Empire of War, Garrity's pick to win the 3rd at Saratoga today, shown racing at Belmont in 2018
Empire of War, Garrity's pick to win the 3rd at Saratoga today, shown racing at Belmont in 2018|NYRA

Thursday at the track: Garrity picks 4 races at Saratoga, including the $85,000 Smart N Fancy Stakes

First picked race, the 2nd at Saratoga, has a post time of 1:44 pm EDT

Chris Garrity

We have four plays today, all from Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York, which has a good nine-race card this afternoon. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races. Let’s go.

Saratoga, Race 2, 1:44 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 3/16 miles, Turf, FIllies & Mares 3 & Up

Six 3-year-old fillies line up to go a mile and three-sixteenths on the sod in this maiden heat. It’s the kind of race that makes Saratoga so special: all six look exceptionally good, with top-notch trainers and outstanding pedigrees, and we just don’t see fields of this stature at very many other tracks. An indication of the quality of the runners is that the longest shot in the field, first-time starter 4-Ceant, is by top stallion Uncle Mo, and was purchased for $249,000 at the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale in 2018. It’s a pretty tough group when a quarter-million dollar filly is the rank outsider at 10-1 on the morning line.

With so many good pedigrees to choose from, we are going with the runner with the most glittering one, as least for running on grass: it’s morning line favorite 6-All Others Follow, an English-bred filly by superstar Irish turf sire Sea the Stars, out of an unraced Dansili mare. This is breeding on both sides to go long on the grass, and with three starts under her belt, including a good second in a shorter race at Monmouth on July 17, she looks ready to break her maiden today. The pace of this race should be slow, possibly even very slow, so look for All Others Follow to sit just behind the pacesetters, and to win with a strong move at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 2, $40 to win on 6-All Others Follow.

Saratoga, Race 3, 2:20 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

This tough non-winners-of-three allowance drew a field of seven older horses. Most of them have zero early speed, so we’re going with the horse we think is going to get the lead by default, 7-Empire of War. He’s a 4-year-old in good form, having won an allowance in his last start at Keeneland in July, and his human connections, trainer Mike Maker and jockey Tyler Gafflione, are solid. We think he has a good chance to win this race in wire-to-wire fashion, a good enough chance that a win bet at 8-1 is the right play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 3, $30 to win on 7-Empire of War.

Saratoga, Race 7, 4:41 pm ET

$85,000 Smart N Fancy Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Speed has been good in these Saratoga turf sprints, so we’re going with a pure speed play here, in the form of 7-Peaceful. She’s been in front early in each of her last two races, both of which, just like the Smart N Fancy, were turf sprints, and we so no reason why she won’t be in front today. We think she gets the early lead quite comfortably, and from there wires this field, and does so at 5-1 odds that we find juicy. We will bet her to win, and in the Double that comprises Races 7 and 8 (see below for Race 8 analysis). The bets: Saratoga, Race 7, $25 to win on 7-Peaceful; $15 double, 7 (Peaceful) with 2 (Texas Swing).

Saratoga, Race 8, 5:14 pm ET

Allowance, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

A field of six goes in this first-level allowance race at nine furlongs on the main track. It looks to us like morning line favorite 2-Texas Swing is going to have to fall down to lose: he’s run around two turns on dirt twice, and both were good efforts, a maiden win at Tampa Bay Downs in February, and an even better third in the Tampa Bay Derby, a race he was probably not completely ready for, on March 7. He has superior speed figures, and seems to be the controlling speed of this race; when one horse has both of those, look out. We will bet him to win at 7/5, and we will do so with gusto. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $50 to win on 2-Texas Swing.

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

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