Sistercharlie returns to Saratoga as a likely heavy favorite, so, of course, Garrity is betting against her.
Sistercharlie returns to Saratoga as a likely heavy favorite, so, of course, Garrity is betting against her.|NYRA
Thoroughbreds

Garrity's Saturday Stakes! The Ballston Spa & Vanderbilt at Saratoga, the Irish War Cry at Monmouth, and San Clemente & San Diego at Del Mar

Garrity's first post is at 2:18 pm EDT.

Chris Garrity

There’s a good lineup of stakes races across the country this afternoon, and we have plays in five of them. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races. Let’s go.

Saratoga, Race 3, 2:18 pm ET

Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

The headliner among the six entered in the Ballson Spa is 2/5 favorite 5-Sistercharlie, who has had a terrific career for trainer Chad Brown: she’s hit the board in 14 of her 15 starts, and won 10 of them, including an incredible seven Grade 1 stakes. If we were thrown in jail today, and the only way we could get out was to pick a winner, the horse we’d probably pick is Sistercharlie. .

But betting is about more than picking winners -- it’s about making money -- and there are reasons to think that Sistercharlie, for all her past laurels, may be vulnerable here: She’s coming off a long layoff, having last run in November, when she was a disappointing third as the odds-on favorite in the Breeders Cup Fillly & Mare Turf, and she’s now six years old, and it’s only natural to wonder if she may have lost a step. She’s going to be something like 1/10, and there is nothing wrong with taking a shot against a horse at that price.

We will do so with 1-Call Me Love, who runs for Christophe Clement. She ran in Italy last year, and should be rounding into form, as this is her third North American start, and third start of the year. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 3, $20 to win on 1-Call Me Love.

Monmouth Park, Race 9, 4:32 pm ET

$75,000 Irish War Cry Handicap, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

Nine go in the Irish War Cry at the Jersey shore, and it’s a race that pace handicappers will love, because there’s so much early speed in the field that a suicidal early pace is a virtually certainty: we think the pace will be so fast that it cooks not only the frontrunners, but the stalkers, the horses just behind them, as well. Even on Monmouth’s turf course, which is more speed-favoring than the norm, we think the winner will be coming from far, far back.

The pick is 6-Desperado. He’s a confirmed stretch-runner, and though his figures are marginal, we think he’s going to get the best setup of his life today, being able to gallop early, and pass exhausted horses late. He may never get this kind of trip again in his life, but we think he’s live today, and live at juicy 8-1 odds. We will bet him to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 6-Desperado.

Saratoga, Race 10, 6:16 pm ET

Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

The Vanderbilt is one of the top dirt sprints of the year, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to see that it drew just five runners. The flip side to the short field is that they’re all good: These are some fast horses.

The main track at Saratoga has been fair the past few days, but forwardly-placed horses have had an edge: It’s been difficult for come-from-behinders to make a charge. Stalkers, horses just off the early speed, have won most of the races, and that makes favored 4-Volatile just about a cinch here. He’s a lightly-raced 4-year-old whose form is pretty close to the embodiment of handicapping perfection: He’s won four of his five starts, and every race has been better, and faster, than the last. We do not expect him to improve on his last start, when he earned a big 112 Beyer Speed Figure winning an overnight stakes, but we do expect him to come close to repeating it. He’s got high early speed, and his outside position will give jockey Ricardo Santana the option of taking the lead, or sitting just off it. Either way, we see a trip to the winner’s circle for Volatile. At 4/5 on the morning line, he’s not going to make anyone rich -- but sports bettors take similar odds betting point spreads, and so will we here. We will bet Volatile to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 10, $50 to win on 4-Volatile.

Del Mar, Race 9, 9:00 pm ET

Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Ten sophomore fillies line up to go a mile on the Del Mar turf in the San Clemente. We like one who’s a price: 4-Over Attached has run five times, four of them in France, and we think her last race was better than it looked, as she closed to finish second in an allowance race at Santa Anita on June 12. We think she should move forward off that race, and that makes her a big threat at very nice odds of 15-1. Look for her to sit midpack early, and be rolling late. We will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Del Mar, Race 9, $30 to win/$10 to place on 4-Over Attached.

Del Mar, Race 10, 9:30 pm ET

Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

The headliner here, and the even-money morning line favorite, is 5-Maximum Security, who famously finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified. We think he’s a bet-against, as he’s coming off a layoff, his last race was in Saudi Arabia, and most important, he makes his first start since being removed from the barn of Jason Servis, who is under federal indictment for allegedly doping horses. Playing against ex-Servis horses has been a very profitable angle since he was arrested in March, and his stable dispersed.

We like 2-Ax Man, who starts for Bob Baffert. A bunch of the other contenders are shortening up here after running in longer races, and we think that Ax Man, who has primarily been a sprinter, will get the jump on them, be able to get the lead at the top of the stretch, and hold off the closers. We also like his last race, when he pressed a very fast pace to win by a nose. We think he looks poised for a big effort today, and with Maximum Security certain to be bet heavily, we think we will get something close to his 8-1 morning line price. We will bet him to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 10, $40 to win on 2-Ax Man.

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

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