Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks a 6-pack of races at Belmont and Keeneland, likes Channel Maker, Althiqa, more
We have surely made it into the heart of the fall racing season, because there are stakes races all over, including some pretty good graded stakes in New York and Kentucky, where some key Breeders Cup prep races will be run this afternoon. We have six plays today for this October Saturday, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 6, 3:15 pm ET
Grade 3 Matron Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies
An even dozen juvenile fillies line up for the Matron. We see a hot early pace, and that has us taking a stab with the only runner with a good late-pace number: it’s 12-Gal in a Rush, who so far has been in no rush early, falling well behind in both of her career starts, and then twice rallying strongly down the stretch. That running style is a fit here, we think, as is her trainer, turf ace Christophe Clement. There is some question about whether her lack of speed will give her too much to do, too ground to make up, but she’s 30-1 on the morning line, and we think that price makes it worth taking a shot that she can do it. We will bet her to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 6, $30 to win on 12-Gal in a Rush.
Belmont Park, Race 7, 3:47 pm ET
Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 3 & Up
The Hirsch is a major race in its own right, a Grade 1 stakes at a mile and a half on grass, the classic distance, the world over, for turf races. The first thing we noticed about it, however, in the first pass through the past performances, was how little speed there is in the seven older horses entered: there are a couple of very good closers, but the early pace looks on paper to be slow, probably glacially slow, and that will, we think, give a big tactical advantage to 6-Channel Maker, who is the pick. He figures to get the lead very comfortably, essentially galloping for the first mile, and from there it will be a half-mile dash in which he has both a significant head start and plenty of gas in the tank to fend off the come-from-behinders. Channel Maker has shown before that he can win when loose on an easy lead, and that is the scenario we envision today. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Channel Maker.
Keeneland, Race 7, 4:12 pm ET
Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Six go here. It’s an interesting race to handicap because 7/5 morning line favorite 6-Bell’s the One fits on form, but she’s a closer, and the Keeneland main track yesterday favored speed in a significant way. Bell’s the One may be good enough to overcome the track being slanted against her, but at a short price, we think she’s a bet-against, and that makes this race a good wagering opportunity.
We are going with a straight-down-the-line speed play, in the form of 3-Inthemidstofbiz. She comes into this race off a layoff, but she did win this race last year, and did so by utilizing her abundant early speed. We see a similar scenario, and a similar result, today. We think she can wire this group, and that makes her 10-1 morning line price very attractive. We will bet her to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $35 to win on 3-Inthemidstofbiz.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET
Grace 1 The First Lady Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A very good field of thirteen lines up for the First Lady, but we didn’t have to look very far to find the likeliest winner: It’s 3-Althiqa, the Godolphin homebred filly who comes off two consecutive Grade 1 wins in the Just a Game and the Diana, at Belmont Park and Saratoga, respectively. Trainer Charlie Appleby took her back to Europe after her win in the Diana, where the plan was evidently to train her up to the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf next month; but Appleby brought her back to the U.S., and entered her in this race, presumably because she is doing so well that she needs to run. That is very bad news for the rest of this field, because If Althiqa is on her game today, then they are all running for second money, especially since Althiqa will get the firm ground she likes, and over which she may be even better than she was in her starts in New York. Add it all up, and Althiqa looks to be much the best; we will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $50 to win on 3-Althiqa.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:15 pm ET
Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
The Breeders’ Futurity drew 13 juveniles, and as a result is a terrific race from both a sporting and wagering perspective. We like the colt all the way on the outside, 13-Classic Causeway, who has run just once, but it was a doozy, when he earned a big speed figure winning a maiden race at Saratoga a month ago. He will have to negotiate the outside post, which is a tactical disadvantage, but his abundant early speed will help him do so, and will also be an asset on the speed-favoring Keeneland dirt. Look for him to be up front early; we hope he will be in front at the end, as well, and will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 13-Classic Causeway.
Keeneland, Race 10, 5:46 pm ET
Grade 1 Keeneland Turf Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
Thirteen older horses line up for the Keeneland Turf Mile, and we think the result will be a continuation of a pattern that has occurred with some regularity in North American stakes racing this year, which is European horses proving that they are superior to Americans on turf. That means the pick is 10-Order of Australia, who has had a fine season in Europe, running very competitively in elite stakes races in Ireland, England, and France, after winning last year’s Breeders Cup Mile on this Keeneland turf course. We are not going to try to overcomplicate this: Order of Australia is the best horse, he comes into this race in fine form, and this field is significantly weaker than what he has been facing in Europe. That adds up to a wager: his post-time odds will be lower than his 7/2 morning line; we will bet him to win anyway. The bet: Keeneland, Race 10, $50 to win on 10-Order of Australia.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.