Garrity's first post is 2:18 p.m.
It’s the heart of summer, and there is so much top-notch racing today that it almost makes us forget the pandemic: Saratoga has two graded stakes, and Monmouth Park has a massive card, with a sextet of stakes, five of them graded, headlined by a pair of Grade 1 races, the United Nations, one of our favorite races of the summer, and the Grade 1 Haskell, which drew a pretty strong field of seven 3-year-old colts. It’s a great day to be a horseplayer.
It will be hot everywhere, and we expect fast dirt in all the races on the main track. We also expect firm turf in all races except at Saratoga, where rain Thursday night has the turf course listed as good as of Saturday morning. Let’s go.
Saratoga, Race 3, 2:18 pm ET
Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The day’s stakes actions starts early at the Spa, where this turf stakes for sophomore colts drew a good field of six. There’s a heavy favorite, 7-Decorated Invader, a Christophe Clement trainee who is even money after winning four of his six career starts. He’s good, but at a short price, we will be lining up to bet against him, as we think his edge in this field is very, very small.
We like 5-Gufo. He’s also trained by Clement, and he’s coming off four consecutive wins, with his last two coming in stakes races. Look for him to sit midpack early, and to finish strongly down the stretch. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 3, $20 to win on 5-Gufo.
Monmouth Park, Race 9, 4:06 pm ET
Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The first order of business in a turf stakes these days is to find the Chad Brown entrants, and in the Matchmaker there are three: 5-Beautiful Lover, 6-Nay Lady Nay, and 7-Tapit Today. They are all good, and all look ready to run, but the one we like the most is Beautiful Lover: he ran last in the Grade 1 Gamely at Santa Anita Park, where he finished a close fourth. That was a good effort, and he faced a tougher field out West than he takes on today. We think he wins here, and we also think that he and his stablemates are going to dominate this race. We will bet Beautiful Lover to win, and we will also box the three Brown horses in the exacta and trifecta. The bets: Monmouth Park, Race 9, $30 to win on 5-Beautiful Lover; $3 exacta box, 5/6/7; $3 trifecta box, 5/6/7. The exacta and trifecta plays will cost $18 each.
Monmouth Park, Race 10, 4:40 pm ET
Grade 3 Monmouth Cup, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
The Monmouth Cup is a good race to handicap, with an evenly matched field of ten older horses. Virtually all of them have run races in the past that would be good enough to win here. The question is which one of them will run that way today.We think the answer is a long shot, 4-Harpers First Ride. He’s a Maryland-based 4-year-old, trained by Claudio Gonzalez, and he’s in the best form of his life, having won his last two starts in allowance races at Laurel Park. He jumps up in class here, but we like the fact that he’s been running well, as many of the other logical contenders, despite more glittering past credentials, are coming off bad races, which makes us question whether they are ready for a top effort this afternoon. We will bet Harpers First RIde to win at 12-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 10, $30 to win on 4-Harpers First Ride.
Monmouth Park, Race 11, 5:10 pm ET
Grade 1 United Nations Stakes, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 3 & Up
Nine go in the United Nations, a race we’ve always loved, even going back to the days when it was run at the old Atlantic City Race Course. We’re going with a price play, 8-Corelli. He is a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old who spent most of his career in England, running against some pretty tough company, and he made his North American debut in a minor stakes at Belmont Park on June 4. He did not win that day, but he did finish a good fourth, and trainer Jonathan Thomas was impressed enough by the effort to bump him up to this Grade 1 spot. He adds blinkers today, which should have him closer to the front, and we think he looks primed for a big effort. Look for him to be toward the rear early, and moving late. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 11, $35 to win on 8-Corelli.
Woodbine, Race 9, 5:28 pm ET
Grade 2 Royal North Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, FIllies & Mares 3 & Up
The Royal North drew a deep field of nine turf females. We like a filly at a huge price, 6-Eyeinthesky, who goes for trainer Mark Casse. The field is filled with fast early/slow late types, which should result in a race shape that favors a closer, and Eyeinthesky is the best stretch-runner in the group. She’s a big price because her recent form is pretty lousy, but we’re betting she can get back to her form from last year, when she won a turf race sprinting on the turf at Saratoga. At 20-1, we will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Woodbine, Race 9, $15 to win/$10 to place on 6-Eyeinthesky.
Monmouth Park, Race 12, 5:46 pm ET
Grade 1 TVG Haskell Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, DIrt, 3-Year-Olds
The headliner of the Haskell is 4/5 morning line favorite 2-Authentic, and though trainer Bob Baffert has had great success in this race in the past -- he’s won the Haskell eight times -- we think Authentic is a stone-cold play-against here, as he’s a speed horse, but will not get an easy trip on the front end, there are two other entrants, 4-Ancient Warrior and 6-Labeda, who have more early speed than him. We think that the pace should set the table for Todd Pletcher’s 1-Dr Post, who should get a dream stalking trip just behind the pacesetters, and be ready to pounce after the three of them finish softening each other up. Dr Post just missed winning a Grade 1 in his last race, when he finished second to Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes; he’s a good horse heading in the right direction, and we think he will not miss today. We will bet him to win at 5/2, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 12, $50 to win on 1-Dr Post.
Saratoga, Race 10, 6:16 pm ET
Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, 1 ⅛ miles, DIrt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
The CCA Oaks drew just six entrants, but they’re all pretty good, and on paper they appear pretty evenly matched. We’re going with a lightly-raced filly, 3-Altaf, partly because she appears to have plenty of upside, but mostly because of pace: we expect the early pace her, despite the short field, to be fast, and that should set the race up for a come-from-behinder. That is Altaf, who has made up a lot of ground in both of her career starts. She won a maiden race in her last start, and going from maiden company to a Grade 1 is an enormous leap in class, but she appears to be an enormously talented filly, and she starts for Chad Brown, who’s been winning everything since Saratoga opened earlier this week. We’ll bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 10, $35 to win on 5-Altaf.
Note: Altaf scratched.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.