In this Friday, May 22, 2020 photo, jockeys wearing face masks ride in the first horse race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Horse racing returned to the track after being idled for one and a half months because of public health officials' concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
In this Friday, May 22, 2020 photo, jockeys wearing face masks ride in the first horse race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Horse racing returned to the track after being idled for one and a half months because of public health officials' concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. |Ashley Landis | Associated Press
Thoroughbreds

Sunday sixpack of picks from Garrity: Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, and Golden Gate Fields

We’ll go from coast to coast — and we will note that we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all six races. First post is 4:40 pm EDT.

Chris Garrity

With no stakes races on the calendar today, we’re going to do an exercise in speed dating, Sport of Kings style: we’ll play six races, all of which take place in just under two hours. We’ll go from coast to coast to do it, and we will note that we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all six races. Let’s go.

Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET

Allowance, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This non-winners of one allowance drew a field of eleven. We’re expecting a hot pace, which makes 1-Charming Lady the pick. A 3-year-old from the Tom Amoss barn, she has run four times, and every race has been better than the last. Further improvement today will put her in the winner’s circle, especially since the fast pace will favor her stalking running style. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $35 to win on 1-Charming Lady.

Santa Anita, Race 4, 5:07 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Ten females will line up for this maiden race. We like a first-time starter, 4-Wind and Hope, and we like her quite a bit: she’s a regally-bred 3-year-old filly, by superstar sire Tapit, and out of a Giant’s Causeway mare; she’s trained by Simon Callaghan, who is excellent with firsters and on the turf; and she gets the services of jockey Flavien Prat, who is white-hot right now (he won three races at Santa Anita yesterday, and last Sunday, won a mind-boggling six). We think the stars are aligned for Wind and Hope today, so we will bet her to win, and will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $50 to win on 4-Wind and Hope.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 5:12 pm ET A

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Twelve go in this second-level allowance turf route. The pick is 1-Mercilla, who makes her debut as a 4-year-old for trainer Graham Motion. She spent most of last year running, and running fairly well, in stakes races, and dropping to this allowance level should be very much to her liking. She will be toward the rear of the field early and flying late. Motion is good with horses coming off layoffs, and turf ace Javier Castellano is up to ride. Look out. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Mercilla.

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 5:24 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

This first-level allowance on the grass drew a full field of twelve. We like 2-Willing to Speed: this 4-year-old from the John Kimmel barn is rounding into form nicely, with four starts since January 1, all of them good. He won his last start, a starter allowance at a mile, and he should get a good, ground-saving trip from his inside post position. Look for him to sit just behind the pacesetters, and to grind his way to the front down the stretch. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $30 to win on 2-Willing to Speed.

Santa Anita, Race 6, 6:12 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

This is another first-level allowance on the grass. It drew a field of eight. We like 3-Turn on the Switch. He broke his maiden two back, then finished fifth in his last start, his first against winners, on February 23. In that race, he unexpectedly found himself on the lead when nobody else wanted it, and we think that this threw him off a bit, as he’d done his best running previously while coming from behind. He will not get the lead today, but should get a good stalking trip, just behind the leaders, where he can mount a strong stretch run. We think he can beat this modest group, and will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 6, $30 to win on 3-Turn the Switch.

Golden Gate Fields, Race 8, 7;34 pm ET

Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

For a nightcap, the final can in our Memorial Day weekend six-pack, we go to Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California, where eight line up for an allowance race on the turf. We like 7-Hootie, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Mike McCarthy. Hootie last ran at Santa Anita in February, where he won a tough $35,000 conditioned claimer on the turf, and we think he’s going to find the shallower waters up north, which are several rungs lower than in Southern California, much to his liking. McCarthy is hot right now, winning with 33% of his starters at the current Golden Gate meet, and that’s good enough for us. Look for Hootie to sit mid-pack early, move to the front at the top of the stretch, and hold off the closers. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Golden Gate, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Hootie.

That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, which will be a spectacular day, with special Memorial Day cards around the country, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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