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Garrity's Sunday Stakes picks races at Saratoga, Del Mar and opening day at Kentucky Downs

Garrity's first post is 5:50 pm EDT.

The big news today in our little corner of the world is that this Sunday is opening day at Kentucky Downs. The meet there is brief, just six days this year, and all races are on grass, run over the track’s European-style, undulating turf course. But what we like most about the racing there is the stakes action: There is a lot of it, and the purses, which are mammoth due to slot subsidies, attract big fields, which make for terrific betting contests.

We have four plays today, one on each coast and a pair in Kentucky, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.

Kentucky Downs, Race 9, 5:50 EDT

$500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks, 1 5/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Dueling Grounds Oaks drew a field of nine. We like 6-Adventuring, a Brad Cox trainee who has run two good races since being moved to the turf two starts back. She is a homebred owned by the Godolphin stable, and like all Godolphin horses, she possesses a terrific pedigree. But what makes us give her the edge here is the distance: None of these 3-year-old fillies have run farther than a mile and an eighth before, and Adventuring has breeding that suggests she will take to this longer distance like a duck takes to water. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Adventuring.

Saratoga, Race 11, 6:11 pm ET

Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Nine juvenile fillies line up for the Spinaway. The prevalence of precious fillies with abundant early speed, and the fact that they’re all stretching out the race’s 7 furlong distance – none of them have run this far before – has us thinking of a pace meltdown, and a winner overtaking tiring speedsters down the stretch. We think that will be 6-Dream Lith, who broke her maiden in her career debut at Saratoga on August 8, and who did so quite impressively for trainer Robertino Diodoro. She has a terrific pedigree, by Medaglia d’Oro out of a Street Cry mare, and what we like about that is that the breeding suggests she will be better going long than sprinting. That she was able to win a 6 furlong race at first asking shows she might be something special. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 11, $35 to win on 6-Dream Lith.

Kentucky Downs, Race 10, 6:25 ET

$750,000 Big Ass Fans Dueling Grounds Derby, 1 5/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

A very deep group of twelve 3-year-olds goes in the Dueling Grounds Derby. With most of the group looking to want no part of a race this long, we are going with a giant price, 6-Red Hornet, whose pedigree (by English Channel, out of a Kitten’s Joy mare) and running record suggest that he will thrive at the mile and five-sixteenths distance. We also think his last race, when he ran a close fifth in a minor stakes race at Ellis Park, was better than it looked, as he made an eye-catching move into a very slow pace, but was unable to close the deal. We think he’s in with a shot in this race, and at 30-1, we will play him to win. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 10, $40 to win on 6-Red Hornet.

Del Mar, Race 9, 8:37 pm ET

$100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Eleven go in this turf stakes for juvenile fillies. We like the one all the way on the outside, 11-Helens Well, who we think would be a much shorter price than her 7/2 morning line number if she’d drawn a less disadvantageous post. But we trust jockey Flavien Prat to negotiate a good trip for her, and if he does so, Helens Well is strictly the one to beat. We will bet her to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 11-Helens Well.

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

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