Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks are at Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn and Santa Anita with two Kentucky Derby preps
Garrity's first post is the Swale at 2:10 pm EST.
It’s a big day at Gulfstream Park today, where the Holy Bull, an early Kentucky Derby prep, heads a terrific five-stakes card. There’s also another Derby prep out West, the Bob Lewis at Santa Anita, and a couple of good stakes at Oaklawn Park. We can’t cover them all, but we can cover six of the day’s stakes, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Gulfstream Park, Race 6, 2:10 pm ET
Grade 3 Swale Stakes, 7 furlongs, DIrt, 3-Year-Olds
Seven sophomore colts go in the Swale. We’re expecting a very fast pace, which makes the pick 1-Likeable, who cuts back to sprinting after doing a speed-and-fade in the Breeders Cup Juvenile in his last start. We generally dislike betting horses coming out of a Breeders Cup race, but there’s an exception to every rule, and in this case, we make one because we think the race will set up exceptionally well for Likeable, who should be able to save ground behind what should be a very fast pace up front, saving his energy for a strong late move. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 6, $40 to win on 1-Likeable.
Oaklawn Park, Race 5, 4:06 pm ET
$200,000 Martha Washington Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Six go in the Martha Washington. The pick is the favorite, 3-Coach, and it’s a strong one: she’s won three of her four career starts, with her only loss in her last start, the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs in November. She showed a lot of guts that day, finishing a game third after a wide trip, but she should get a much better trip today, sitting just behind what looks to be a fast pace, a position from which she can launch her strong late run. At 7/5, she’s not going to make anyone rich, but there is value in every winner, so will bet her to win. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 5, $40 to win on 3-Coach.
Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 4:18 pm ET
Grade 3 Sweetest Chant Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
The Sweetest Chant drew a field of eight, and we like the filly all the way on the outside, 8-Director’s Cut. She’s a Mark Casse trainee who ran second in an allowance at Gulfstream Park on January 10, and who should move forward in this spot, her second race off a layoff. Look for her to be toward the rear early, and moving late. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 8-Director’s Cut.
Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 4:50 pm ET
Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Eight 3-year-old colts will run in the Holy Bull, and while the race may not have any of the top contenders for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, it’s a good betting race, and it wouldn’t shock us if one of these stepped forward into Derby contention with a win here.
We think that could just be 6-Prime Factor, who comes from the Todd Pletcher barn. He has run only once, but it was a good one, putting up a big speed figure winning a maiden race at Gulfstream on Dec. 12. His morning workouts since that race have been blazingly fast, and while his maiden win was in a sprint, his world-class pedigree (by Quality Road, out of a Bernardini mare) suggests that he will handle the 1 1/16 distance of the Holy Bull with aplomb. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $35 to win on 6-Prime Factor.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:40 pm ET
$150,000 American Beauty Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
A deep and tough field of nine goes in the American Beauty. The pick is 7-Frank’s Rockette, a 4-year-old filly who last ran in the Breeders Cup Sprint, finishing a distant 11th. We note two things about that race: the first is that due to the speed-favoring nature of the dirt course at Keeneland the day of the Breeders Cup, she had virtually no chance; the second is that she took on the boys that day, which gives an idea of how good trainer Bill Mott thinks she is. She’s back against females today, and we think the rest of the field is running for second money. Look for her to press the early pace and to win going away. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Frank’s Rockette.
Santa Anita, Race 7, 6:37 pm ET
Grace 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Los Angeles got a lot of rain the past couple of days, enough to force the cancellation of Friday’s racing, but the forecast for today is for lots of California sun, and we’re anticipating that the main track at Santa Anita will be fast by the time the gates open in the Lewis, whose field came up surprisingly strong, with eight talented 3-year-olds going to the post.
The pick is 1-Medina Spirit. He’s lightly raced, with just two starts, but he improved in a big way in his last start, finishing second in the Sham on Jan. 2, and the fact that he earned such big speed and pace figures going around two turns stamp him as a colt on the come, one who figures to be even better at this slightly longer distance. He’s a Florida-bred with a modest pedigree, but he’s proof that good horses can come from almost anywhere. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s trained by Bob Baffert, who has won five of the last eight editions of the Sham. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $50 to win on 1-Medina Spirit.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.