Garrity's race card post times go from 4:53 pm to 4:40 am EDT
There are three stakes in North America today, but there are also three Group 1 races overnight in Hong Kong, where the sensational Hong Kong Champions Day card will be run at Sha Tin Racecourse. We will take a look at all these races, and throw in one other non-stakes race at Gulfstream as well
The weather looks mostly dry in both Arkansas and South Florida, so we’ve handicapped all races there for fast dirt (the American races we’ve selected today are all on conventional dirt). We’re also expecting firm turf in Hong Kong, but we will remind readers to check the actual going prior to post time, as the conditions can change, frequently very quickly, and we are writing this many hours in advance of the races. With that out of the way, let’s go.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:53 pm ET
$75,000 Unbridled Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The Unbridled drew a field of seven 3-year-old colts. The hot favorite is 3-Dr Post, a Todd Pletcher trainee who broke his maiden going seven furlongs on the Gulfstream main track on March 29. He’s 8/5 on the morning line, but will likely be shorter, perhaps much shorter, at post time. He may be a runner, but his maiden win, while fast, was not all that visually impressive, and we are going to take a shot against him.
The pick is the horse on the outside, 7-Attachment Rate, who goes for Dale Romans. He’s well-bred, by Hard Spun out of an Afleet Alex mare, and he’s got the kind of race record we like to see in a young horse, with each race being better than the last, and of particular importance that he has improved as the races have gotten longer. He finished third last out in the Gotham at Aqueduct, but we think that race is better than it appears, as he showed a lot of heart rallying into the Gotham’s very slow pace. We think Attachment Rate will be better going around two turns than he was in the one-turn Gotham, and at 3-1, we think he is a much better wagering prospect than the favorite. We will bet him to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Attachment Rate.
Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 5:45 pm ET
$100,000 Bachelor Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Nine drew into the Bachelor. It’s a good group, with the headliner being 7-Eight Rings, who starts for Bob Baffert and who was one of the top juveniles in the country last year, winning the American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita, which was good enough for him to be a top choice in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, where he did a speed-and-fade to finish 6th as the 3/2 second choice. The Juvenile was his last race, which means that Eight Rings comes into the Bachelor off a layoff of nearly six months. Eight Rings is an obviously talented colt, but he figures to be a very short price today, and there are two questions that a handicapper must answer about him: The first is whether he will be fully cranked for this race, and the second is whether he will be able to compete with some very fast horses at the six furlong distance of the Bachelor. We think the answer to both questions is no, so we will be looking elsewhere for the winner.
We like 9-Long Weekend. He starts for Tom Amoss, who has been hot, and while that is good, Long Weekend has two things that we think are more important than a hot trainer: He has a big edge in early speed, and he has an outside post position that will allow him to make the most of that tactical advantage. He’s won his last two races by going to the front and leading all the way; both those races were at today’s six furlong distance, and we expect a repeat in the Bachelor. Look for him to establish a clear, comfortable early lead, and to win the race by daylight on the front end. We will bet him to win at 3-1, and will bet him in the Double (see below) comprising races 9 and 10. The bets: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 9-Long Weekend; $25 double, 9 (Long Weekend) with 1 (Bellafina). .
Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 5:57 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
This is a very tough third-level allowance dirt sprint for older horses. We would normally expect to see stakes-level runners in a race like this, and the field of nine does not disappoint, as seven come into this having last run in a stakes race, and eight have stakes experience. Somewhat curiously, the morning line favorite is 2-Soldado, who is the lone entrant yet to run in a stakes race, but who is 2-1 off his two fast allowance wins.
We like 5-Global Campaign, and we like him quite a bit. He’s a colt making his debut as a 4-year-old, but who had a pretty good campaign at three: he won the Peter Pan at Belmont, and finished third in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. He’s been away since the Jim Dandy, which was in July, and while he will have to shake off some rust today, he looks to us like the runner in the field with the most upside. He’s trained by Stanley Hough, who has been hot recently, and his recent morning workout pattern has been very good. We think he’s very live, and at 6-1, we will bet him to win. Look for him to sit midpack, behind the pace, and to make a move on the top of the stretch: we think he’s sitting on a big one today. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $50 to win on 5-Global Campaign.
Oaklawn Park, Race 10, 6:16 pm ET
$125,000 Carousel Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Two races after 3-year-old colts go six furlongs, twelve older females will go the same distance. The morning line favorite is 1-Bellafina, who looks to be the class of this field. Six furlongs is probably shorter than her best distance, but she looks to be so much better than the other runners that she should win anyway. She’s 8/5 on the morning line, and if we thought we could get that price, we’d bet our lungs; since she will be shorter at post time, probably around even money, we will be more prudent: we will still bet her to win, but not quite so aggressively. The bet; Oaklawn Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 1-Bellafina.
At Sha Tin, the three races that highlight the Champions Day card are as follows:
Race 5: Hong Kong Sprint, 6 furlongs, 3 & Up, Post Time 2:50 am ET
Race 7: Hong Kong Champions Mile, 1 mile, 3 & Up, Post Time 4:00 am ET
Race 8: Hong Kong QEII Cup, 1 ¼ miles, 3 & Up, Post Time 4:40 am ET
All are Group 1, and all are on turf.
We will mention one pertinent idiosyncrasy about these races: Shippers are not an issue in any of them this year. Races of this caliber -- all are truly world-class -- normally attract horses from all over, from Japan, Europe, and in particular Australia, but because of the coronavirus quarantine in Hong Kong, only horses stabled at Sha Tin can run in them. This makes handicapping these races particularly interesting, at least to us, because all horses have been racing in the same place, and we are not required to compare races from different tracks.
In the Sprint, the top contenders are all speed horses, and that makes us look for a horse who can come from just off the pace. We like 9-Big Time Baby, an Irish-bred 6-year-old gelding. He’s been in excellent form recently, winning his last race in very fast time, and he should get a good stalking trip here. He’s 10-1, and may be even higher at post time; we will bet him to win. The bet: Sha Tin, Race 5, $25 to win on 9-Big Time Baby.
The Champions Mile drew a field of fourteen. But we didn’t have to go very far to find the pick: it’s 1-Beauty Generation, a New Zealand-bred 7-year-old gelding who is in the best form of his life. He won the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy on April 5, against many of the horses he will face today, and he did so with almost condescending ease: The margin may have only been a half length, but appeared to be in total command, seeming to run only as much as needed to hit the wire first. We expect a repeat today, and will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Sha Tin, Race 7, $30 to win on 1-Beauty Generation.
The QEII Cup is a great race, and this year’s edition drew only seven runners, but they make up in quality what they lack in quantity, with several highly accomplished older turf horses among them. We like 6-Playa del Puente, an Irish-bred 4-year-old gelding with a Spanish name, on top. He’s run against Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty in each of his last three races, finishing second last out, a half-length behind Golden Sixty, in the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby on March 22. He seems to be a horse on the improve, and with Golden Sixty not in the field today, we think he will win. We bet him to win at 17/2. The bet: Sha Tin, Race 8, $35 to win on 6-Playa del Puente.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe ,and, as always, good luck at the windows.