Garrity’s Thursday Stakes picks the Jim McKay, Chick Lang, and Very One at Pimlico and the Joseph A. Gimma at Belmont
It’s the first day of October, which means we’re really moving into the heart of the fall season, at least here in the Eastern U.S. Fall means many things to many people, but in our little horsey corner of the world, it means world-class racing, both in the United States and in Europe. There’s lots of that to look forward to in the coming days, with the Preakness in Baltimore on Saturday and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s biggest race of the year, at Longchamps in Paris on Sunday.
But that is this weekend. Today we have plays in four races, all stakes, one at Belmont Park and three at Pimlico. The weather should be just fine in both New York and Maryland, and we expect fast dirt at both tracks, and good turf at Pimlico. Let’s go.
Pimlico, Race 6, 3:25 pm ET
$100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, 5 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
A field of eight lines up for the JIm McKay. After heavy rains the past few days, the turf at Old Hilltop is listed as good for Thursday’s card, and that is a factor in handicapping the race, as the softer going, plus the presence of absolute speedball 10-Francatelli, who’s one of the fastest horses we’ve seen in a while, has us thinking that the pace is going to be suicidally fast, and the winner will be coming from a bit behind. Deep closers rarely win races this short, so we are looking for a stalker, a horse with enough speed to sit just behind the early leaders, who can pounce when the pacesetters slow down a bit down the stretch.
The pick is 2-Texas Wedge. The race on paper appears to set up just perfectly for him: he’s in good form, he’s got the right running style, and he has proven form on softer turf before, with a very good allowance win at Churchill last fall on a turf course very similar to what he will see today. We see a big run from him today, and a trip to the winner’s circle, so we will bet him to win at 9/5, and will do so aggressively. The bet: Pimlico, Race 6, $50 to in on 2-Texas Wedge.
Pimlico, Race 8, 4:31 pm ET
$100,000 The Very One Stakes, 5 furlongs, Turf, FIllies & Mares 3 & Up
Two races after the boys sprint 5 furlongs on grass, the girls get their turn, and twelve of them will go to the post in The Very One. This is a wide open, sensational betting race, with the favorite a tepid 3-1, and many of the entrants having a realistic shot at pretty big prices. If there’s a race to try to nail a winner at boxcar odds, this is it.
We are doing just that, in fact, and it is with 4-Dendrobia. She’s a locally-based 5-year-old mare, and there are several things about her that we like: she is a strong finisher in a field loaded with speed-and-fade types; she is an ace at this distance, with eight in-the-money finishes in 13 career starts; and she has also run well in the past on grass that’s less than firm. And the thing that we like best? She’s 30-1. We think she has a chance in her and will bet her to win and to place. She should be well back early but should also be flying late. The bets: Pimlico, Race 8, $15 to win/place on 4-Dendrobia.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:47 pm ET
$100,000 Joseph A. Gimma Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred 2-year-old Fillies
Six state-bred juvenile fillies line up for the Gimma. We like the one on the outside, 6-Stimulus Check. She has just one start, but it was a good one, a sharp 4¾-length victory in a state-bred maiden race at Saratoga on August 19. She has worked well since, and her running style and pedigree suggest to us that she will be able to handle this 7-furlong distance. Throw in the outside post position, which is a tactical advantage, and we are sold. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 6-Stimulus Check.
Pimlico, Race 9, 5:04 pm ET
Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The day’s lone graded stakes is the Chick Lang, a 6 furlong main track sprint for sophomore colts. The favorite is undefeated 9-Yaupon, who’s 3-for-3 for trainer Steve Asmussen, including a very fast wire-to-wire win in the Grade 2 Amsterdam. He has speed to burn, a big edge in speed figures, and it’s very, very possible that he just steamrolls this field.
But at miniscule odds -- he may be 1/5 at post time -- Yaupon is a play-against. We are going with 4-Blackberry Wine, who was on the Kentucky Derby trail for a while earlier this year, before falling by the wayside after a speed-and-fade in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds in February. We think he’s still a quality colt, especially sprinting, and we think he has a shot here at a big price., His recent morning works have been sensational, and while he might not be as good as the favorite, at 15-1, he’s a much better bet. We will bet him to win and to place. The bets: Pimlico, Race 9, $20 to win/$10 to place on 4-Blackberry Wine.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.