Sunday at the track: Garrity looks to Sam Houston, where it's not snowing, to pick some winning tickets
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Sunday at the track: Garrity looks to Sam Houston, where it's not snowing, to pick some winning tickets

First picked race, the 6th at Sam Houston — The $75,000 Stonerside Sprint, has a post time of 5:25 pm ET

With we denizens of the Northeast girding our collective loins for the biggest snowstorm in several years, there’s no better day than today to stay home, stay safe, and to bet on some horses running in circles in much warmer climes. We are turning our attention today to Sam Houston Race Park in Texas, where a stakes-studded card comprises the Houston Racing Festival. The weather will be fine, sunny with temperatures in the mid-60s, and we have multiple plays in four races on the latter part of the card. We are expecting fast dirt and firm turf, so let’s go.

Sam Houston, Race 6, 5:25 pm ET

$75,000 Stonerside Sprint, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

Two horses have run speed figures that stand out in this field of nine. They are 1-Nitrous and 9-Hollis, and we think they are going to run 1-2, in that order. Hollis has more speed, so look for him to get the lead from his outside post, but Nitrous has a much stronger finishing kick, which we expect to allow him to overtake Hollis in deep stretch and get the prize. We will bet Nitrous to win at 8/5 and play them in order in the exacta. The bets: Sam Houston, Race 6, $40 to win on 1-Nitrous; $10 exacta, 1 (Nitrous) with 9 (Hollis).

Sam Houston, Race 7, 6:00 pm ET

$200,000 Texas Turf Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

A full field of twelve goes to the post in this mile turf race for sophomores, and it’s an interesting group, a good race to handicap. We see a fast pace, and a winner at a big price: it’s the stretch-running 12-Catman, who has the best late-pace figure in the field, and who should be flying down the stretch. The speed figures he earned in his five career races to date are a bit light, so he’ll need to improve to win today, but we see two reasons why an improvement may be in the cards: the first is that he gets Lasix for the first time, and the second is that his last four races have all been on soft turf, and he just might move forward in a big way on the firm footing he will see in the Texas Turf Mile. We will bet him to win and to place at positively juicy 20-1 odds and will also play him in the Double (see below) comprising Races 7 and 8. The bets: Sam Houston, Race 7, $30 to win/$10 to place on 12-Catman; $10 double, 12 (Catman) with 7 (Letruska).

Sam Houston, Race 8, 6:32 pm ET

Grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, FIllies & Mares 4 & Up

The Ladies Classic, a graded stakes and one of the co-features on the Houston Racing Festival card, drew a field of seven. The headliner is 7-Letruska, who has 11 wins in 14 career main-track starts. She’s a 5-year-old mare with ample speed, and her races fall into two categories: when she gets a comfortable early lead, she wins; when she is part of a contested early pace, she does not.

The composition of this field makes it highly likely that Letruksa is going to get the lead here, and will do so quite easily, which means that she is going to win, probably in a manner that makes the race look something like a public workout. She’s even money on the morning line, and will likely be shorter at post time, so she offers little value as a win proposition, but we will use her as the lynchpin of our multi-race bets, and will pair her in doubles with our picks in the races before and after this one. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 8, $25 double, 7 (Letruska) with 4-Tenfold.

Sam Houston Race 9, 7:07 pm ET

Grade 3 John B Connally Turf Cup, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 4 & Up

The Connally Turf Cup drew a full field of twelve older horses to run twelve furlongs on the Sam Houston turf course. While shorter turf races are frequently won by horses with a big late turn of foot, the horses who win these marathons tend to be grinders, horses who can maintain a more steady pace throughout the grueling distance. We mention that because that is a pretty good description of 4-Tenfold, who’s the pick here. He’s a 6-year-old who has done most of his running on the main track, with 21 of his 22 career starts on conventional dirt, where his lack of early speed has made victories hard to come by.

But he has plenty of stamina, and he showed an affinity for grass in his last start, when he rallied from the back of the pack to finish two lengths behind the winner of a minor stakes race at the Fair Grounds. We think he’ll appreciate the extra distance; we think he’ll appreciate being closer to the early leaders, and we think he’s sitting on a big race today. At 6-1, we will bet on it. We will play him to win at 6-1. The bet: Sam Houston, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Tenfold.

We are also going to play a couple of Pick 3 tickets, one comprising the first three of the above races, the second the last three. We are singling Letruska in the Ladies Classic on both tickets and spreading wide in the two turf races. The horses we will include are as follows:

Race 6: 1-Nitrous, 9-Hollis

Race 7: 1-Palazzi, 3-Excess Magic, 5-Fighting Force, 12-Catman

Race 8: 7-Letruska

Race 9: 2-Signalman, 3-Ajourneytofreedom, 4-Tenfold, 5-Conviction Trade, 9-Vettori Kin 10-Spooky Channel, 12-Henley’s Joy.

Putting these together results in the following tickets:

Race 6, $1 Pick 3: 1,9 with 1,3,5,12 with 7

Race 7: $1 Pick 3: 1,3,5,12 with 7 with 2,3,4,5,9,10,12

These tickets will cost $8 and $28, respectively.

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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