Garrity's Memorial Day Stakes picks races at Santa Anita Park and Lone Star Park, including the Texas Derby
Honor the fallen during the day and first post is at 7:18 pm EDT.
For this Memorial Day, we have six terrific races, three Grade 1s from Santa Anita, and a trio of stakes from Lone Star Park in Texas. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all six, so let’s go.
Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 7:18 pm ET
Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
The Shoemaker Mile drew a field of seven veteran turf specialists. We’re against favored 2-Smooth Like Strait, not because there’s anything wrong with his form, but because we think whatever edge he has on the rest of the field is far too slight to justify his miserly 4/5 morning line price. He’s an underlay, and one of the very few hard-and-fast rules in this game is that one always plays against underlays.
We like 3-Crossfirehurricane. He’s a Kentucky-bred who has run six times, all in Ireland, where he amassed four wins in six starts. As a 4-year-old, he seems to be entering his physical prime, and we think a mile on firm turf will be right up his alley. And because he has no established U.S. form, his price is a positively juicy 12-1. We will bet him to win. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 7, $35 to win on 3-Crossfirehurricane.
Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:51 pm ET
Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, 1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
Seven go in the Gold Cup. We like the runner on the outside, 7-Express Train. He shipped to Oaklawn Park for his last start, when he finished a very good second in the Oaklawn Handicap, so he should be razor sharp for this spot. We also like his ability at this 10 furlong distance, as several of the other contenders have either pedigrees or race records that suggest that a mile and a quarter may be a bit farther than they really want to go. We will bet Express Train to win at 2-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Express Train.
Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 8:24 pm ET
Grade 1 Gamely Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
5-Red Lark is an admirable, consistent racehorse, an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly, trained by Patrick Gallagher, who runs the same race virtually every time: She drops far back and makes a late run from the back of the pack. She doesn’t win all that much, but she tries every time she steps foot on the track.
We think today the stars are going to align for her: The pace in the Gamely looks somewhere between fast and very fast, and we think that will favor her closing style. She showed last year, when she won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, that she can win a big race, and we also like the fact that this mile and an eighth distance appears to be her best, as she has two wins in four career starts at nine furlongs. She’s 12-1, and we will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Santa Anita, Race 9, $30 to win/$15 to place on 5-Red Lark.
Lone Star Park, Race 9, 7:31 pm ET
$300,000 Texas Derby, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A good field of ten 3-year-olds lines up for the Texas Derby. The pick is 5-Warrant, who finished second in the Oaklawn Stakes in his last. He earned a good speed figure for that effort, but what really makes us fancy him is the horse he finished behind that day: It was Fulsome, who on Saturday won the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs, demolishing a pretty good field and looking like a potential star. It appears to us that Warrant, who like Fulsome is trained by Brad Cox, is sitting on a big race here, and that makes him the play at 7/2. We will bet him to win. The bet: Lone Star Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Warrant.
Lone Star Park, Race 10, 8:03 pm ET
$200,000 Ouija Board Distaff, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The favorite in the Ouija Board is 1-Laura’s Light, a Peter Miller trainee who ships to Texas from Southern California, where she has been running in some pretty tough graded stakes on the turf.
But we think she is vulnerable, as she is a pace-presser, and there is ample speed among the other six entrants. We do not see Laura’s Light getting the early lead, but we think she will get sucked into chasing fractions that are too fast, and that she will consequently be too close to an early fractions that will leave the pacesetters and pace-pressers alike gasping for air down the stretch. We think the race will set up for a closer, and that makes Laura’s Light, at even money, a strong play-against.
We like 7-Tuned. While she has not exactly been a win machine for Graham Motion, she has been competitive against some pretty salty fields in Kentucky and Florida. We think she looks capable against this group, especially since the race shape should favor her stretch-running style. We also note that trainer Motion has only one starter on the Lone Star card, and while trainer intent is no guarantee, the conclusion we draw is that Motion, a terrific trainer and one of the sport’s unqualified good guys, did not ship her all the way to Texas because he thinks she’ll run sixth. We will bet Tuned to win at 7/2. The bet: Lone Star, Race 10, $40 to win on 7-Tuned.
Lone Star Park, Race 11, 8:35 pm ET
Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile, 1 mile, DIrt, 3 & Up
The Sexton drew a terrific field of eight. There’s a lot of speed, including the blazingly fast 4-Warrior’s Charge and 8-C Z Rocket, a stretch-out sprinter from California, and we think the fast pace that their presence virtually guarantees will create a perfect setup for 1-Silver Prospector, who has run two good races in a row against very tough fields at Oaklawn Park. He should get a dream trip here, sitting just behind the pacesetters and saving ground from his rail post, ready to pounce when the field turns for home. He’s a good horse who figures to get the best trip, from both a pace and trip standpoint, and while we think he will be a lower price than his 6-1 morning line odds, we think he’s an excellent play on top nonetheless. We will bet him to win. The bet: Lone Star, Race 11, $40 to win on 1-Silver Prospector.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.