Garrity's races go off between 4 pm and 6:16 pm EDT.
There are two good stakes at Oaklawn Park today, the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at 6 furlongs and the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth. These are both excellent races, and they are supported by a strong undercard. We will focus mostly on the racing in Arkansas, but we’ll throw in a play or two at Tampa Bay and Gulfstream, which are also running today. Add it up, and it’s a Saturday afternoon six pack, six races that go off in just a bit over two hours.
We will take a look at the stakes first, and then the rest of the plays in chronological order. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:14 pm ET
Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
The Count Fleet drew a strong field of eleven. It’s a very, very tough group, comprised of grizzled, veteran sprinters, but our pick is one of the fastest horses in training in North America right now, 4-Bobby’s Wicked One. His race record is very straightforward: when he gets a comfortable early lead, he wins; when he has to fight for the early lead, when he has to go too fast to establish early superiority, he loses, usually by a huge margin. He won his last two races, and finished last in the two before; the difference in results was dictated by his ability, or lack thereof, to control the early pace.
We think that in the Count Fleet today, Bobby’s Wicked One is going to get the lead, and we think he will do so rather comfortably. From there, the rest of the field is going to be unable to catch him. He will be aided by the main track at Oaklawn, which has been speed-favoring this week (though the tendency has not quite reached the level of speed bias). At 3-1, Bobby’s Wicked One merits a play, and an aggressive one. We will bet him to win. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $50 to win on 4-Bobby’s Wicked One.
Oaklawn Park, Race 10, 6:16 pm ET
Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
The Apple Blossom is a terrific race, with an incredibly rich history. A lot of great fillies and mares have won it, including all-time greats Zenyatta, Bayakoa, Paseana, and Azeri, who won the race a record three times. All are in the Hall of Fame, which shows what a prestigious race this is.
The field of the 2020 edition of the Apple Blossom might not have a horse of that caliber in it, but it’s an excellent race from both a sporting and wagering perspective. There are 14 females entered, and they’re all good. We are going with another speed play: 11-Serengeti Empress, who starts for Tom Amoss. She is another runner who can dominate a race when she is able to dictate the pace, as she did winning last year’s Kentucky Oaks in wire-to-wire fashion. She is in good form, having run well in both her races this year, including a win in the slop last in the Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn, and we expect her to win this race on the front end as well. Speed is always dangerous, and Serengeti Empress has the most speed in this field. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 10, $50 to win on 11-Serengeti Empress.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, 4:00 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This first-level allowance drew a field of eight filles and mares. We’re expecting a hot pace, and a winner coming from just off it, which makes 2-My Girl Annie the pick. She just missed at this level on April 3, finishing second; we think she will move up to the winner’s circle today. Look for her to sit just behind the pacesetters, and to take over at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $30 to win on 2-My Girl Annie.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:53 pm
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
A full field of twelve will go to the post in this tough second-level allowance for older females. We like 7-Mintd, who starts for Brendan Walsh. She’s an Irish-bred 4-year-old who began her career in Ireland, running four races as a 2-year-old, then taking a long break before making her North American debut in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs on March 7. She won that race, and we think she will repeat here. Look for her to be toward the back of the field early, and to run them all down late. We will bet her to win at very juicy 10-1 odds. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Mintd.
Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 5:25 pm ET
Starter Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A motley group of eight sophomore colts goes in the 10th at Gulfstream. We like the horse on the rail, 1-Like You. He has had a peripatetic career, running in both New York and Florida, on dirt and on turf, but he really jumped forward in his last, a win in an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on March 4. That race was at today’s distance, a one-turn mile, and we think that his improvement was was due to a combination of added physical maturity and the additional distance (he’d been running mostly in sprints before that). Having found what he does best, we think a repeat here is very likely: he earned a very good 78 Beyer Speed Figure for that win, and running back to that will put him in the winner’s circle. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 1-Like You.
Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 5:45 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This race, which goes in between the two stakes at Oaklawn today, drew a field of twelve. We’re going with another speed play here, with 6-Break Even, who starts for trainer Brad Cox. She ran a dismal race last out, finishing last in a field of six at Oaklawn Park, but that was in a stakes race, and she set wickedly fast fractions before fading late. Today, against this much more modest group of allowance runners, we expect a much, much different result. Look for her to go right to the front, and from there to control the race all the way around the track. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Break Even.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.