Garrity's Saturday Stakes 1 picks races at Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Santa Anita including the Honey Fox
The Fountain of Youth and the Southwest Stakes may be the day’s most prominent races, but there are plenty of other stakes for the avid horseplayer. We have five of them, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, except as noted below. Let’s go.
Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 2:53 pm ET
Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up
Nine older horses line up to run eight and a half furlongs in the Canadian Turf. With the current configuration of the Gulfstream grass course playing in favor of speed horses and stalkers, and against deep closers, the pick is 9-Winters Back. He’s a lightly raced Todd Pletcher trainee in excellent form, winning two of his last three races, and he has the kind of natural speed that horses need to win grass races at Gulfstream right now, and that he will need to avoid being hung wide around the first turn. He may set the pace or he may stalk; either way, we see him getting to the front at the top of the stretch, and holding off the stretch runners late. We will bet him to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 9-Winters Back.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 3:27 pm ET
Grade 2 Winstar Gulfstream Park Mile, 1 mile, Dirt, 4 & Up
This one-turn mile Grade 2 stakes drew a field of eight, but we have eyes for only one: 4-Performer, whose combination of pace and speed figures mark him as the fastest horse by a pretty significant margin. He should also be favored by the pace of the race, which should be somewhere between fast and very fast, allowing him to sit just behind the early leaders, in perfect stalking position, moving to the front as the field turns for home and the pacesetters begin to tire. When the best horse figures to get the best trip, it’s time to loosen the rubber band around the bankroll, and that is what we’ll do here, betting Performer to win, and doing so aggressively. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $75 to win on 4-Performer.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 4:52 pm ET
$200,000 Spring Fever Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, FIllies & Mares 4 & Up
A good group of nine older females goes to the post for the Spring Fever, and the race, for us, is a straight-down-the-line speed play, as 3-Amy’s Challenge has a huge edge in early speed over the rest of the field. This means she’s going to get the lead, will do so without breaking a sweat, and from that spot at the head of the field, the other runners will be unable to catch her. Look for Amy’s Challenge to win in wire-to-wire fashion; we will bet her to win at 5/2. We should note that the track at Oaklawn was listed as muddy late Saturday morning, and the afternoon forecast is iffy, but we like this play whether the track is wet or dry. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Amy’s Challenge.
Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 4:29 pm ET
Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
The headliner here, among the nine fillies and mares who line up to for the Honey Fox, is 2-Got Stormy, who has been running well and consistently going back several seasons. She’s hit the board in 15 of her 17 career starts at this mile distance on turf, and a win would not be much of a surprise, but she’s going to be a miserly price, something like 3/5, and considering that she is coming off a layoff, and is now six years old and may have lost a step, we think she is a play-against.
We like 4-Ricetta. She started her career quite well last year, winning two of three at Newmarket and York, two of the premier racecourses in her native England. She was brought to the U.S. last summer, where she disappointed, running fifth in a stakes race at Saratoga in August, an effort which earned her a vacation. She comes into this race off a six-month layoff, and while the time on the bench is a concern, trainer Bill Mott is good at getting horses to run well off the bench, and we simply think she is better than the rest of these horses. And at 5-1, she is a far more appealing wager Get Stormy. We will bet her to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $40 to win on 4-Ricetta.
Santa Anita, Race 8, 7:26 pm ET
$100,000 Pasadena Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
A field of six lines up for the Pasadena, and we found it the easiest race of the day to handicap, as 2-Cathkin Peak, who has won both of his U.S. starts since being imported from his native Ireland last fall, looks overwhelmingly the likeliest winner. Look for him to sit toward the rear of the pack early, and get his picture taken with a big stretch run. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-Cathkin Peak.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.