Racing at Saratoga
Racing at Saratoga|Charles Mann | NYRA

Thursday at Saratoga: Garrity picks 4 races, including the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap and the $85,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes

First post time, the 1st at Saratoga, is 12:50 pm

Chris Garrity

The best racing today, by far, is at Saratoga. There are two stakes on the nine-race card, the first a Grade 1 over the jumps that starts the day, and the second an overnight stakes for dirt sprinters that goes as Race 7. We’ll play both, and two other races as well.

The main track will be fast, and while we’re expecting the turf course, which was listed as good yesterday after a brief but heavy downpour Wednesday morning, to be listed as firm, we think it will still have just a bit of give to it. With that out of the way, let’s go.

Saratoga, Race 1, 12:50 pm ET

Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap, 2 ⅜ miles (Hurdles), Turf, 4 & Up

This is a terrific jump race, with a field of eight that makes this every bit of a Grade 1 affair. FIve of them are coming out of a common race, the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick at Saratoga on July 22, and we think the winner here is one of them, 6-Optimus Prime, who staged a strong late rally to take the lead in the Smithwick, only to get nailed at the wire. Considering that was his first start in over a year, that was a tremendous effort, and we think that he will improve with the additional fitness he developed in that race. Look for him to get a similar trip today, sitting toward the rear early, moving to the front on the last lap around the track. We will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 1, $40 to win on 6-Optimus Prime.

Saratoga, Race 5, 3:02 pm ET

$20,000 Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Seven go in this claiming dirt sprint, and the likeliest winner looks pretty obvious: it’s 6-Leaveuwithasmile, who was claimed for $25,000 by Danny Gargan out of her last race. She has the best last-race speed figure, has good tactical speed, and a coveted outside post, but equally important is that Gargan is a wizard in this spot, with an otherworldly 50% win rate (11-for-22) this year with horses making their first start after a claim.

Leaveuwithasmile figures to win this race at a short price, so to try to extract some value from the race, we will play her on top in an exacta with 2-Lake Chicot, who’s the filly with the most early speed in the race, and will have to use it from her inside post to avoid traffic trouble. We’re expecting Lake Chicot to be in front early, with Leaveuwithasmile right on her flank, and for the latter to win the race, but the former to hold on for second. We will bet them in in the exacta in that order. The bet: Saratoga, Race 5, $20 exacta, 6 (Leaveuwithasmile) with 2 (Lake Chicot).

Saratoga, Race 7, 4:12 pm ET

$85,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

The Tale of the Cat drew a short field of five, and we’re all in on the favorite, 2-Stan the Man. He’s been running against much, much tougher, and his last race, a good second in the Grade 2 True North Stakes at Belmont Park, stands head and shoulders above what the rest of the field has done. He simply looks better than the rest, and while he’s a relatively short price, we believe that there is value in every winner. We will bet him to win at 7/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 7, $50 to win on 2-Stan the Man.

Saratoga, Race 8, 4:46 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Seven go in this first-level allowance turf sprint for state-breds. The pace in these 5 ½ furlong races on the grass at Saratoga is usually very, very quick, but we don’t think that will be the case here, as most of the runners in the field don’t have much early speed. That has us looking for a horse to steal the race on the front end, and that makes the pick 6-Quality Stones. She is very quick, and should be able to get to the front without expending too much effort, and from there, to set the pace while running well within herself. We think she will be in front turning for home, and we think the field may have a tough time catching her, and because she’s never run on the grass before, we get square odds of 12-1. We will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Saratoga, Race 8, $25 to win/$15 to place on 6-Quality Stones.

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

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