Black Friday at the track: Garrity picks stakes races at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, and Del Mar
Gufo, shown here racing The Belmont Derby, is Garrity's pick to win the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar todayNYRA

Black Friday at the track: Garrity picks stakes races at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, and Del Mar

First picked race, the Long Island Stakes at Aqueduct, has a post time of 4:13 pm ET

Today is the first day of a three-day, post-Thanksgiving feast, the last big weekend of racing of 2020. We have shaken off our tryptophan-induced torpor and are ready to attack Black Friday with plays in five stakes races in New York, Kentucky, and California. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 10, 4:13 pm ET

Grade 3 Long Island Stakes 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

The Long Island drew a deep field of twelve. The pick is 4-Mutamakina, an English-bred 4-year-old filly trained by Christophe Clement. She ran in some pretty tough races the past two years in France, and ran pretty well in her last, a minor turf stakes at Belmont Park on October 31. That was her U.S. debut, and we’re expecting her to improve today, partly because we think she’ll do better in her second race off a layoff, but mostly because of the going: the turf in her last race was yielding, and this afternoon she should get the firm footing she wants. We also think her running style gives her an edge, as a couple of the logical contenders are come-from-behinders with no early speed, and Mutamakina should be closer to what looks on paper to be a very slow pace. We think she gets first jump on the closers, and that will put her in the winner’s circle. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 10, $35 to win on 4-Mutamakina.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:57 pm ET

Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Ten juvenile fillies go in the Golden Rod. The hot favorite is 8-Simply Ravishing, who’s even money after winning her first three starts, and finishing a good fourth in the Breeders Cup juvenile fillies in her fourth and last start.

There’s nothing wrong with Simply Ravishing’s form, and she does have a pretty big speed-figure edge on the rest of the field, but we are playing against her, as she’s no sure thing, and at a very, very short price, she looks like an underlay to us. We will try to beat her with 5-Travel Column, who makes her third career start today. She won her first, a maiden sprint at Churchill Downs on September 4, and then got thrown into the deep end of the pool, running in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland on October 2. She finished behind Simply Ravishing that day, but that was her first start around two turns, and we think that she has room for improvement today. At 5-1, she is also a much better wager. We will bet her to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $30 to win on 5-Travel Column.

Churchill Downs, Race 11, 5:56 pm ET

Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

There’s something in this race that we cannot recall seeing: the favorite in a Grade 2 stakes is a maiden, winless in three career starts. That’s 4-Keepmeinmind, who’s 6/5 after hitting the board in his last two, both Grade 1 races, the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland on October 3 and the Breeders Cup Juvenile on October 4 at Keeneland. He earned very good speed figures in those races, but at a short price, he looks like another underlay, another case of a horse coming out of a Breeders Cup race who figures to be wildly over-bet.

We like 1-Sittin on Go. Like the favorite, his last start was in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, but he had a rough go of it that day, finishing 9th after traffic trouble forced him very wide around both turns. We think he can improve here, and his inside post position (he breaks from post 2) should virtually guarantee him a better trip than he had last time. At 5-1 we like his chances and will bet him to win. Since he’s part of an entry, we also get his stablemate, 1A-Smiley Sobotka. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 11, $30 to win on the 1-Sittin on Go/1A-Smiley Sobotka entry.

Del Mar, Race 7, 6:27 pm ET

Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

There’s a terrific card at Del Mar today, with a bunch of good races, most of them on turf. The Seabiscuit, which drew a full field of 13, is one, a superb race from both a sporting and wagering perspective.

We like favored 12-Flavius, who starts for trainer Chad Brown. He’s coming out of the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on October 3, and while he finished fifth, he was only 2 ¾ lengths behind the winner, and he overcame some traffic trouble down the stretch to get that close. We expect a better trip for him today, even from the outside post, as 1 1/16 mile turf races at Del Mar start in the infield chute, which should give jockey Irad Ortiz plenty of time to secure good position before the first turn. We think that if Flavius gets a good trip, the rest of the field is running for second money. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $40 to win on 12-Flavius.

Del Mar, Race 9, 7:25 pm ET

Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The final race in our Black Friday quintet is the day’s lone Grade 1 race, the Hollywood Derby. It’s a terrific renewal of this historic stakes race, with a very, very good field of 13 going to the post. We like the colt all the way on the outside, 13-Gufo. He’s a Christophe Clement trainee who has won five of his seven career starts, and hit the board in the other two, and has done so in all of them by sitting at the back of the pack and unleashing a furious late run. He’s in excellent form, with very good efforts in his last three races, and we think the race shape will favor his running style, as there are a couple of speed horses in the field, and their presence should ensure a legitimate or even fast early pace, and that will set the table nicely for Gufo’s late charge. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 13-Gufo.

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

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