Sunday Horse Racing: Garrity picks four races at Santa Anita Park including the Astra Stakes
In this Friday, May 22, 2020 photo, bugler Jay Cohen blows "Call to the Post" to the empty grandstand, a tradition maintained for those watching via simulcast, during a day of horse racing at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Ashley Landis | Associated Press

Sunday Horse Racing: Garrity picks four races at Santa Anita Park including the Astra Stakes

First picked race, the 3rd at Santa Anita Park, has a post time of 4:33 pm EST

With few stakes races on today’s national simulcasting docket, we’re going to take on a single track today, Santa Anita Park, which has a good nine-race card. We have five plays in four races. The weather in Southern California will be glorious today, mid-80s and sunny, real Chamber of Commerce stuff, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races. Let’s go.

Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 4:33 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up

This starter allowance, for older horses who have started for a claiming price of $50,000 or less, drew a field of eight. Speed has been quite good of late in these turf sprints at Santa Anita, and we tried to find a speed play, but there are too many one-dimensional speedballs in the field, which should result in a very fast early pace, and a winner coming from just off it.

That makes the pick 2-Bench Judge, a 5-year-old who just missed in his last start, which was his first after trainer Peter Miller claimed him in October. Here he shortens up from a mile to six furlongs, and we think the distance will suit him. He just looks better than the other horses, and we like the fact that Miller protected him here, where he cannot be claimed, rather than in another claiming race. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $35 to win on 2-Bench Judge.

Santa Anita Park, Race 6, 6:07 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

This race has similar conditions to the 3rd, but it’s for 3-year-olds, on dirt rather than turf, and at 6 ½ furlongs rather than 6, . Seven sophomore colts will go to the post.

The pick is morning line favorite 2-Uncle Boogie. There’s quite a bit of speed in the field, but little stamina, and we see a fast early/slow late pace that should play right into Uncle Boogie’s wheelhouse. We also think he will appreciate the class relief, as his last two starts were both in graded stakes. Look for him to be midpack early, moving around the far turn, and well in front at the wire. We will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 6, $40 to win on 2-Uncle Boogie.

Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 6:37 pm ET

Grade 3 Astra Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

The Astra, the day’s lone graded stakes in North America, drew a field of nine older female turf marathoners. We like 5-Hermaphrodite, a French-bred 6-year-old mare from the John Sadler barn. She’s run twice in the U.S. after a decent 12-race career in her native France, and while she will need to improve off those American races, we see ample reason to suspect that she will: a mile and a half is farther than she ran in either of her American races, and it’s a distance at which she did quite well in Europe, finishing in the money all four times she tried it. She has enough early speed to stay reasonably close to what figures to be a very slow pace, and then should be able to grind her way to the front late. We will bet her to win at 6-1, and will play her (see below) in the Double comprising Races 7 and 8. The bets: Santa Anita, Race 3, $35 to win on 5-Hermaphrodite; $30 double, 5 (Hermaphrodite) with 5 (As Time Goes By).

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:07 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, FIllies & Mares 4 & Up

Six go in this first-level allowance, and the headliner is 5-As Time Goes By, a 4-year-old Coolmore filly trained by Bob Baffert. She’s by American Pharoah, and while it took her a while to get going -- she didn’t make it to the races until August of her 3-year-old season, and then it took her three tries to break her maiden -- her figures indicate that she is the class of this field, and ready to move forward. Her odds will be relatively short, but we think there is value in every winner, especially when you’ve gone two days without cashing a ticket, so we will bet her to win at 8/5. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-As Time Goes By.

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

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