Thursday at the track: Garrity picks opening day races at Saratoga, including the Schuylerville Stakes and the Peter Pan Stakes
Country Grammer, shown here racing at Aqueduct last year, is Garrity's pick for today's Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes at SaratogaSusie Raisher via NYRA

Thursday at the track: Garrity picks opening day races at Saratoga, including the Schuylerville Stakes and the Peter Pan Stakes

First post, the 7th at Saratoga, is 4:40 pm EDT.

It’s Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course, and though it’s an opener unlike anyone has ever seen, the summer’s first day of racing at the Spa is special under any circumstances. There is a terrific 10-day card in Upstate New York, highlighted by two stakes, and we have three plays. The weather should be just about ideal, the dirt fast, and the turf firm. Let’s go.

Saratoga, Race 7, 4:40 pm EDT

Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Ten state-bred females go 8 ½ furlongs on the grass in this first-level allowance race. A 3-year-old filly with the day’s best name, 9-Summer at the Spa, is a strong play: she’s a strong stretch runner in a field filled with runners with lots of early speed and little stamina. Look for her to sit toward the rear of the field early, and mow ‘em all down late. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 7, $40 to win on 9-Summer at the Spa.

Saratoga, Race 8, 5:14 pm EDT

Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

The Schuylerville is the traditional Opening day stakes race at Saratoga, and in a year when everything has seemed to be turned upside down, it’s nice to see that track management has been able to sustain that tradition. The field is pretty good, too, with eight juvenile fillies going to the gate. We like the one all the way on the outside, 8-Hopeful Princess: she won her debut, a maiden race at Churchill Downs, in very impressive fashion, and it looks like trainer Steve Asmussen has her cranked for this. She has high early speed, which makes the outside post a tactical advantage over the other logical contenders. Look for her to stalk the leaders down the backstretch, move to the front around the far turn, and win a close one down the stretch. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Hopeful Princess.

Saratoga, Race 9, 5:46 pm ET

Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

In a normal year, the Peter Pan is run at Belmont Park, as a prep for the Belmont Stakes, but this year is the featured race at Saratoga. Nine 3-year-old cots line up for the Grade 3 race, and we’re all over one of them, 2-Country Grammer, who we’ve liked all year. He’s winless in his two 2020 starts, but we think that’s more a result of the company he’s been keeping, as he’s run against some of the faster 3-year-olds in the country. This is a much weaker group, and we expect him to run big today. He also looks like a late-bloomer who will thrive over the 9 furlongs of the Peter Pan, which is longer than his prior races. Look for him to be mid-pack early and moving late. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Country Grammer.

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

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