Garrity's first post is 3:59 pm EDT.
This feels like the first Saturday in a long, long time where the national simulcasting schedule is loaded with stakes races. There are four stakes at Belmont Park, three at Gulfstream, two at Churchill Downs, and a mind-boggling seven at Santa Anita. If you’re looking for a way to keep a Thoroughbred handicapper off the streets, hand him a copy of today’s print edition of the Daily Racing Form. We cannot cover all these races, of course, but we will cover four of them, two at Belmont and two at Santa Anita.
Santa Anita will be fast and firm, but a goodly amount of rain fell on Long Island overnight. Just before noon Saturday, Belmont Park listed the main track as muddy, and the turf course as good. Our two plays at Belmont are both in grass races, and the turf at Belmont will have some give in it for both of them. Let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 6, 3:59 pm ET
Grade 2 Fort Marcy Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
Nine go in the Fort Marcy, and the soft turf changes the complexion of the race quite a bit. Trainer Chad Brown starts four of the nine, and we like one of them, 4-Flop Shot, mostly because of the going. He’s coming off a long layoff and making his North American debut this afternoon, having last raced at Deauville in France in August, but he won a Group 3 stakes last year, and it was at this nine-furlong distance, and it was on a soft turf course. He should relish the going, and should relish the distance, and we think he’s going to stamp himself a horse to be reckoned with in stakes races the rest of this summer. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 6, $40 to win on 4-Flop Shot.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 5:04 pm ET
Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes, 7 furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
The field for the Intercontinental came up deep and tough: after scratches, ten will go to the starting gate. We like another Brown runner here, 5-Newspaperofrecord, who makes her 2020 debut this afternoon. She looked like a potential superstar as a 2-year-old, winning all three of her races, including the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, by big margins, but had a disappointing campaign last year, going winless in three starts. We think her issue is distance: in races up to a mile, she’s undefeated; in races longer than a mile, she’s winless. This 7 furlong distance should suit her perfectly. She has won most of her races on the front end, but does not absolutely need the lead to win; she’ll need to be able to stalk today, as the horse to her outside, 6-Jakarta, is a mortal lock to have the early lead. We see Newspaperofrecord sitting just behind Jakarta, getting first run on her down the stretch, moving clear, and holding off the come-from-behinders. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Newspaperofrecord.
Santa Anita, Race 9, 7:42 pm ET
$150,000 Cinema Stakes, 1 1/18 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The Cinema drew a field of seven. We like the favorite, the Jeff Mullins-trained 7-Hariboux. His last, a win in the Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita, was the best race any colt in the field has run, and we think he will get a similar setup today, biding his time toward the rear of the field and making a big run late. He should thrive at this nine-furlong distance, which gives him the edge over the rest of the field, many of whom appear to have distance limitations. We will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Santa Anita Race 9, $35 to win on 7-Hariboux.
Santa Anita, Race 10, 8:12 pm ET
Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, 1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
The Hollywood Gold Cup has as rich a history as just about any race out there. It was run for many, many years, of course, at Hollywood Park, where all-time greats like Seabiscuit, Swaps, and Native Diver won it. There may not be a horse of that caliber in the 2020 field, but it’s still a Grade 1 at a mile and a quarter, the classic distance for American dirt racing.
We like 2-Midcourt. He’s a 5-year-old gelding who has rewarded trainer John Shirrefs for his patience, as he’s a late-bloomer who did not break his maiden until June of his 4-year-old season, but since then has five wins in seven starts, winning major stakes like the Native Diver and the San Pasqual. He disappointed last out, when he lost the Santa Anita Handicap at 7-10 odds, but we think he rebounds today, and does so in a big way. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 10, $40 to win on 2-Midcourt.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.