Sunday at the Track: With winter returning to the East, Garrity picks races at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita
Racing in the sunshine at Santa Anita Park.@santaanitapark on Twitter

Sunday at the Track: With winter returning to the East, Garrity picks races at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita

Garrity's first post is 3:50 pm EDT.

The stakes schedule is light today, which is probably a blessing in disguise, at least along the East Coast, where the worst Memorial Day weekend weather in recent memory, or even in distant memory, is wreaking havoc with racing conditions up and down the coast. But we’ve managed to dope out a handful of plays at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita, both of which will be free of weather woes. We expect fast and firm in all four races, so let’s go.

Churchill Downs, Race 7. 3:50 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Though the turf at Churchill Downs was listed as firm late Sunday morning, it should have a bit of give to it, as it rained quite a bit in Northern Kentucky late last week. That, we think, is going to make it harder for any of this group of nine turf females to win on the front end: The ground will have just a tiny bit of cut to it, which will favor speed less than rock-hard turf does. We’re looking for a come-from behinder, and that makes the pick 8-Guitty, a 4-year-old French-bred filly who has been running in some pretty prestigious stakes races in California. She’s in a new barn, today starting for new conditioner Mike Maker, and her recent morning drills suggest she is ready to fire. And her closing kick is among the best in the field. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 7, $35 to win on 8-Guitty.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 ⅛ miles, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of ten goes to the gate in this filly and mare maiden affair. We’re all over 8-Transient, a 3-year-old English-bred filly with a terrific European turf pedigree, who has run three races in her brief career, and failed to win one of them not because she didn’t run well, but because of the competition she’s faced: In her last start, she finished behind Gam’s Mission, who merely won the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs yesterday. The second-place finisher in that race, a filly named Speed Lane, has also come back to win since, which means Transient is coming out of a key race, and is worth a play on that basis alone. The fact that her speed and pace figures mark her as superior to the other runners just seals the deal, as it were, and provide a pretty good excuse for loosening the rubber band around the bankroll. We will bet Transient to win at 3-1, and we will do so with gusto. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $60 to win on 8-Transient.

Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 7:21 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This second-level allowance on the turf drew a field of seven older females. We like 3-Keep Dancing, who broke her maiden in her last start quite smartly, coming from well off the pace to prevail by three lengths on May 9. While a repeat of that effort may be good enough to beat this group, we think she’s going to run better, as she’s fairly lightly raced, and as a 4-year-old still seems to have a bit of upside. And trainer Kristin Mulhall’s barn has gotten a little bit hot lately, which certainly doesn’t hurt. We will bet Keep Dancing to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Keep Dancing.

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:52 pm ET

Grade 2 Summertime Oaks, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 8:26 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, California-breds 3 & Up

The day’s lone graded stakes race, at Santa Anita or anywhere else in North America, is the Summertime Oaks, a race whose name is ironic considering that along the beaches of the East, it feels more like early March than early summer. But it will feel summer-like in the San Gabriel Valley, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s.

The hot favorite is 4-Soothsay, who is undefeated in two career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, and looks to make it three in a row by beating four overmatched fillies in this spot (it actually looks like she’s going to have to fall down to lose). At 4/5 odds, she is not particularly attractive as a win proposition, but there is value in every winner, and we will try to leverage her price by playing her in the Double comprising the Summertime Oaks and Race 9, a first-level allowance for Cal-breds. The pick in the 9th is 1-George Herman Ruth, who seems to be rounding into form as a 4-year-old after being away from the races for over a year. This is his third start since returning in March, and there appears to be enough speed in the field to set up his strong stretch run. We will play Soothsay and George Herman Ruth in the Double. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 9, $30 Double, 4 (Soothsay) with 1 (George Herman Ruth).

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

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