Oleksandra, winning the Smart n Fancy last August, races today in the Jaipur against the boys.
Oleksandra, winning the Smart n Fancy last August, races today in the Jaipur against the boys.|NYRA / Elsa Lorieul
Thoroughbreds

Garrity's Saturday Stakes: He picks the 5 stakes races on the Belmont undercard

Garrity's first post is 12:25 pm EDT.

Chris Garrity

The attention of the sporting world will be on Belmont Park today, and while the attention will primarily, and deservedly, be for the Belmont Stakes, there are five stakes on the undercard, three of them Grade 1, that are worthy of attention in their own right. We will take a look at each of them here. We will note that we expect fast dirt and firm turf at Big Sandy. Let’s go.

Belmont Park, Race 2, 12:25 pm ET

Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes, 7 Furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Belmont gets the card off in a major way, with a Grade 1 going as Race 2. Only five are entered, but it’s a talented group. We see a very fast early pace, and that has us backing the longest shot on the board, 5-Shoplifted. We see him last early, sitting well off the suicidally fast early fractions, and moving to the front when the pacesetters tire. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 2, $35 to win on 5-Shoplifted.

Belmont Park, Race 4, 1:42 pm ET

Grade 2 Pennine Ridge Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The fields of the stakes races at Belmont today came up surprisingly small, and the Pennine Ridge is a good example, with just seven 3-year-old colts going to the starting gate. We like the favorite, 1-Decorated Invader, who finished third in last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile turf, and returned from a layoff in March to win a minor stakes race at Gulfstream Park. He rallied from the back of the pack that day, and while finishing strong is always a positive asset in turf racing, he will need to be more forwardly placed today. We think he will be, which means the rest of the field is running for second money. We will bet him to win at 6/5. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 4, $30 to win on 1-Decorated Invader.

Belmont Park, Race 6, 3:01 pm ET

Grade 3 Wonder Again Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Five go in the Wonder Again. The pick of an admittedly weak group is 3-Highland Glory, who starts for Barclay Tagg and will be ridden by Manny Franco, the same team that will send out favored Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes. The pace of this race looks very slow on paper, and Highland Glory should get a forwardly-placed trip, which will give her a tactical advantage over the other runners. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 6, $35 to win on 3-Highland Glory.

Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:15 pm ET

Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Acorn drew a field of seven. Trainer Bob Baffert sends out favored 1-Gamine, who is undefeated in two career starts, with big speed figures in both. She is probably the most likely winner, but at a very short price, we think she’s an underlay, and are consequently looking elsewhere.

We like 4-Casual. The Steve Asmussen trainee has run twice, won twice, and earned an identical Beyer Speed Figures of 90 in both races. When young horses do this -- the sheet players call this a “paired top” -- it can be a powerful sign that they will improve significantly in their next start. We think Casual will improve, as her races up to this point have been sprints, and her breeding suggests that she will thrive at longer distances, including this one-turn mile. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Casual.

Belmont Park, Race 9, 4:53 pm ET

Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up

The Jaipur is a terrific race, and something we don’t see that often: a Grade 1 turf sprint. We’re a sucker for a female taking on the boys, and that’s what we have here: The pick is 2-Oleksandra, who starts for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale. She’s a 6-year-old mare who should get a good trip, sitting behind the first flight of horses and then unleashing her stretch run, which is devastating. We will bet her to win, and beat the boys, at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Oleksandra.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the racing, be safe ,and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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