Two familiar veteran runners pop up in this week’s New York Racing Association Cross Country Pick 5 wager, a bet encompassing races at Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park.

Diamond Oops-CC Pick 5
Sprinter Diamond Oops makes his first start since finishing eighth in the Keeneland Turf Mile in October. He’s one of the marquee names in the five NYRA Cross Country Pick 5 this weekend. (Image: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King)

The first recognizable name for casual horseplayers and fans is Diamond Oops, who makes his 7-year-old debut in the third leg of the five-race sequence: the Listed Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs.

The eight-race winner of more than $1.3 million owns multiple graded stakes victories. But Diamond Oops hasn’t found a stakes winner’s circle since capturing the Grade 2 Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in October 2020. His last score came four starts ago in a Gulfstream Park handicap last June.

The second I-recognize-that-name entrant is Warrior’s Charge, who comes into the Cross Country Pick 5’s fourth leg — an open optional claimer at Oaklawn — as the 9/5 favorite. The Brad Cox trainee, who won two graded stakes in 2020, comes in off a nearly 10-length romp in an Oaklawn open optional claimer last month. Before that, he finished fourth in the inaugural Tinsel Stakes at Oaklawn.

Cross Country Pick 5 opens with filly fight

This Cross Country Pick 5 begins on the Tampa Bay Downs turf, with an overflow field of older fillies and mares tangling in the five-furlong Lightning City. Expect eight-time winner Beautiful Grace, who went 5-for-11 and hit the board three other times in 2021 in the mix. Also expect Brian Lynch’s Mamba Wamba to build on her stateside winning debut Dec. 23 in a Gulfstream Park optional claimer.

Aqueduct plays host to the second leg: the six-furlong Hollie Hughes for older New York-breds. The likely single here is two-time defending champ My Boy Tate, who built himself quite a career feasting on Black-Type races and state-bred events. The winner of 11 races in 30 starts, 8-year-old My Boy Tate banked more than $723,000. He comes in off a fourth in the Say Florida Sandy, where he crossed the finish line first and was disqualified for interference and dropped to fourth.

He’ll be pushed by stakes winner Jemography and 10-time winner Runningwscissors.

NYRA Cross Country Pick 5

Leg Track Race Time (ET)
Leg A Tampa Bay Downs Lightning 3:48 p.m.
Leg B Aqueduct Hollie Hughes 4:43 p.m.
Leg C Tampa Bay Downs Turf Dash 4:43 p.m.
Leg D Oaklawn Park Allowance 5:39 p.m.
Leg E Oaklawn Park Dixie Bell 6:10 p.m.

The final Cross Country Pick 5 race is the Dixie Bell at Oaklawn, where Happy Soul is the 9/5 morning-line favorite for the six-furlong sprint. The Runhappy filly hasn’t run in eight months, or since she tore apart the Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park last June by 11 1/2 lengths.

Waiting for Happy Soul are Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes winner Wicked Halo and Grade 3 Schuylerville winner Pretty Birdie.

The Cross Country Pick 5 minimum bet is 50 cents. The wager is available on ADW platforms and at simulcast facilities around the country. It comes with a 15% takeout and mandatory payout of the net pool.

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