Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Belmont, Woodbine, Santa Anita & the Mint Julep at Churchill Downs
Juliet Foxtrot is the ML favorite in the Mint Julep Stakes at Churchill Downs. Garrity is betting against her.@ChurchillDowns on Twitter

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Belmont, Woodbine, Santa Anita & the Mint Julep at Churchill Downs

Garrity's first post is at 4:06 pm EDT.

The big news in the racing world is the return of Woodbine in suburban Toronto, which kicks off a pandemic-delayed, 99-day meeting that will run through December. We like the turf racing up there, and It is unmitigated good news that it is back.

Otherwise, though, the stakes schedule is fairly light. We’ve found plays in five races, three of them stakes, across this great continent. We expect fast dirt and firm turf, except where noted, so let’s go.

Belmont Park, Race 7, 4:06 pm ET

Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of nine lines up for this first-level allowance dirt sprint for fillies and mares. We like 1-Entreat, a Chad Brown trainee who has just one career start, but it was a good one, a win in a tough maiden race at Churchill Downs back in September. She won stalking that day, sitting just behind the speed and rallying down the stretch, and we see a similar scenario here. She’s coming off the layoff and drew the rail, both of which she will have to overcome, but she’s a well-bred filly who still seems, even at 4 years old, to have quite a bit of potential. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 7, $35 to win on 1-Entreat.

Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40pm ET
$100,000 Dancin Renee Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Six go in the Dancin Renee. The pick is 6-Espresso Shot, and it’s a strong one: her last two races on fast dirt, which she will get today, have been excellent, clearly good enough to win here, and she should get a perfect trip, as she’s a pace-presser who will sit behind two speedballs, 4-Ruvies in Time and 5-Sadie Lady. If one were to draw up the perfect trip for a horse with a stalking running style, it would be to draw just outside two horses who will engage in a speed duel, and that is exactly the scenario Espresso Shot will get today. The arithmetic is simple: the best horse plus the best trip equals a trip to the winner’s circle for the horse, and a trip to the windows for us. We will bet Espresso Shot to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Espresso Shot.

Woodbine, Race 9, 5:22 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 ½ furlongs, Turf, FIllies & Mares 3 & Up

This second-level allowance race for turf females drew a field of nine. We like 5-Another Time. She’s a 5-year-old mare who has been running against much tougher company in graded stakes in her last four starts, and this gives her a class edge. We also like the distance: her last two turf starts were in longer races, but the 7 ½ furlongs here is right in her wheelhouse. Look for her to be just behind the first flight of horses early, to move to the front at the top of the stretch, and to hold off the closers late. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 9, $35 to win on 5-Another Time.

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

$100,000 Thor’s Echo Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, California-breds 4 & Up

The Thor’s Echo is a race worth watching if only because of the presence of 5-Brickyard Ride, one of the fastest horses around. He’s run some insanely fast early fractions in his races this year, including an incendiary first quarter mile in 21 flat in the Kona Gold Stakes two back. We think he’s a play-against here, because he’s coming off a dismally bad race, when he lost an allowance at 1/5 odds, but it will be fun to see just how fast he goes early.

We like 3-Fashionably Fast. He is not fast enough, fashionably or otherwise, to keep up with Brickyard Ride, but he should be able to settle in not too far behind, and to move forward from that stalking spot when the speed begins to slow down. He’s been running in the much deeper waters of open company, meaning horses bred in other states, and we think he’ll find these Cal-breds much easier pickings. We will bet Fashionably Fast to win at 2-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Fashionably Fast.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 10:11 pm ET
Grade 3 Old Forester Mint Julep Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

The Mint Julep drew a field of eleven, and it’s a terrific race from both a sporting and wagering standpoint. The chalk is 2-Juliet Foxtrot, who is coming off a terrific win in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland, and while she's certainly a deserving favorite, we are going to try to beat her, as she’s a front-runner, and there are others in the field with that same style.

We like 8-Tuned. She is a Graham Motion trainee with a very strong late kick, and we think the shape of the race will favor it, with a strong early pace that sets up her powerful stretch run. She’ll probably be last early, but we think she’ll be first where it matters. We will bet her to win at 12-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $35 to win on 8-Tuned.

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

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