Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita and Churchill Downs
For the first time in what feels like ten years, we can say that today, there really is action from coast to coast. Horse racing as a sport is not all the way back, as the New York tracks are still dark, but with Churchill Downs now open, we're getting close.
And this is also the first Saturday in what feels like a long time with a goodly number of stakes races: there are three at Gulfstream, and two at Santa Anita. We will cover four of the five, plus two races at Churchill. We are expecting fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except at Gulfstream, which saw heavy rain the past 36 hours, and while we think the dirt will get all the way back to fast by this afternoon, the turf should have some give in it. Let’s go.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
A full field of twelve goes in the 8th at Churchill, a first-level allowance at a mile on the turf. We like 4-Tankerville, a 4-year-old colt making his first North American start after three races in Ireland last year. He should be able to save ground from his inside post, sit midpack, and move to the front when the field turns for home. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Tankerville.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:52 pm ET
$75,000 Powder Break Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Eleven are entered in the Powder Break, but one is a main-track-only runner, so ten will go to the post if this race stays on the turf. The headliner is 9/5 favorite 10-Got Stormy, who won multiple Grade 1 stakes last year.
We’re assuming this will be run on grass, but that the turf course at Gulfstream will be soft, either yielding or good, and that makes 1-Noor Sahara the pick to beat Got Stormy and to win the race. She’s a European import who will make her North American debut, and we think she will love the going at Gulfstream today, as she did her best running in France last year on turf with give in it. Look for her to sit toward the rear early, and move around the far turn. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Noor Sahara.
Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 5:24 pm ET
$100,000 Musical Romance Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Florida-bred Fillies & Mares, 3 & Up
The field of the Musical Romance came up strong, with nine talented state-bred females going to the post. 7-Lady’s Island is the 7/5 favorite, and while she’s had a great career, she’s 6 now, and seems to have lost a step. At a short price, we are going to try to beat her.
The pick is 2-Bellera, who goes for Todd Pletcher. She’s a 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini who won two straight stakes races to end her most recent campaign, and comes off a layoff today, having last run in January. We think the freshening will do her good, and that she will be ready to run today. Look for her to press the pace and move to the front at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 2-Bellera.
Churchill Downs, Race 10, 5:44 pm ET
Allowance, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
A full field of twelve goes in this, an allowance for sophomore fillies. 2-Portrait is a strong play: she’s cutting back in distance, having run a mile and a sixteenth in her last, and while she was competitive at longer distances, we think the 7 furlong distance of this race is just about perfect for her. We expect her to stalk the pacesetters and take over at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 10, $40 to win on 2-Portrait.
Santa Anita, Race 6, 6:06 pm ET
$150,000 Echo Eddie Stakes, 6 furlongs, California-bred 3-Year-Olds
Nine go in the Echo Eddie. We like the favorite, 8-Big Sweep. He has only one career start, but it was a good one: he won his career debut in wire-to-wire fashion, earning a big speed figure. He’s got a big edge in early speed, a tactically advantageous outside post; look for him to go right to the front, and stay there all the way around the track. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 6, $40 to win on 8-Big Sweep.
Santa Anita, Race 8, 7:08 pm ET
$150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes, 6 furlongs, California-bred 3-Year-Old Fillies
The Evening Jewel Stakes is the female counterpart of the Echo Eddie, and it drew a field of ten. We like 2-Bella Vita, who starts for trainer Simon Callaghan. She is lightly raced, with two wins in three career starts, and while those three races were all on turf, both her dirt-oriented pedigree and her speedy running style make us think that she will thrive running on traditional dirt. Look for her to be just behind the first flight of horses early, to gain ground on the far turn, and move to the front in mid-stretch. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $30 to win on 2-Bella Vita.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.