Friday Fillies: Garrity picks the Pin Oak Valley View Stakes at Keeneland and a pair of races at Santa Anita
With rain spread over the Eastern United States, we’re going to look south and west for today’s action, to Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, and Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. We have three plays total and expect fast dirt and firm in all races. Let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:30 pm ET
Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
An interesting field of twelve sophomore fillies lines up for the Valley View. While we normally favor come-from-behinders in turf races, especially in stakes, we like speed here, in the form of 1-Duopoly. She’s a Chad Brown trainee with three career starts, and she’s won the last two of them in wire-to-wire fashion. The Keeneland sod has been kind to forwardly-placed horses this week, she looks to us like a rapidly-improving 3-year-old, and best of all, we do not think she will have much company up front. We think Duopoly wires this group and will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Duopoly.
Santa Anita, Race 5, 6:13 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This tough filly and mare second-level allowance drew a field of six. We are going with a big price, 2-Out of Balance, who starts for trainer David Hofmans. A couple of the entrants seem to know only one way, which is to go to the front and stay there as long as they can; we see this resulting in a fast pace, a speed duel that will set the table for a closer. Out of Balance has the best closing kick in the field, and she proved two back, when she took the prize in a Santa Anita allowance race with a similar setup, that she can win under the right conditions. At 15-1, she merits a play. We will bet her to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 5, $35 to win on 2-Out of Balance.
Santa Anita, Race 7, 7:14 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Six go in this allowance/optional claiming dirt sprint, but any analysis has to run through 6/5 morning line favorite, and Bob Baffert trainee, 2-Microrhythms. On form, he’s an absolute layover, having won two races in a row since the beginning of August, when he came off a long layoff of over a year. He earned big speed figures for both of those efforts and has been running a hole in the wind in his morning workouts since. On paper, he looks like a cinch.
But there’s something about him that gives us pause: his speed and pace figures suggest that he is fast enough to compete in stakes company, but instead of running in a stakes race, Baffert enters him here, and makes him eligible to be claimed for $62,500. This, plus a race record that is filled with long gaps, suggests to us that he has physical problems, and that Baffert is trying to unload him. While he’s probably a cinch to get claimed by someone, the prospect of taking a very short price on a horse who may be physically compromised is unappealing. We are looking elsewhere.
The pick is 5-Surfing Star. He’s a 5-year-old who earned some very good figures last year, before injuries forced him to the sidelines. He returned from that layoff at the end of August, finishing third in a shorter race at Del Mar, and we think that trainer Bruce Headley should have him primed for a big effort today. We think that he’s the likeliest winner should the favorite falter, and at 5-1, we think he’s the better play. We will bet Surfing Start to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Surfing Star.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.