Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Santa Anita, Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn, with Kentucky Derby preps
Max Player beat Shotski to win the 2020 Withers. Today, Garrity likes Risk Taking.NYRA / Chelsea Durand

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Santa Anita, Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn, with Kentucky Derby preps

Garrity's first post is 3:30 pm EST. 3-year-olds go in the Withers, the Sam F. Davis and the San Vicente.

The best card in the country today is out West, at Santa Anita Park, where four graded stakes will be run in the shadow of the San Gabriel mountains. We have plays in two of them, and throw in Derby prep races in New York and Florida, a terrific turf race in Tampa, the King Cotton Stakes in Arkansas, and we have a terrific Saturday six pack of racing action. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all six races, so let’s go.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, 3:30 pm ET

Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up

This is a terrific betting race, with a big field of twelve, with most of them appearing to have a chance. We are going with a big price, 5-Delaware, an English-bred 5-year-old, and Chad Brown trainee, who came to the United States last year with impressive European credentials, including a win in a Group 3 race at Deauville in France. To say that Delaware has failed to live up to his Euro on this side of the pond, however, is an understatement, as he has win zero wins in five U.S. starts.

But we think Delaware is poised for a rebound here, as he’s coming off a brief vacation, with his last race on Dec. 12, and he’s been working very well in the morning. Put bluntly: We think Delaware is better than his recent races suggest, and we think he’s going to show that today. At 12-1, we’re taking that opinion to the window. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Delaware.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:25 pm ET

Grade 3 Withers Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

The Withers came up strong this year, with a deep field of nine sophomore colts. We think the mile and an eighth distance is important, as it’s early in the year for 3-year-olds to be going that far, but there is one who is already proven at the distance, 5-Risk Taking, who broke his maiden at 9 furlongs in his last start. He rallied from off the pace in that win, and with several speed horses likely to set a brisk pace in the Withers, we see a similar setup, and a similar result, today. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $35 to win on 5-Risk Taking.

Santa Anita Park, Race 4, 4:36 pm ET

Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 4 & Up

The San Marcos drew a field of six older horses. There’s no real speed in the group, which will probably result in a very slow pace that will favor the horses in front, and compromise the chances of the come-from-behinders. That makes the pick 2-Masteroffoxhounds, a Richard Baltas trainee who was last seen winning a Del Mar allowance race in November. He should get an absolute dream trip today, setting the pace without having to run too hard, and that will leave him with plenty of energy to finish strongly down the stretch, outrunning the closers to the finish line. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $40 to win on 2-Masteroffoxhounds.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 11, 5:02 pm ET

Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

A full field of twelve goes in the Davis. It is worth noting that none of them will run on the anti-bleeding medication Lasix, as this year, the points needed to enter a horse in the Kentucky Derby are only awarded to colts who run without the drug. Because of that, we’re going with a runner who has already run well twice without it: 11-Lucky Law, an Irish-bred trained by Patrick Biancone. He appears to be bred top and bottom for turf, and both of his two career starts were on grass, but Biancone has evidently liked what he’s seen in Lucky Law’s morning workouts, which were on conventional dirt, to enter him here. The distance will not be an issue, nor will the ability to run without Lasix, as he ran without it in both his previous races. At 20-1, we think he has a chance, so we will bet him to win. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 11, $30 to win on 11-Lucky Law.

Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:40 pm ET

$150,000 King Cotton Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

Six go in the King Cotton. The pick is 2-Seven Nation Army, who has the best last-race speed figure in the field, a win in a tough allowance race at Churchill Downs, and who should get a good stalking trip with the speed of the race, 1-Strike Power, drawn just inside of him. Seven Nation Army is coming off a bit of a layoff, which is an issue, but his recent works suggest he will be ready to fire this afternoon. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 2-Seven Nation Army.

Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 6:14 pm ET

Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes, 7 furlongs, DIrt, 3-Year-Olds

Six 3-year-olds line up for the San Vicente, but all eyes, including ours, will be on the one on the outside, 6-Concert Tour, a Bob Baffert trainee who has only one career start, but it was a doozy, a very fast maiden win at Santa Anita on Jan. 15. A win here would mark Concert Tour as a legitimate Derby contender, and that is exactly what we expect to see, as he’s got early speed to burn, and an outside post position that is a tactical advantage in using that speed. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Concert Tour.

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

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