Monday at the track: Garrity picks 2 at Parx, the Hollie Hughes at Aqueduct, & the Wishing Well at Santa Anita
First picked race, the 5th at Parx, has a post time of 2:13 pm EST
Happy President’s Day. This is a holiday we’ve always liked, and it’s for a very specific reason: it’s an indication that we are in winter’s home stretch. March 1 is two weeks from today; the clocks go forward in less than a month; the Florida Derby is in 41 days; and for those really looking forward to spring, the Kentucky Derby is about ten weeks away. We are not out of winter yet, but the lengthening days and this national holiday are reminders that we will be very soon.
And since it’s a holiday, most of the major tracks have special Monday cards. We have four total holiday plays, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Parx Racing, Race 5, 2:13 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile 70 yards, Dirt, Pennsylvania-bred 3-Year-Olds
In this day of horses moving around quite a bit, of trainers shipping horses to find favorable spots, one of the fundamental questions a handicapper must deal with relates to class. Is an allowance horse at Track A better than an allowance horse at Track B? Is a state-bred stakes horse at a minor track better or worse than a $50,000 claimer at a major track?
In this case and in this race, the question is whether an open $40,000 maiden claiming race at Laurel Park is superior to a Maiden Special Weight race for Pennsylvania-breds at Parx. We think the answer to this is a definitive yes, which makes the pick easy: it’s 7-Fole’s Notion, who finished third in a $40k maiden claimer at Laurel on January 8, and here faces eight fellow state-breds. The figures say he’s superior, and so do we: we think he handles this group fairly comfortably. He’s trying two turns for the first time, but both his pedigree and running style suggest he should handle it; look for him to be near the leaders early, move to the front at the top of the stretch, and hold off the closers late. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 5, $35 to win on 7-Fole’s Notion.
Parx Racing, Race 9, 4:01 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile 70 yards, Dirt, 4 & Up
A full field of ten lines up for this allowance. We like 3-Star Sign, who’s had buzzard’s luck of late, losing by a nose in his last start, at this distance and at this level, and running over wet tracks, which he does not like, the two starts before that. In his last two tries on fast dirt, which he should get today, he has run winning races, and we think this afternoon he makes it three in a row. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Star Sign.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:25 pm ET
$100,000 Hollie Hughes Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, New York-breds 4 & Up
Only five go in the Hollie Hughes, but we think that the race, despite the small field, will be a useful illustration of the importance of pace. 1-Tribecca and 5-Amundson are both pretty talented, but they’re both speed horses, and they possess almost exactly the same amount of early foot. They’re both going to try to get the early lead, and since neither is faster than the other, this will result in a speed duel, with both of them expending too much energy in the first half mile, leaving too little in their respective tanks for the stretch.
This will leave stretch-running 3-Our Last Buck in the garden spot, sitting behind the suicidal pace duel in front of him, waiting to unleash his late rally. He’s done his best running as a closing sprinter in one-turn races, and while horses with this style are at the mercy of the pace in front of them, we think that what transpires up front in the Hollie Hughes will play to Our Last Buck’s favor. We think he passes ‘em all down the stretch and will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Our Last Buck.
Santa Anita, Race 7, 6:46 pm ET
$75,000 Wishing Well Stakes, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
A field of seven lines up for the Wishing Well, and we’re all in on favored 7-Oleksandra. Her last race was a nightmare, when she clipped heels, and threw her jockey, coming out of the gate of the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Stakes on January 9, but she has evidently emerged from that race no worse for the wear, and she is strictly the horse to beat here. We’d think that even if the projected shape of the race did not figure to favor her, but with a fast pace likely to favor her stretch-running style, she looks like very nearly a cinch. We will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $50 to win on 7-Oleksandra.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.