Garrity's Saturday Stakes heads to Gulfstream Park for 4 graded races including the Rampart & Sugar Swirl
Letruska, winning the Shuvee Stakes at Saratoga in August. Garrity expects her to wire the field today at Gulfstream.NYRA / Chelsea Durand

Garrity's Saturday Stakes heads to Gulfstream Park for 4 graded races including the Rampart & Sugar Swirl

Garrity's first post is the 4th race at 1:35 pm EST.

We are headed to South Florida today, to Gulfstream Park, not because we want to commune with the snowbirds -- we like the cold -- but because that’s where the graded stakes races are. There are four of them on the Gulfstream card, and we have plays in all of them. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all four, so let’s go.

Gulfstream Park, Race 4, 1:35 pm ET

Grade 3 Rampart Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

The Gulfstream Park dirt course has been quite kind to speed in recent days, which makes this race easy to handicap: 5-Letruska is the fastest horse in the field, and is a cinch to get the early lead, as she has done in seven of her last eight starts. From there, she will wire this group, and we think she will do so quite easily. At 2-1, she’s not going to make anyone rich, but there is value in every winner, and Letruska is overwhelmingly the likeliest winner here. We will bet her to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 4, $40 to win on 5-Letruska.

Gulfstream Park, Race 6, 2:38 pm ET

Grade 2 Sugar Swirl Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, FIllies & Mares 3 & Up

Six go in the Sugar Swirl, and there’s a lot of speed in the group, with 2-Lady’s Island, 3-Golden Ani, 4-Cinnabunny, and 6-Aunt Nadine all having set the pace in their recent races. One way to handicap a race where there’s this much speed is to play a closer, but we are going to go the other way, which is to take the speed of the speed, as the saying goes, the horse who will outrun the other speedsters early. The notion is that speed horses run their best when they get the early lead, and the ones who do not get it here will run subpar races as a result.

We have little doubt that the fastest of these four fillies and mares is 2-Lady’s Island. She has set blazingly fast fractions in her recent races, including mind-boggling splits two back in the Honorable Miss at Saratoga, when she went 21 ⅗ the first quarter, and 43 ⅘ for the first half mile. This is a seriously quick mare, and we think she will outrun the rest of the field early, and win the Sugar Swirl in wire-to-wire fashion. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 6, $35 to win on 2-Lady’s Island.

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:09 pm ET
Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

Seven go in the Harlan’s Holiday. We like 1-Tax, who is coming off a layoff, having last run in the Oaklawn Handicap in May. He’s been running in some very tough races, going all the way back to his Triple Crown campaign as a 3-year-old in 2019, and we think he’s going to like the fact that this field is nowhere near as tough as what he’s seen in the past. His trainer, Danny Gargan, has an incredible 41% win rate with horses coming off layoffs over six months, and Tax has been working exceptionally well in the morning. He has a pace-pressing style that will work both with how the Gulfstream dirt has been playing, and the pace shape we expect in this race. All signs point to go with Tax, so we are going -- to the windows. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $50 to win on 1-Tax.

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 4:40 pm ET

Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

The best race of the day at Gulfstream is the Ft. Lauderdale, in which ten older horses will line up to go nine furlongs on the turf. The early pace should be legitimate, or perhaps even fast, as there are a couple of need-the-lead types in the group. That makes the pick 8-Spooky Channel, who should get a good trip just behind the first flight of horses, and be ready to pounce when the field turns for home. He’s coming out of a very tough race, the Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont Park, and while that race was back in July, his recent morning works suggest he will be ready to fire off the bench. We will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $30 to win on 8-Spooky.

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

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