Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Belmont, Keeneland and Monmouth Park and he's seeking some income from Tax
Belmont Park headlines the notable action on this fine fall Saturday, with a gaggle of graded stakes. But there is also excellent racing at Keeneland, and we’re also playing a stakes at Monmouth Park, partly because it’s a Grade 3, but mostly because the meet at the Jersey Shore is winding down, and we want to play the racing there while we can, as we will miss it when it’s gone.
Add it up and we have plays in five races this fine Saturday afternoon, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Monmouth Park, Race 8, 3:53 pm ET
Grade 3 Monmouth Park Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3 & Up
Eight older horses line up for an excellent stakes race on the turf. One of the entrants, 4-Almanaar, is a good example of an issue handicappers must deal with regularly: He’s clearly the class of the field, but he’s been away from the races for a long, long time, having last run in May of 2019. Will he be as good coming off a long vacation as he was last year?
We think the answer is yes, for two reasons: The first he’s trained by Chad Brown, who has a terrific 29% win rate with horses making their first start off a layoff of six months or longer; the second is that he appears to be good enough to win this race without being fully cranked. Another factor is his affinity for the Monmouth turf: he won a Grade 2 on the course, at today’s distance, in his last start. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Almanaar.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:14 pm ET
Grade 1 Flower Bowl Stakes, 1 1/14 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Seven go in the Flower Bowl. Trainer Chad Brown saddles three of them, and we like one of them, the Irish-bred 6-Nay Lady Nay. She has won five of her eight career starts, including her last two, and while she doesn’t have quite as powerful a late kick as her stablemate, 2-My Sister Nat, she does close strongly. More important, she has more natural early speed, and we think that is important, as the race, on paper, at least, looks like it will have a pretty slow pace. We think she wins this by running close to the early leaders, spurting clear down the stretch, and holding off the deep closers late. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Nay Lady Nay.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:57 pm ET
Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
A good and deep field of ten goes nine furlongs on the dirt in the Hagyard Fayette. We like 9-Tax, who comes into this race off a brief freshening, having last run at Oaklawn Park in early May. We think he will fire off the rest, and get him back to where he was at this time last year, when he earned a string of good speed figures. We also think the shape of the race will favor him, as his best races have been pressing the pace, and we see exactly that setup for him today. We will bet Tax to win at 7/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Tax.
Belmont Park, Race 10, 5:20 pm ET
Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Eight sophomore fillies go in the Sands Point. One of them, 1-Tamahere, is making her first start in North America after a six-race career in France. She’s the pick for two reasons: The first is that she looks like the kind of European turf horse who was brought here with the expectation that she prefers truly firm footing, which she will get today. The other is that the other runners here are a decidedly modest group, and she will not have to be the second coming of Phar Lap to beat them. Look for her to gallop in the rear early, and be moving late. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 1-Tamahere.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:30 pm ET
Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
A terrific field of nine lines up for the Queen Elizabeth, and we’re all in on the favorite, 4-Magic Attitude. She’s an English-bred 3-year-old filly who won the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks in her last start, which was her first race in the U.S. She showed a truly devastating late turn of foot in that victory, and while a repeat of that effort might be good enough to win here, we think she will actually be better with that race under her belt. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $50 to win on 4-Magic Attitude.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.