Sunday Stakes: Garrity picks the Damon Runyon at Aqueduct and the Irish O’Brien at Santa Anita Park
Perfect Munnings, shown here racing at Aqueduct in January 2021, is Garrity's pick for today's $100,000 Damon Runyon Stakes at AqueductChelsea Durand | NYRA

Sunday Stakes: Garrity picks the Damon Runyon at Aqueduct and the Irish O’Brien at Santa Anita Park

First picked race, the $100,000 Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct, has a post time of 4:55 pm ET

Today is the first day of daylight savings time, and while there evidently are bad things associated with moving the clocks, like an increase in both car crashes and heart attacks, there is one consequence that is an unmitigated good: tracks without artificial lights, which is most of them, can run races later in the day, and even in the evening. This is something we like, especially on Fridays, as it allows races to be carded at times that are more accessible to fans and bettors, especially those poor slobs like us who work until 5:00 or 5:30 pm. Being able to play the late double after a long week is a terrific way to start the weekend.

It’s a quiet Sunday, with just two stakes races on the simulcasting schedule, the Damon Runyon at Aqueduct, and the Irish O’Brien at Santa Anita. They are our two plays. We expect fast dirt in New York, and firm turf in California. Let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:55 pm ET

$100,000 Damon Runyon Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred 3-Year-Olds

Ten state-bred sophomore colts go in the Runyon. We like 3-Perfect Munnings, who tries to rebound here from a bad race last out, when he finished a distant third, 12 ¼ lengths behind the winner, in the Gander Stakes on Valentine’s Day. We think he can improve today, as he cuts back to 7 furlongs from the mile of the Gander, and he also adds blinkers, which should keep him focused on running. He should get a good trip from a pace standpoint, as he’s a stalker, we expect the race to develop in a manner that favors that running style. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Perfect Munnings.

Santa Anita Park, Race 6, 6:18 pm ET

$100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, California-breds 4 & Up

Eight go in the O’Brien, a terrific betting race. We see a hot early pace, and that makes the stretch-running 5-Pulpit Rider the pick: he’s getting class relief here, facing state-breds after running in a Grade 2 stakes in his last, and shortens up to 6 furlongs here after running in longer races all of last year. We love that cutback, especially with how we see the pace developing, and while he is coming off a layoff, having been idle since September, his morning work tab of late looks good, and trainer Mike Puype has a very good 21% strike rate with horses coming off the bench. Look for him to be flying late; we will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 6, $50 to win on 5-Pulpit Rider.

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

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