Thursday at the track: Garrity picks the horses at Aqueduct, Oaklawn Park, Gulfstream Park, and Fair Grounds
First picked race, the 7th at Aqueduct, has a post time of 4:25 pm ET
We’ve moved into February now, which in addition to being the shank end of winter here in the Northeast is the time when the trail to the Kentucky Derby really heats up. Two Derby preps, the Withers at Aqueduct and the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, are this weekend, and before the end of the month, the Risen Star, the Southwest, and the Fountain of Youth Stakes will have been contested, and many horses who looked like possible Derby contenders will have fallen by the wayside. In just a few weeks time, what is a pretty muddled picture in terms of the top 3-year-old in training should have a lot more clarity, and this gives us something other than the robin and the crocus, as the old saying goes, to look forward to.
But we are not there quite yet, we’re still in deep winter. So today we have four Thursday plays at four different tracks, from New York to Florida to Louisiana to Arkansas. It’s an all-dirt lineup today, and we expect a fast track in all four races. Let’s go.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:25 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
It’s going to be cold at the Big A today, but that will not be an issue for the seven first-level allowance runners in Race 7, as horses are built to handle the cold. A better question than which animal will handle the temperature is which the projected race shape will favor, and we think the answer is 5/2 second choice 1-Jemography. His last four races have all been excellent, and the fast pace we expect should favor his mid-pack stalking/closing running style. He’s won his last two starts, and we think he makes it three in a row today. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $35 to win on 1-Jemography.
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 5:09 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 4 & Up
The mile race for first-level allowance older horses drew a field of seven. We’re all over favored 2-Snapper Sinclair, who has run three terrific races in a row, the last a superb runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on December 5. He has a significant speed-figure edge on the other runners, and with his speed, we expect him to dominate this race from start to finish. His 6/5 price is a bit short, but there is value in every winner, and Snapper Sinclair looks overwhelmingly like a winner here. We will bet him to win. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $50 to win on 2-Snapper Sinclair.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 5:17 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Florida-bred Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
It’s not often that we see a morning line of 20-1 on a horse with the most early speed, but that’s what we have here, as 2-Domineer has the best early-pace number, and comes off two consecutive races where she had the early lead. Will she get the lead here from her inside post position? We think so. Will she be able to stay in front for all 6 of this race’s furlongs? That’s less certain, but at boxcar odds, we’ll have a flutter that the answer is Yes. We will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $20 to win/$10 to place on 2-Domineer.
Fair Grounds, Race 9, 5:52 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Louisiana-breds 4 & Up
There are ten entered in this state-bred allowance down in the Big Easy, and most of them have a similar fast early/slow late running style. This should lead to an unsustainably fast early pace, early leaders getting the staggers down the stretch, and a winner coming from behind, possibly very far behind.
We like 10-Guitar Slim. He’s never run a bad race in his three lifetime races, and while all his starts have been around two turns, we like the cutback to a sprint here, as he will still be running strongly while the speed horses are gasping for air. The outside post should also be a tactical advantage for his late charge. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Guitar Slim.