Maryanorginger won the Astoria at Belmont last June and races today at Oaklawn after a layoff.
Maryanorginger won the Astoria at Belmont last June and races today at Oaklawn after a layoff. |NYRA

Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream and Oaklawn have Saturday horse racing and Garrity's got his picks, including the Purple Martin Stakes

Garrity's first race, at Tampa Bay Downs, goes off at 2:30 pm EDT.

Chris Garrity

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There’s just a lone stakes race on the slate today, the $150,000 Purple Martin Stakes from Oaklawn Park, but we are not complaining: in a world where all the other sports have been shut down, when most people are stuck at home and starving for any kind of diversion, we will take any kind of racing we can get. So we will be thankful for the races, all of them, at Tampa Bay Downs, Oaklawn, and Gulfstream Park. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all these races, so let’s go.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, 2:30 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

This maiden turf route for 3-year-olds drew a full field of ten. There are some well-bred and expensive colts in here, and it’s a tough race to handicap. We like a first-time starter, 1-Gravitas, who starts for trainer Jonathan Thomas. We like his pedigree, as he’s by top stallion Blame, out of a War Front mare; we think grass is the right surface for him. We also like his workout pattern, as he has a long string of regularly spaced, stamina-building works, which should have him fit for this. And we like the fact that Thomas can win with horses making his career debut. In a field where there’s a lot of speed, we think that Gravitas can get a good ground-saving trip from the rail, and make his move in the race’s final quarter mile. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 5, $30 to win on 1-Gravitas.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, 3:30 pm ET

Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

This first-level allowance for older females drew a field of ten. It’s a wide open race, with the favorite a tepid 5/2. With the horses seemingly pretty evenly matched in terms of ability, who gets the best trip is going to be a key factor in determining the winner. While this is generally true in all turf races, it seems especially important here.

3-Hungry Kitten, a 4-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy who starts for Shug McGaughey, is a strong play here. Like many McGaughey trainees, it took her a few tries to break her maiden, but when she finally did win a race, last May at Churchill Downs, she impressed her connections enough that they moved her all the way up to a stakes race, the Grade 3 Regret, also at Churchill, in July. That race was a disaster for her, as she ran around the track in last place, and something evidently went wrong with her, because she’s been away from the races since. But she’s back today, and her workout pattern suggests that she’s fit and sound. She is a stretch runner, and she should get a good ground-saving trip from her inside post position, and be able to make a winning move down the stretch. Look for her to be moving late. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Hungry Kitten.

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:49 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Eight draw into the 9th at Gulfstream, a race for 3-year-old colts who have started for a claiming price of $50,000 or less at some point in their careers. We’re anticipating a speed duel in here, as there are a few colts who seem to need the lead, but who have about the same amount of early speed. Since none of the speed horses will be able to clear the others, they’ll all run too fast, and they’ll all be out of gas at the top of the stretch.

This makes the pick 6-Silvery Enough, who starts for trainer Bob Hess. He last ran in a race at a mile, but today cuts back to six furlongs, and in previous races he showed the ability to be a closing sprinter, which is the style that fits here. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 6-Silvery Enough.

Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 5:06 pm ET

Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This first-level allowance for females drew a full field of twelve. The pick is 3-Maryanorginger, who is the lone 3-year-old filly in the field: she returns today off a layoff, but her lone career start was a win in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont park last June. It’s telling that trainer Jeremiah Englehart thought enough of this girl to enter in a stakes race first out, but it’s even more telling that she won it smartly, beating a good field that included Perfect Alibi, who went on to win multiple graded stakes last year, and who ran in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies. There isn’t a runner like Perfect Alibi in this field, and while we generally are skeptical of the chances of 3-year-olds running against elders this time of year, Maryanorginer seems to be the exception, as she simply seems to outclass the rest of the field. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Maryanorginger.

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 5:20 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up

This is a tough third-level allowance for older horses on the grass, and it drew a field of eleven. We’re taking a shot here with a horse at a price, 1-Colonist, a 5-year-old Todd Pletcher trainee who has a lot of back class, having run in some of the toughest grass races on the West Coast, but who has been away from the races for a long time, having last raced in November of 2018. Pletcher is incredibly good getting horses to fire off the bench -- he has 30% win rate with horses returning after layoffs of six months or longer -- and in his past races, Colonist showed a strong finishing kick, which we think is a fit in a field with a lot of speed. He also is running as a first-time gelding, and this “ultimate equipment change” is probably a positive sign as well. Look for him to save ground early, in mid-pack, and to be moving late. Because of the layoff, he’s 10-1; we will bet him to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 1-Colonist.

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 6:09 pm ET

$150,000 Purple Martin Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Purple Martin drew a field of ten, and it’s a very, very good field, and a fascinating race to handicap. One could go in several different directions here, parimutuelly speaking, but we are going with the angle that we like best: speed. 4-Edgeway broke her maiden for trainer John Sadler in her first career start last out, over the Oaklawn racing surface, and she did so with a tremendously impressive wire-to-wire effort, running very fast early, and earning a very big Beyer Speed Figure of 94. She’s got a pretty big edge in the early pace numbers, so we expect her to go right to the lead, and to stay there all the way around the track. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $50 to win on 4-Edgeway.

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

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