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Shancelot running at Santa Anita.
Shancelot running at Santa Anita.|NYRA | Chelsea Durand

Thoroughbred Thursday: Garrity picks the horses at Keeneland and Santa Anita

Chris Garrity

It's a good day to be a simulcast player. There's a decent card at Belmont Park in New York; an excellent one at Keeneland in Kentucky, a passable one at Santa Anita out West, and it's opening day of the fall/winter meeting at Hawthorne in suburban Chicago. There's enough to keep even a dedicated degenerate busy all afternoon and evening. Our play is going to be focused on Keeneland, with one race we like at Santa Anita thrown in. We've handicapped for fast and firm; let's go.

Keeneland Race 5, 3:18 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile, turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

As horse populations have shrunk,the conditions in allowance races have become more complicated, as racing secretaries tweak the rules regarding entries in order to help fields. But we don't have to worry about that here; it's a good, old-fashioned first-level allowance race for female horses who have never won two races. A deep field of eleven will go to the post, which makes doping out a winner a challenge, one we're eager to take on..

We like a first-time North American starter here, Chad Brown's 5-Thanks Be. This 3-year-old filly has run five times, all in England; she took a little bit of time to get going this year, but won very impressively last out, overcoming a lot of traffic trouble, to win a minor stakes race at Ascot in June. She beat 26 other fillies that day -- 26! -- so we don't think that she'll have a problem beating ten here. One thing to watch: since 2015, Chad Brown has won with 6 of 15 first-time North American starters at Keeneland, a juicy 40% strike rate, but all of six winners went off at odds of 2-1 or lower, and the runners that went off at 5/2 or higher were winless (0-for-5). So watch the tote: if Thanks Be gets bet, go to the window. We do not have the luxury of waiting for the post-time odds, but we will bet her to win at 3-1 anyway (and thanks to the Daily Racing Form's Kenny Peck, who unearthed these stats). The bet: Keeneland, Race 5, $40 to win on 5-Thanks Be.

Keeneland Race 7, 4:24 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile, turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This race will be run under the same condition as the 5th; we're assuming that it is the same race in the condition book, and it drew so many entrants that they split the field into two races. We like another Chad Brown runner here, 6-Dabinett, a 4-year-old filly who returned from a long layoff to win a maiden race on the turf at Saratoga in August. It's by far the best race that any of the entrants of this one have run, and while a repeat performance would probably be good enough to win this, we think she will actually run better today. We won't get her 3-1 morning line odds -- she'll be shorter by post time -- but we will bet to win her anyway. Look for her to sit midpack early, and be running well late. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $35 to win on 6-Dabinett.

Keeneland Race 9, 5:30 pm ET

Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 3 & Up

This race is an allowance in the program, but it looks like a stakes races, and we are treating it as such, as most of the dozen runners last ran in a stakes race. It's a good race to handicap.

We like, at the risk of being redundant, a Chad Brown runner, 3-Sacred Life. This 4-year-old colt has finished second in two stakes races at Saratoga since coming to the U.S. this spring, but he has run well in both, and we think he moves forward today, as the third U.S. start is when a lot of horses start to figure out American racing. He should be able to avoid traffic trouble from his inside post, always a consideration in a field this big, and we expect him to sit midpack early, and launch a strong late move around the far turn. This is another horse that will go off at odds shorter than his 3-1 morning line price, but we will bet him anyway. We will bet him to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Sacred Life.

Santa Anita, Race 5, 6:13 pm ET

Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, dirt, 2-Year-Olds

A field of ten goes to the post in this allowance/optional claimer. We like the favorite, 9-Howbeit: this colt had a smart win in a maiden race at Los Alamitos last out, and today makes his first start for new trainer Doug O'Neill. He's got the best fig, a stalking style that fits well with his outside post, and O'Neill has a good 25% win rate with horses making their first start in his barn. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 5, $25 to win on 9-Howebeit.

That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.


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