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Racing at Woodbine in Toronto.
Racing at Woodbine in Toronto.|woodbine.com
Thoroughbreds

Saturday Horse Racing: Garrity picks stakes at Aqueduct, Woodbine and Del Mar, where Bob Baffert's Roadster returns to run

First race is 3:47 pm ET.

Chris Garrity

We're coming up on the quietest time of the year in horse racing, the month between Thanksgiving and the end of December, but we're not quite there yet, and there is a smattering of stakes races across the country. We expect fast dirt and firm turf everywhere, except as noted. Let's go.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:47 pm ET

Grade 3 Red Smith Stakes, 1 3/8 miles, turf, 3 & Up

The turf course at the Big A should have some give in it for the Red Smith. Due to some rain that has fallen in New York the past couple of days, the turf was rated good yesterday, and we are expecting something similar this afternoon. That means we need to identify a horse that is both in form and can handle a grass course with a little bit of give in it. There's a big, deep field of eleven runners entered, so we'll have to do some digging to identify the likeliest winner in the group.

We have done the digging, and we like a horse at a price, 3-Nakamura. Trained by Graham Motion, this 4-year-old gelding has been in good form all year, with his last effort a solid second-place finish in the Sycamore at Keeneland. He's been working very strongly in the morning in recent weeks, he's handled softer turf well in past races, he has a late-running style that should work well here, and he won the only start of his career at today's 11-furlong distance. He will get the services of top rider Jose Ortiz, which makes him very live, we think, at very nice 10-1 odds. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $30 to win on 3-Nakamura.

Woodbine, Race 8, 4:41 pm ET

Grade 3 Kennedy Road Stakes, 6 furlongs, synthetic, 3 & Up

A field of nine goes in the Kennedy Road. It's a fascinating race to handicap, primarily because of the presence of the even-money favorite, the wonderfully named 6-Pink Lloyd. This 7-year-old Ontario-bred gelding has run 26 times in his career, all of them on a synthetic racing surface, and has won 21 of them. At this 6-furlong distance, his record is even more eye-popping: he's had 17 starts at 6 furlongs, and won 16 of them -- and finished second in the other one. He's been winning these kinds of races at very short odds for what seems like forever; he's a real throwback, a horse who runs regularly and seems to fire every time.

We like Pink Lloyd, but we are going to try to beat him today. His last race was poor, especially for him, a dull fourth in the Bold Venture at Woodbine, and we are going to be betting that his long campaign, both this year and throughout his career, may be catching up to him. We just can't bet him at what will probably be 2/5 odds.

We like 2-Extravagant Kid. This 6-year-old gelding is another gritty veteran, with 11 wins in 37 career starts, most of them sprinting on turf. We like the turf-to-synthetic angle, we like Extravagant Kid's current form, but most of all, we like his style: he should get a good mid-pack, stalking trip, and we think that fits in a race that is loaded with speed. He's 3-1 on the morning line, and we will bet him to win. The bet: Woodbine, Race 8, $30 to win on 2-Extravagant Kid.

Del Mar, Race 8, 7:00 pm ET

Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, 3 & Up

There was rain in Southern California this week, but we expect the dirt at Del Mar to have dried out, and be fast, for the Native Diver, which has been a late-season staple for as long as we can remember, first at dearly-missed Hollywood Park, and more recently at Del Mar's fall meeting. There's a field of six for the 2019 edition.

The horse whose name most casual fans might remember is the horse we like: It's 4-Roadster, who runs for trainer Bob Baffert. Roadster was one of a trio of Baffert horses that ran in this year's Kentucky Derby; he finished a dismal 16th. He's raced twice since the Derby, and while he didn't win either, he did run well in both, finishing second in both the Affirmed in June, and the Damascus in November, both of which were at Santa Anita. His run in the Damascus is the one we particularly like: he rallied to make up ground on a track that was favoring speed; he didn't quite get there -- he lost by a nose -- but running against the grain of a track bias is a powerful sign that a horse is running strongly. He should like today's nine-furlong distance much better than the seven furlongs of his last race, he's got superior speed figures, and he appears to be sitting on a big race: this all makes him our strongest pick of the day. An added bonus is that he will be ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, who is hot, winning at a sizzling 30% clip at the current Del Mar meeting. We'll bet Roadster to win at 5/2, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Del Mar, Race 8, $75 to win on 4-Roadster.

That's all for today. Enjoy the racing, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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