Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Monmouth, Saratoga, Del Mar, including the Vanderbilt, Jim Dandy, Bing Crosby
A rare shot of Mischevious Alex not running fast.NYRA / Dom Napolitano

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Monmouth, Saratoga, Del Mar, including the Vanderbilt, Jim Dandy, Bing Crosby

Garrity's first post is 4:33 pm EDT.

There are many good stakes races on this summer Saturday, and we have plays in five of them, including two Grade 1 sprint races, the Vanderbilt at Saratoga and the Bing Crosby at Del Mar. It looks like an excellent day of racing. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.

Monmouth Park, Race 10, 4:33 pm ET

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

The Monmouth Oaks drew a good field of nine. One of them, 2-Midnight Obsession, is one of the unluckiest horses we can remember in quite some time: She’s run four times, and the track has come up wet for all four of them. That would be great if off tracks were her favored running surface, but we think that she actually wants fast dirt -- and the fact that she will get it here makes her the play, and a strong one. We liked this angle in her last start, the Delaware Oaks, so of course it rained and the track came up good; it will not rain today, and that means she will get the fast conditions she has been waiting for, and that we are going to the windows. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 2-Midnight Obsession.

Saratoga, Race 8, 5:03 pm ET
Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

The Vanderbilt is one of the premier sprints on the East Coast, so it is unsurprising that it drew a deep and talented field of nine. 2-Mischevious Alex is the pick, and a strong one: he has run four times this year, with his only loss in his last start, when he ran a very good third in the Met Mile at Belmont on June 2. We think his effort that day was excellent, and the only reason he didn’t win is that the mile distance was a bit too far for him. At this shorter 6 furlong distance, however, he is a beast; look for him to win with a pace-pressing trip from his inside post position. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-Mischevious Alex.

Saratoga, Race 9, 5:39 pm ET

Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Just six go in the Jim Dandy, and the short field is presumably due to the presence of 5-Essential Quality, who is 1/2 coming off his win in the Belmont Stakes, which was impressive both visually and against the clock. We will be blunt: If he runs the way he did in the Belmont, he will win.

But there are a couple of reasons to suspect that Essential Quality may be vulnerable in the Jim Dandy. The first is his last race: He was all out to win the Belmont, and it is fair to question whether he will have recovered fully from what had to be a severely taxing effort. The other question, and to us the bigger one, is that this is not his primary objective: That would be the Travers in four weeks, and the Jim Dandy is merely a prep race for it. Essential Quality is going to be 1/5, and there is nothing wrong with taking a shot against a price that short, especially when he may not be fit, and his human connections may not even care if he wins or loses.

We like 2-Masqueparade. He comes off a sharp win in the Ohio Derby, which was at this 9 furlong distance, and seems to have both the ability and the running style to win this race. He’s 4-1 on the morning line, and we will play him with the expectation that his odds will be a bit higher by post time. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $35 to win on 2-Masqueparade.

Saratoga, Race 10, 6:13 pm ET

Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 4 & Up

The Bowling Green, which drew a field of eight, is a terrific betting race. We are taking a shot with 2-Breakpoint, a 4-year-old from the Chad Brown barn, who was undefeated in five starts in his native Chile before being brought north of the equator this past spring. He lost his U.S. debut, an allowance at Belmont Park a month ago, and while we think his effort that day was better than it looks on paper -- he persevered well despite blowing the break and going wide all the way around the track -- what really makes us like him is his trainer: The logical spot to run Breakpoint back would be in another allowance race, so if Chad Brown thinks he’s ready for a Grade 2 stakes, that’s good enough for us. We think he’s very live, and that makes his 10-1 morning line price very attractive. We will bet him to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 10, $35 to win on 2-Breakpoint.

Del Mar, Race 10, 9:39 pm ET

Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

A field of nine lines up for the Bing Crosby, one of the top sprints all year out West. The early pace looks somewhere between fast and very fast, which makes the pick the stretch-running 3-C Z Rocket. He comes off a third-place finish in a stakes race at Lone Star Park in Texas, but that race was at a mile, and run in the slop; this 6 furlong distance and the fast track will be much more to his liking. And he should get an ideal trip, sitting behind fast fractions that will set the table for his powerful late run. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 10, $40 to win on 3-C Z Rocket.

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

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