Garrity’s Friday Stakes Picks: The Phoenix and Darley at Keeneland, Bertram F. Bongard at Belmont, and the Pimlico Special at Pimlico
We have four good stakes races today, at Belmont, Pimlico, and Keeneland. It’s good stuff, and we’re eager to throw our hat into the ring, parimutuelly speaking.
It’s an all-main track lineup today, and we expect fast dirt in all four races, even at Pimlico, which got some rain overnight, but should dry out, and be fast, by late this afternoon. Let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 8, 5:05 pm ET
Grade 2 Phoenix Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
The Phoenix drew a good and deep field of ten. We’re going with a runner looking to rebound off a poor race: it’s 5-No Parole, who goes for trainer Tom Amoss. He’s a very, very speedy 3-year old colt who won the Woody Stephens in sensational wire-to-wire fashion at Belmont Park two back, and then did a speed-and-fade in Allen Jerkins at Saratoga, finishing a well-beaten ninth, in his last. Those races were both at 7 furlongs, and we think he will thrive at this shorter 6-furlong distance, where he is a perfect 3-for-3 in his career. He’s running against older horses for the first time, but we learned a long, long time ago that rapidly improving 3-year-olds in the fall are lethally dangerous, and No Parole seems to fit that box. He’s been running holes in the wind in his recent morning workouts, seems poised to run a big race today, and at 5-1, is a great, great play. We also like that he drew outside the other speed in the race, 2-Absolutely Aiden. We will bet No Parole to win, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Keenleand, Race 8, $50 to win on 5-No Parole.
Belmont Park, Race 9, 5:20 pm ET
$100,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred 2-Year-Olds
Six state-bred juveniles line up to go seven-eighths of a mile in the Bongard. We like 4-Eagle Orb, who starts for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, and we like him quite a bit: his speed figures are competitive, his form is good, and in a race filled with early speed, he has the right stalking running style. Most of these colts are stretching out from shorter races, and we think that Eagle Orb’s pedigree and strong finishing running style have him set to handle the additional distance quite well. Look for him to sit just behind the pacesetters and seize command late. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Eagle Orb.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:40 pm ET
Grade 1 Darley Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old FIllies
We’re getting to the time of year when 2-year-old racing increases in importance, and this is a good example, with seven juvenile fillies lining up for the Grade 1 Alcibiades.
We like 1-Thoughtfully, who has a pedigree -- by superstar stallion Tapit, out of a Seeking the Gold mare -- and a running style that suggests she is going to thrive going around two turns. WIth 2-year-olds stretching out this time of year, there’s a lot of extrapolation about which ones will take to the additional distance, and our Extrapolating Machine says that Thoughtfully will take to longer races like a duck takes to water. She also has an inside post that should prevent ground loss around the first turn, and therefore get her a good trip. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Thoughtfully.
Pimlico, Race 11, 6:23 pm ET
Grade 3 Pimlico Special, 1 3/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
Tomorrow is the big day in Baltimore, with the Preakness Stakes highlighting an exceptional 12-race card, but the Pimlico Special is a very good feature race for a Friday afternoon at Old Hilltop. After scratches, a field of seven goes to the gate, and while they’re long on quality, they’re short on one very important thing: early speed. As a result, we see the pace of this race being slow, perhaps even very slow, and that creates the possibility that a horse may be able to steal the race on the front end.
That makes 1-Cordmaker the pick. Unlike most of the runners, who have shipped to Pimlico for the race, he’s a locally based horse, a 5-year-old gelding who has done most of his running at neighboring Laurel Park. He is in fine form, having finished second in a stakes at Laurel a month ago, and he should get the early lead from his inside post. From there, we think he will set very moderate early fractions, which will make him tough to catch down the stretch. We think the closers are going to be spinning their wheels late, which makes speed, in the form of Cordmaker, the play. At 8-1, he’s a good play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Pimlico, Race 11, $40 to win on 1-Cordmaker.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.