Newly Minted, shown here racing at Aqueduct, is Garrity's pick to win today's $85,000 Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga
Newly Minted, shown here racing at Aqueduct, is Garrity's pick to win today's $85,000 Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga|NYRA

Thursday at the track: Garrity picks the races at Saratoga, including the $85,000 Union Avenue Stakes

First picked race at Saratoga, the 2nd, has a post time of 1:21 pm EDT

Chris Garrity

Saratoga is where the best racing is today, so we’re headed to upstate New York for four Thursday plays. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all four races; let’s go.

Saratoga, Race 2, 1:21 pm EDT

Maiden Special Weight, 5 ½ furlongs, DIrt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

The second race of the day at the Spa has eight juvenile fillies going 5 ½ furlongs on the main track. Outside speed has been the favored running style at Saratoga recently, which should play right into the hands of 8-Malibu Luna, a son of Orb who finished a good fourth, only 2 ½ lengths behind the winner, in his career debut on August 2. He has good speed, and should be able to avoid the rail, which has been bad, from his outside post. We think he wins this one easily for trainer Bill Mott; we will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 2, $35 to win on 8-Malibu Luna.

Saratoga, Race 4, 2:29 pm EDT

Starter Allowance, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

This starter allowance drew ten runners. We like 4-First Rate, who starts for trainer Saffie Joseph. He just missed at this level and at this distance in his last, when he tried stalking what turned out to be a slow pace, and though he tried gamely, he couldn’t overcome a wide trip, and just couldn’t make up ground late. We think he will be much more forwardly placed today, and that will translate to a trip to the winner’s circle. Also: we normally do not pay much attention to jockeys, but we like the fact that top rider Irad Ortiz, who rode him last out, was impressed enough to ride him back today. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 4, $40 to win on 4-First Rate.

Saratoga, Race 8, 4:46 pm EDT

Starter Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

Eight go in this interesting starter allowance on the turf, which is restricted to horses who have started for a claiming price of $50,000 or less at any point in their career. We mention that because the entrant that we like, 6-Bray, was claimed for $40,000 in his last race, and we like the fact that new trainer Rudy Rodriguez entered him here, where he cannot be claimed, rather than in another where he’d be in for a tag. He’s in good form, with both of his races this year being good ones, and he’s got a strong late kick, which should be enough to get him to the winner’s circle. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Bray.

Saratoga, Race 9, 5:17 pm EDT

$85,000 Union Avenue Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, FIllies & Mares 3 & Up

The day’s lone stakes race, at Saratoga or anywhere else, is the Union Avenue, which drew six older females to run seven furlongs on the main track. We are absolutely against 6/5 morning line favorite 1-Ratajkiowski, as we think her post is going to be the kiss of death: she’s almost certain to get pinned against the rail, and on the main track, the rail has been absolutely dead at Saratoga lately. She’s the kind of horse who we will probably look to bet next out, because her effort today will not be as bad as it looks, but today, at a price that will probably be somewhere around even money, she is a massive underlay, and a strong play-against.

The pick is 7/5 second choice 6-Newly Minted: she’s in better recent form than the favorite, and the dynamics of the race, from both a pace and trip standpoint, should favor her pretty significantly. We see her sitting in third, just behind the leaders and well off the rail, and then taking command of the race when the field turns for home. She’s burned a lot of money in her last two starts, losing as the odds-on favorite in each, but we think she will atone today, winning the Union Avenue Stakes, and probably doing so rather comfortably. We will bet her to win, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $50 to win on 6-Newly Minted.

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

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