Garrity's first post, the Saratoga Derby Invitational is at 5:07 pm EDT.
There’s a Grade 1 stakes today, the Alabama at Saratoga, and a couple of graded stakes north of the border at Woodbine, but otherwise, the simulcasting slate today, at least as far as stakes races go, is pretty light. We have doped out five plays, at four tracks, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all five races. Let’s go.
Saratoga, Race 8, 5:07 pm ET
$500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational, 1 3/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
This race, a new stakes that was run for the first time last year, drew eight sophomore colts. Closers have been doing well on the Saratoga turf, and trainer Christophe Clement has seemingly been winning everything, and we mention those facts because we like a trainer from the Clement barn: 5-Gufo, who goes for his fifth win in a row. Look for him to sit toward the rear early, and be moving late. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Gufo.
Monmouth Park, Race 10, 5:12 pm ET
$150,000 TVG Pegasus Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The Pegasus drew a field of eight sophomore colts, and it’s a pretty impressive group for an overnight stakes at the Jersey shore. 5/2 morning line favorite 5-Pneumatic figures to get a lot of attention at the windows based on his fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes last out, and we certainly hope so, because every dollar bet on him will increase the odds on our pick, 4-Super John. He’s a John Servis trainee who won his last start, a mile allowance at Delaware Park, very smartly, earning good speed and pace figures. Servis does not enter stakes races for the experience -- he enters when he thinks his horse can win -- and it looks to us like Super John is sitting on a big race. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 4-Super John.
Woodbine, Race 9, 5:22 pm ET
Grade 2 King Edward Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
A good field of eight goes in the King Edward. Mile turf races on Woodbine’s sweeping turf course are run around one turn, rather than two, and we think that is going to contribute to a pretty fast pace, which should set the table for 2-March to the Arch, who starts for trainer Mark Casse. He’s a stretch-running 5-year-old gelding who has been butting heads with very, very tough horses, at the sport’s highest level, and he should relish both the lesser competition here, and the pace setup, which should favor his stretch-running style. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-March to the Arch.
Saratoga, Race 9, 5:43 pm ET
Grade 1 Alabama Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3-YEar-Old Fillies
The Alabama is one of the top dirt races of the year for 3-year-old fillies, and the field reflects it: Seven very good animals line up to run 10 furlongs on the Saratoga main track. None of them has run this far before, so there’s some extrapolation in figuring which one will be able to get the distance. We think it will be 2-Spice is Nice, a Todd Pletcher trainee who should get an ideal trip just behind what looks to be a solid pace. Look for her to stalk the leaders from her inside post position, and move to the front in mid-stretch. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Spice Is Nice.
Del Mar, Race 9, 9:12 pm ET
$125,000 Solana Beach Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, California-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Seven females go a mile in the Solana Beach Stakes. We think the pace will be too hot for a wire-to-wire winner, and the configuration of the Del Mar turf course (short stretch, and rails out) will play against the deep closers, and that makes 4-Mucho Unusual, a 4-year-old filly who runs for trainer Tim Yakteen, the pick. She has been running against much, much tougher -- her last five starts were in either Grade 1 or Grade 2 races -- and dropping in against state-breds is going to be like a high-school basketball player going against grade-schoolers. She should get an ideal trip just behind the first flight of horses, get first jump on the closers turning for home, squirt clear in mid-stretch, and hold the closers at bay late. We will bet her to win at 8/5, and as we think she is the likeliest winner on the day, we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $50 to win on 4-Mucho Unusual.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.