Garrity's Saturday Stakes: An Arkansas Derby upset pick plus other races from Oaklawn, Keeneland and Aqueduct
These are the kinds of days that we wait for all winter: it’s the biggest day of the year in Arkansas, where the Arkansas Derby heads a stakes-studded card at Oaklawn Park; and Keeneland Race Course has a card with four stakes, with the headliner the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley for older turf females. It’s a great day to be a fan, and an even better day to be a bettor. We have six plays in six races, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:57 pm ET
$100,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Ten line up for the Giant’s Causeway, a turf sprint for older females. We like the horse on the rail, 1-Into Mystic, She has enough early speed to stay reasonably close to what should be a fast early pace, which will allow her to get first jump on the closers when the pacesetters begin to shorten stride in the stretch. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Keeneland, race 8, $35 to win on 1-Into Mystic.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 5:19 pm ET
$100,000 Danger Hour Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up
The favorite in the Danger Hour is 7-Analyze It, a Chad Brown runner who is plenty good when he’s healthy, but the fact that he has raced just twice since the fall of 2018 shows that he’s not healthy all that often. He last ran six months ago, when he finished a dismal eighth in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, and taking 7/5 on a horse who may have physical problems, and who is coming off a layoff, is unappealing. We are looking elsewhere.
We like another Brown entrant, 8-Delaware, whose last couple of races were nothing to write home about, 8th and 10th place finishes at two stakes in Florida over the winter, but who returns to a turf course where he’s had some success in the past, finishing a very good third, just a neck behind the winner, in the Artie Schiller Stakes at the Big A back in November. So he likes the track, and we also think the pace should favor him, as he’s a closer in a race we are expecting to have swift early fractions. Look for him to be in the rear early, and flying late; we will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $35 to win on 8-Delaware.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:30 pm ET
Grade 3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Ten 3-year-old colts line up for the Lexington. We find it hard to get around favored 7-Proxy, who comes from the Michael Stidham barn with superior speed figures, which are always good, but even better is the fact that the race shape should favor him, as there is a lot of speed in the group, which will play right into his stalking/strong finishing style. When the way the race is run appears to favor the horse who appears to best overall anyway, it’s time to remove the rubber band from the bankroll. We will do just that, and bet Proxy to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $75 to win on 7-Proxy.
Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 5:49 pm ET
$400,000 Oaklawn Mile, 1 mile, Dirt, 4 & Up
A good field of nine lines up for the Oaklawn Mile. We like a runner at a price, 12-The Sound, who has ample speed, and who will have to use it, as he breaks from the outside, and will have to hustle out of the gate to avoid being hung wide around the first turn, which comes up quickly in these two-turn mile races at Oaklawn. He may get the lead, or he may stalk, but either way, we think he’s got a big chance, as we think he just may run back to the big figure he earned three starts back, which makes him a major contender. We will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $30 to win on 12-The Sound.
Keeneland, Race 10, 6:03 pm ET
Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Six go in the Jenny Wiley, and trainer Chad Brown appears to have the nuts, as he sends out the two entrants we like the most. The question is which one to prefer, 2-Tamahere, who stretches out to eight and a half furlongs after running in mile races in her last two starts; or 4-Etoile, who shortens up after running in a pair of races at a mile and a quarter. We prefer the former, as the pace in the Wiley looks like it will be slow, and that will leave Etoile, a deep closer with no early speed, with too much to do in the final quarter mile. Tamahere has much more natural early speed, and we think a more forwardly-placed trip will put her in the winner’s circle. We will bet Tamahere to win at 5/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 19, $40 to win on 2-Tamahere.
Oaklawn Park, Race 13, 7:41 pm ET
Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
5-Concert Tour, who runs for Bob Baffert, is the deserving favorite here, as he’s undefeated in three career starts, and comes off a very impressive win in the Rebel Stakes on March 13. He’s a quality colt, and he has speed, but he also has a bullseye on his back, as everyone in the world knows that when the gates open, he is going right to the front. We find it highly unlikely that the jockeys on the other five entrants are going to concede the early lead to him, as doing so would be handing him the race. We instead see at least one other colt, with the speedy 2-Caddo River being the most likely, gunning early to keep Concert Tour company, and that will lead to unsustainably fast early fractions that will leave the pacesetters gasping for air down the stretch.
We think the horse most likely to take advantage of this kind of pace meltdown is Concert Tour’s stablemate, the long-striding 3-Hozier, the “other Baffert” who has good earned good late-pace figures in his last two starts, and who should be gobbling up ground late. He made a big run in his last start, when he closed from the back of the pack to finish second in the Rebel, to Concert Tour; we think Hozier will turn the tables today. We will bet Hozier to win at 3-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 13, $40 to win on 3-Hozier.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.