Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Laurel Park, Keeneland, Belmont, including the Hill Prince, Raven Run
Tamahere, winning the Sands Point last October. Garrity is picking against her today.NYRA

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Laurel Park, Keeneland, Belmont, including the Hill Prince, Raven Run

First post is 3:57 pm EDT.

We have a pretty good mixed bag of stakes racing today, with plays in five races in Maryland, Kentucky, in New York. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so let’s go.

Laurel Park, Race 9, 3:57 pm ET
$100,000 Maryland Million Turf, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

It’s Maryland Million day at Laurel Park, the second-biggest day for racing in Maryland, behind only the Preakness. The Turf goes as Race 9 on the stakes-studded card, and it has a full field of ten, which makes it a good betting event.

We like 5-Somekindofmagician, who finished third in his last start, an allowance at Delaware Park, a race in which he started slowly and mounted a late rally that came up just short. Considering that the distance of that race was 7 ½ furlongs, a bit shorter than he probably wants, we think that was a good effort, and that should set him up quite nicely for the mile and an eighth here. Another plus is that he’s a strong finisher in a field filled with cheap speed. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Laurel Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 5-Somekindofmagician.

Keeneland, Race 7, 4:12 pm ET

$150,000 Perryville Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-olds

Keeneland runs a pair of 7 furlong dirt stakes for 3-year-olds today, and the Perryville, which drew a field of nine colts, is the first. We think the pace will be very fast in this race, which makes the choice 6-Pipeline, who earned very fast 97 Beyer Speed Figures in each of his last two starts. The figures by themselves mark him as a contender, but what makes Pipeline even more dangerous is that he’s a stalker, likely to sit just behind what figures to be very quick early fractions, and the shape of the race figures to favor that running style. Sometimes in this game we have to choose between a horse who appears superior, but looks to have a disadvantageous trip; and a horse who may not be quite as good, but who the pace will favor. That’s not the case here: The horse who looks best seems likely to be favored by the way the race will be run. That calls for loosening the rubber band around the bankroll; we will bet Pipeline to win, with the understanding that 4-1 morning line odds will be significantly lower at post time (we think he will go off as the favorite). The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $50 to win on 6-Pipeline.

Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:21 pm ET
Grade 3 Noble Damsel Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of nine lines up for the Noble Damsel. We are against favored 10-Tamahere, a Chad Brown entrant who comes into this race off a win in a minor stakes at Monmouth Park, as she had everything her own way in that race, leading all the way while running very comfortable fractions. She is unlikely to get such a soft trip here, and is therefore likely to run worse. At a short price, that makes her a play-against, and we are throwing her out.

We like another Chad Brown runner, 6-Love and Thunder. She’s an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly with a terrific turf pedigree, who was brought to the U.S. this spring after beginning her career in England. She’s mostly had “seconditis” on this side of the pond, finishing as the runner up in her first American starts, but finally broke through in her last, smartly winning an allowance race at Belmont Park on Oct. 1. It seems to us that she has turned the corner, and that makes her very dangerous here, at very appealing odds of 5-1. We will bet her to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Love and Thunder.

Belmont Park, Race 9, 4:52 pm ET

Grade 2 Hill Prince Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

A good group of eleven 3-year-old colts lines up for the Hill Prince. The pick is 11-Soldier Rising, who was last seen running third in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational a month ago. The impressive winner of that race was Yibir, a Godolphin colt who would probably be odds-on in this race, so it is Soldier Rising’s credit that he finished just two lengths behind Yibir last out. Soldier Rising seems to be an improving 3-year-old, and while they are always dangerous, they are particularly dangerous this time of year. Look for him to be toward the rear early, and to take the Hill Prince with a powerful late move. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 11-Soldier Rising.

Keeneland, Race 9, 5:16 pm ET

Grade 3 Raven Run Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old FIllies

The Raven Run is a terrific race to handicap, as it’s got a big field, thirteen sophomore fillies, and there are many different ways we could go in assessing them as a group. The route we are taking is a late-blooming filly at a price: it’s 5-Strong Silent, who didn’t make her first start until July, but who has done quite a lot right since then, breaking her maiden at Ellis Park on Aug. 1, and backing that up with a very good allowance win at Churchill Downs on Sept. 17. What we particularly like about her form is that she has improved in every one of her three career starts, and further improvement here makes her a contender -- and as we mentioned earlier, 3-year-olds can move forward in leaps and bounds during the fall. That makes her 15-1 morning line number too good for us to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $35 to win on 5-Strong Silent.

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

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