Sunday at the track: Garrity picks five stakes at Aqueduct and Del Mar, including the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes
Lovestruck, shown here racing at Saratoga in September 2020, is Garrity's pick to win today's $100,000 Tepin Stakes at AqueductNYRA

Sunday at the track: Garrity picks five stakes at Aqueduct and Del Mar, including the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes

First picked race, the $100,000 Autumn Days Stakes at Aqueduct, has a post time of 2:44 pm ET

We have plays in five stakes races today, three at Aqueduct and two at Del Mar. We expect good weather, and fast dirt and firm turf, in all of them, except for the grass races at Aqueduct. Let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 2:44 pm ET

$100,000 Autumn Days Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Aqueduct has two turf courses, and we normally do not differentiate between them, but we will do so today, because on Sunday morning, the New York Racing Association listed the inner turf as good, and the outer turf yielding. The Autumn Days Stakes, which drew a field of ten, goes on the outer turf, which means soft going.

That has a big impact on how we see this race running, and it affects our pick: we’d probably have liked Christophe Clement trainee 8-Madeline Must a little bit on firm turf, but we her up on softer ground. She won an allowance race at Aqueduct on November 14, over yielding turf and at this 6 furlong distance, and while we think a repeat of that effort might be good enough to win here, we think she’ll do better, as this is her third start off a layoff, and horses very frequently run the best race of which they are capable in that spot. Madeline Must should also get a good stalking trip from her outside post; look for her to be just behind the early leaders, to move to the front around the far turn, and to hold off the deep closers with a strong stretch run. We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $35 to win on 8-Madeline Must.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:15 pm ET

$100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

A field of seven lines up for the Fall Highweight. We’re all in on the favorite, 5-Share the Ride, who finished second in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler two back, on Hallloween, and then won an allowance race in very fast time at Parx on November 18. We particularly like that last race, as the 7 furlong distance, and the Parx main track, which is a bit deeper than at Aqueduct, should have Share the Ride dead fit, and breathing fire, this afternoon. Look for him to sit just behind the pacesetters, and to win this with a strong move at the top of the stretch. We will bet him to win at 9/5, and will also (see below) play him with 2-Lovestruck in the Daily Double comprising Races 8 and 9. The bets: Aqueduct, Race 8, $20 to win on 5-Share the Ride; $25 double, 8 (Share the Ride) with 2 (Lovestruck).

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:44 pm ET

$100,000 Tepin Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies

The Tepin, which drew a field of eight, will go on the inner turf at the Big A, which should be good, just a tick firmer than the outer turf course. We’re looking for a filly who can handle the going, but we’re also looking for one who can finish strongly, as a couple of speedy entrants appear likely to set a pretty fast pace, and to set the race up for a come-from-behinder.

That makes the pick favored 2-Lovestruck, a Bill Mott-trained Godolphin homebred who broke her maiden in her first career start at Saratoga in August. Like all Godolphin horses, she has an impeccable pedigree, by top sire Tapit out of a Mr. Prospector mare, and we are impressed by her precocity, but even more so with her running style: she has the best late kick, by a huge margin, in a race that should favor closers. She’s 7/5 on the morning line, and we would normally try to beat her if only for that reason, but there is value in every winner, and Lovestruck simply appears better than the rest of this field, and we think she will handle the good turf just fine. We will bet her to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $50 to win on 2-Lovestruck.

Del Mar, Race 7, 5:58 pm ET

Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

The first of a pair of graded stakes on out West is the DeMille, which drew a terrific field of eleven juvenile fillies. It’s a real handicapper’s race, with the favorite a tepid 7/2, and seven of the eleven with morning line odds between 7/2 and 8-1.

We like the filly all the way on the outside, 11-Wootton Asset, and we like her quite a bit. The Graham Motion trainee has run twice in the U.S., after a four-race career in France earlier this year, and while the results of her two American races were not extraordinary, they were not embarrassing, either: she finished fourth and second in a couple of minor stakes, both in October, at Pimlico and Belmont.

What we really like about her chances is the going: she looks to us like the kind of horse who wants firm turf, and who was brought to the U.S. to get it, but she was very unlucky in those races in Maryland and New York: the turf in both came up yielding. The difference between firm turf and soft turf is big, analogous to the difference between a tennis match on grass and a tennis match on red clay, and we think that Wootton Asset is going to show enormous improvement today on Del Mar’s very firm turf course. She’ll have to negotiate the outside post, which is a disadvantage, but we think jockey Manny Franco will be able to keep her from going too wide around the turns. That makes Wootton Asset the likeliest winner, and that means we are going to the windows: she’s ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $50 to win on 11-Wootton Asset.

Del Mar, Race 9, 6:56 pm ET

Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This is the day’s lone Grade 1 race, and it’s a terrific renewal of the Matriarch, with an excellent field of nine. We have eyes only for an entrant from the Chad Brown barn, 9-Tamahere, who is a 3-year-old filly who began her career in her native France, and won her North American debut impressively, taking the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont Park on October 10 with a powerful late rally. A repeat of that effort might be good enough to win the Matriarch, but we think she’s going to be even better here, partly because it’s her second race off the layoff, and partly because we see a fast pace that should favor her late-running style. East Coast horses have dominated the turf stakes at Del Mar over the weekend, and we see that trend continuing in the Matriarch. We will bet Tamahere to win at 4-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $50 to win on 9-Tamahere.

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

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