 5

Leg Track Race Time (ET)
Leg A Monmouth Park G3 Monmouth Oaks 4:33 p.m.
Leg B Saratoga G1 Vanderbilt 5;03 p.m.
Leg C Woodbine Race 9 5:17 p.m.
Leg D Saratoga G2 Jim Dandy 5:39 p.m.
Leg E Saratoga G2 Bowling Green (turf) 6:13 p.m.

Saratoga closes the Cross Country Pick 5 with the final two legs. The first is the Grade 2 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy, the traditional prep for Saratoga’s flagship race, the Grade 1 Travers Stakes. It provides a perfect single opportunity with 1/2 favorite Essential Quality heading the six-horse field. The Champion 2-Year-Old and reigning Belmont Stakes winner owns 2021 victories in that Belmont, along with the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes and Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. He is 6-for-7 lifetime.

Meanwhile, five of the six Jim Dandy contenders own a graded-stakes title, including 4/1 Masqueparade. He captured the Ohio Derby last out.

Salty turf test makes for a tricky finish

The wager wraps up with the Grade 2 Bowling Green. That grass race sends its 4-and-up horses 1 3/8 miles on Saratoga’s inner turf course. The key contenders here are Channel Cat, seeking his second Bowling Green title in three years, and the current Champion Turf Male, Channel Maker.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who conditions Channel Maker, also sends out graded-stakes winner Red Night and Moon Over Miami in search of his fifth Bowling Green crown.

Again, Equibase offers free past performances for the Cross Country Pick 5 sequence.