Friday at the track: Garrity goes to Keeneland and Del Mar to pick a pair of stakes and the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile
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Friday at the track: Garrity goes to Keeneland and Del Mar to pick a pair of stakes and the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile

First post is 4:24 pm EDT

With Tropical Storm Fay walloping the mid-Atlantic and New England today, we are looking South and West for fairer skies, both meteorological and pari-mutuel. Fortunately, that direction is where the best action today is anyway: it’s opening day at Del Mar, and Keeneland has a couple of good graded stakes races. We’ve handicapped for fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below. Let’s go.

Keeneland, Race 7, 4:24 pm EDT

Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Even though there are only six fillies going to the gate in the Beaumont, it’s a fascinating race to handicap. The 7/5 morning line favorite, 2-Speech, has one lifetime win (and four consecutive runner-up finishes), and while the speed figures she earned in those races are good, whatever edge she has over the other runners appears to be small, far, far less than her odds would suggest. At a short-price, Speech is a stone-cold play-against.

We like 5-Sconsin. There’s a of speed in the group, and it’s evenly matched -- the speed horses are all about equally fast, which means no filly will establish a clear, comfortable early lead, causing a contested pace, and tired front-runners down the stretch. Sconsin has done her best running sitting just behind these kinds of pace duels and making a winning move on the far turn and/or at the top of the stretch. We see a similar result today, and that means Sconsin becoming a graded stakes winner. We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Sconsin.

Keeneland, Race 8, 4:57 pm EDT

Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up

This is a rare Friday Grade 1 race, and it’s a good one, with ten older turf horses lining up to go a mile on the Keeneland turf course. After heavy rains on Thursday, the grass course at Keeneland was listed as good midday on Friday, and that makes the race an easy one, we think: we’d probably have liked 9/5 favorite 4-Raging Bull on firm going, but he’s run some very good races in the past over ground with a bit of cut to it, and he should thrive on the going this afternoon. This is not a pick that is going to make anyone rich, but as we think there is value in every winner, we’ll bet Raging Bull to win. He’s got one of the most devastating late kicks in North American turf racing right now, so look for him to be toward the rear, and flying down the stretch. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $50 to win on 4-Raging Bull.

Del Mar, Race 9, 9:05 pm EDT

$100,000 Runhappy Oceanside Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

It’s opening day at Del Mar, and while the lack of spectators will make it unlike any other day in the history of the track, it is good to see that during a pandemic, they are able to card races, even in front of an empty grandstand.

The Oceanside, Del Mar’s traditional opening day stakes race, came up deep and evenly matched, with a good field of twelve 3-year-old colts going to the post. We like 7-Hit the Road, who had a good campaign as a juvenile last year, and who made his seasonal debut winning an allowance race at Santa Anita on May 22. A repeat of that performance might be good enough to win this, but we think he’s actually going to move forward, as he should improve in his second start off a long layoff, and with additional time to mature physically. Look for him to be mid-pack early and moving late. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Hit the Road.

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

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