Garrity's first post is at 3:28 pm EDT.
Perhaps the biggest day of horse racing all summer is tomorrow, when Saratoga puts on a stakes-rich card highlighted by the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers. In advance of that, we will play a couple of races at both Del Mar and Saratoga, each of which has a stakes race for juveniles. We have three plays at the Spa, two in Southern California, and we expect fast dirt in all main track races, good turf at Saratoga, and firm grass at Del Mar. Let’s go.
Saratoga, Race 5, 3:28 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This second-level allowance dirt sprint drew a field of eight. The main track at Saratoga favored speed yesterday, and we are expecting that trend to continue, which makes 7-Skamania the pick. She’s a speedy 5-year-old mare trained by Albert Stall, and if she breaks cleanly, she should go right to the front from her outside post, and never look back. We also like her last race, when she chased a very, very fast pace, and still held on for third. She’s live, she’s fit, and she should benefit from the way the track is playing. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 5, $35 to win on 7-Skamania.
Saratoga, Race 8, 5:14 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Eight state-bred females line up for this first-level allowance at a mile on the grass. In contrast to the main track, the turf at the Spa yesterday favored come-from-behinders, and that is another trend we expect to continue today, which makes 5-Giacosa a strong play. She is by far the best late runner in the field, and should get a good, ground-saving trip from her inside post. Look for her to sit back early, and be flying late. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Giacosa.
Saratoga, Race 9, 5:46 pm ET
Grade 2 Saratoga Special, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
We frequently play stalkers and closers in these juvenile stakes races, as a lot of 2-year-olds can win maiden races by virtue of their superior early speed, but can falter when they try to carry that speed over longer distances. We will not be doing that here, however, as horses trying to make up ground on the Saratoga dirt have been spinning their wheels. Until the track changes, there are three things we’re looking for in dirt sprints: speed, speed, and more speed.
That makes this race rather easy to handicap, as the colt with the highest last-race Beyer Speed Figure is also the colt with the most early speed: it’s 9-Therideofalifetime, who starts for Ignacio Correas. We’d probably like him under any circumstances, but add that he will be ridden by top jockey Irad Ortiz, and that he gets an advantageous outside post position, and we’re all in: we think he will win this race in wire-to-wire fashion. We will bet him to win, and as we think his 4-1 odds are generous, we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $50 to win on 9-Therideofalifetime.
Del Mar, Race 7, 8:00 pm ET
Starter Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A deep field of ten goes in this starter allowance for females. We like 4-Goodtingscominpink, a 4-year-old mare who starts for trainer Vladimir Cerin. She broker her maiden two back, against a pretty good Maiden Special Weight field at Santa Anita, and backed that up with a good third in an allowance on June 5. The competition here is much, much less than she has been running against, and we think this is going to be like a high school basketball player who can’t get on the floor when the varsity plays, but suits up for a JV game and scores 30 points. Look for her to stalk, to sit just behind the first flight of horses early, and to move to the front at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Goodtingscominpink.
Del Mar, Race 8, 8:30 pm ET
Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
The fields of juvenile stakes races this time of year are usually populated by entrants coming off impressive maiden wins, and separating the contenders from the non-contenders is usually an exercise in assessing how well a colt or filly ran in a maiden race. We mention that because the maiden wins at most of these seven entrants do not impress us at all. They’re all slow, as is evidenced by the fact that 2-September Secret is the 2-1 morning line favorite after earning a 68 Beyer Speed Figure in a $50,000 maiden claiming race -- that’s right, the favorite in a Grade 2 stakes is coming out of a maiden claimer.
The slow prep races is making us do something that we can’t recall ever doing before: We are picking a first-time starter in a stakes race. It’s 1-Get on the Bus, who goes for trainer Doug O’Neill. He’s by Uncle Mo, who is good with debut runners, as is O’Neill, and he also has a solid string of morning works. But what we really like about him is that he is not going to need to be the second coming of Swaps to win this: All he has to do is be better than a bunch of slow horses. We think he will be, and will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Get on the Bus.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.