Garrity's Saturday Stakes: The Risen Star Derby prep and other races at Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds
When you win, it's always sunny. Mischevious Alex takes the Gotham last March.NYRA / Chelsea Durand

Garrity's Saturday Stakes: The Risen Star Derby prep and other races at Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds

First post is at 5:16 pm EST.

We take another step toward the Kentucky Derby today, and it’s a fairly big one, with the most important race of the day the Risen Star, which headlines a terrific card at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. But there are plenty of other stakes races too, from one end of the country to the other, and we’ve selected six as our Saturday lineup of simulcasting action. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.

Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 5:16 pm ET

Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint, 6 furlongs, 4 & Up

We’ve liked 5-Mischevious Alex since he was a 3-year-old last year, when he won the Swale and the Gotham, but did not move forward on the Derby trail because of concerns about his ability to handle longer races. It seems that since then he has settled into his role as a sprinter, as he showed in his last start, a powerful win in a January 10 allowance race at Gulfstream Park. He earned a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure for that win, and what is scary is that he may be even better today. Put bluntly, we think the rest of the field here is running strictly for second money. We will bet Mischevious Alex to win, and will do so with gusto. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $50 to win on 5-Mischevious.

Fair Grounds, Race 10, 5:44 pm ET

Grade 3 Mineshaft Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

Six go in the Mineshaft. The heavy favorite, 4/5 on the morning line, is 4-Maxfield, the 4-year-old Godolphin homebred, and son of Street Sense, who is undefeated in four career starts. He may win, but we think his edge is much smaller than will be reflected in the odds, marking him as an underlay and a play-against.

We like 1-Enforceable, whose last race, a win in a Fair Grounds allowance on Jan. 17, was faster than Maxfield has ever run, and who seems to be rounding into quite good form. And while we dislike the term “wagering value” -- every winner, irrespective of odds, has value -- we think that the 6-1 morning line price on Enforceable is a much more intelligent bet than taking the favorite at odds-on. We will bet Enforceable to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 10, $35 to win on 1-Enforceable.

Fair Grounds, Race 12, 6:47 pm ET

Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Rachel Alexandra, a prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, drew a field of eight sophomore fillies. When a field is this deep, we typically look for a runner with decent odds, but we cannot get past morning line favorite 8-Travel Column in this spot. The speed and pace figures she earned in her three career starts, two of which she won, mark her as a serious equine athlete, but what we like even more than the figs is that she has run faster and better as the races have grown longer. She looks so overwhelmingly like the winner here that we are comfortable taking her relatively short 2-1 morning line price. We will bet her to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 12, $40 to win on 8-Travel Column.

Fair Grounds, Race 13, 7:18 pm ET
Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Eleven Triple Crown hopefuls line up for the Risen Star. In a wide open, terrific betting race, the pick is 11-Mandaloun. He disappointed in his last start, when he finished third as the heavy favorite in the Lecomte at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 16, but there were several things to like about how he ran that day: he finished gamely after being wide throughout, ending up only a length behind the winner; and from a figure standpoint, he ran the best race of his career. He was coming off a layoff in the Lecomte, and it was his first start around two turns, and that he ran a new top in spite of all that is a powerful indication that he is a seriously talented colt. We think he will show that today, which makes his 9/2 morning line price look positively juicy. We will bet him to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 13, $40 to win on 11-Mandaloun.

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:20 pm ET

Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

Short fields have been a problem in California for years, so it’s good to see that the Santa Monica drew a deep and talented group of twelve older females. We like a mare on the cutback, 4-Hard Not to Love, who sprints here after running her last five races around two turns. We like the fact that she is proven at the distance, with two wins in three tries, and we also think there is enough speed in the group to set up her late kick. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Hard Not to Love.

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

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