Garrity's Sunday Stakes picks Monmouth & Santa Anita, hopes a big longshot knocks out Raging Bull at Belmont
To paraphrase the late, very great Ralph Kiner, on this Father’s Day, we’d like to wish all the dads out there a happy birthday. It’s a special day, and one with a very close connection to horse racing, as the number of people who became fans of the Sport of Kings after being taken to the track as youngsters by their fathers is a long one. We almost never give advice, but here’s one nugget we are happy to share: Take a kid to the track.
There’s a good lineup of stakes action across the country today, especially at Santa Anita, where it is closing day. We have four plays in four races, all stakes and all on turf, and we expect firm conditions in each of them. Let’s go.
Monmouth Park, Race 11, 5:02 pm ET
Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A full field of twelve turf females lines up for the Eatontown. The pick is 5-Micheline, a Michael Stidham trainee, who was last seen running a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland in April. We are drawing a line through that race, as it was run over yielding turf, and soft going has never been Micheline’s forte. On firmer ground, though, which she will get today, she has been excellent, and she has enough tactical speed to work out a good trip, especially if, as we think will be the case, the early pace is slow enough to compromise the chances of the deep closers. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 11, $40 to win on 5-Micheline.
Belmont Park, Race 9, 5:12 pm ET
Grade 3 Poker Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up
The headliner of the Poker is 1-Raging Bull, a French-bred 6-year-old from the Chad Brown barn, who comes into this off a sensationally good win in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland in April, which was his first race since last fall. Make no mistake: if he runs back to that race, he will win here, probably very comfortably.
But with Raging Bull a cinch to be a very short price -- he’s even money on the morning line, and figures to be something like 3/5 at post time -- there is nothing wrong with taking a shot against him. Which we will do in the form of 7-Raased. He is a well-bred 5-year-old with only three career starts, a sign that he’s had some physical problems, but he really has done nothing wrong in his limited experience, winning two of his three races, including taking a maiden race on turf at Tampa Bay Downs two back. Raased has speed, and if the pace of this race is slow, as as been the case in so many turf races in New York of late, he just might get a walking lead, and be very tough to catch. We wouldn't like him at a shorter price, but at 50-1, we think he is worth a flutter, and will bet him to win and to place. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $25 to win/$10 to place on 7-Raased.
Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 7:21 pm ET
Grade 3 American Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
The American drew a field of six. The 4/5 morning line favorite is 3-Neptune’s Storm, whose last race was a very impressive fourth place finish in the $700,000 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs last September. He is good, and could win this, but from a wagering standpoint, we are thoroughly against him, as he comes into this race off a layoff, makes his first start for new trainer Peter Miller, and most important, the races at Kentucky Downs last year were highly fluky, with most horses failing to replicate their form when when they later raced elsewhere. Taking a short price on a horse on the off chance he may be as good as he was in a race at an oddball track nine months ago… well, we will respectfully pass.
We like 2-Restrainedvengence. Unlike the favorite, he has form that is as recent as it is good, as he comes into this race off a very sharp third-place finish in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on May 31. We also like his running style: he’s a strong finisher, but he also has a good high cruising speed, which should allow jockey Tyler Baze to secure good tactical position early, and avoid having to make up too much ground at the top of the stretch. We see Restrainedvengence sitting in the group just behind the leaders, moving to the front in mid-stretch, and holding off the closers late. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Restrainedvengence.
Santa Anita, Race 9, 8:28 pm ET
Grade 3 Wilshire Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Eight go in the Wilshire. With most of the fillies and mares making up the field having the same fast early/slow late running style, we are anticipating a rapid early pace, and a winner coming from behind, possibly far behind. We think that will be 7-Stela Star, who has been away from the races for a long time, last running in the Honeymoon in May of last year. While the layoff is a concern, her recent works, plus trainer John Sadler’s good record with horses coming off the bench, make us think that she is ready; and we also think that the fast early pace will help her, will favor her come-from-behind running style. She’s probably going to be last early, but we think she will be first where it counts, which makes her 4-1 morning line price very appealing. We’ll aim to end the marathon Santa Anita meeting on a good note, in the form of Stela Star, who we will bet to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Stela Star.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.