Garrity's Saturday Stakes Handicaps 8 big races: Aqueduct picks, Churchill Downs Picks, Del Mar Picks
General Ken, winning the Awad Nov. 5 at Belmont. Garrity likes him today in the Central Park at Aqueduct.NYRA / Chelsea Durand

Garrity's Saturday Stakes Handicaps 8 big races: Aqueduct picks, Churchill Downs Picks, Del Mar Picks

First post is 2:43 pm EDT, the Central Park. Last post is 7:29 pm, the Hollywood Derby.

Today is a big day, with stakes races all over the place, so let’s get right to it. We have plays in eight races, all of them stakes, in New York, Kentucky, and California, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all, except for the grass races at Aqueduct, which will be run on good turf. Let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 2:43 pm ET
$100,000 Central Park Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

Eight 2-year-olds start off the day’s action in the Central Park Stakes at the Big A. We like favored 1-General Ken, who makes the third start of his career, and his first start for new trainer Chad Brown, after winning his first two starts very impressively. We especially like how he won his last, when he closed strongly into a slow pace to take the Awad at Belmont Park three weeks ago. He should get a good trip from his inside post, and will be rolling late. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 1-General Ken.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:43 pm ET

Grade 3 Long Island Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

The featured race in Ozone Park this afternoon is the Long Island, which drew an excellent field of eight. Seven of them are older, 4-year-old fillies and 5-year-old mares, but we like the lone 3-year-old in the group: 3-Harajuku, who disappointed in her last, when she finished seventh in the Sands Point at Belmont Park on Oct. 16. She was wide that day, but still finished only four lengths behind the winner, and that, combined with a stretch-out in distance -- the Sands Point was a mile and an eighth, and the mile and a half here should suit her much better -- has us thinking that she will rebound. She showed a lot of talent in France earlier this year, running very well against some very tough competition, and looks poised today to show it. We will bet her to win at 8-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Harajuku.

Churchill Downs, Race 10, 5:27 pm ET

Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Eight go in the Golden Rod, but we have eyes for only one: it’s 4-Sandstone, who won her last start, the Rags to Riches Stakes on Oct. 31, by an eye-popping 10 ½ lengths. We like that her final time for that effort was very fast; we like that the race was around two turns, as is this race; and we like that she has already won twice at Churchill Downs. Sandstone simply looks better than the rest, so we will bet her to win at 8/5. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 10, $40 to win on 4-Sandstone.

Churchill Downs, Race 11, 5:56 pm ET

Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

A full field of fourteen juvenile colts lines up for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, a sensational betting race. We like a big price, 13-Mannix, who began his career in Ireland, where he was just OK in three turf races earlier this year. He was brought to the U.S. in the fall, and broke his maiden on the new synthetic surface at Gulfstream Park on Oct. 31. We like the way this colt ran that day, earning a competitive speed figure, but what we like most about his chances today is the surface over which he will run: he has yet to run on conventional dirt, but he has a couple of dirt workouts in recent weeks that look very good, and while at first glance, his pedigree says turf, a closer look suggests that he just might be a dirt runner. Is Mannix a sure thing? No. But he looks to be a win contender, especially since the early pace looks fast, which will favor his closing running style, and at 20-1, that’s enough for us: we will bet him to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 11, $35 to win on 13-Mannix.

Churchill Downs, Race 12, 6:24 pm ET

$200,000 Fern Creek Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Eight 2-year-old fillies go in the Fern Creek. We like the one on the outside, 8-Sweet Dani Girl, who has earned excellent speed figures in her two career starts, both of which she won, and who has a stalking running style, and an outside post, that are both advantages, especially in tandem. The speed of the race is clearly 4-Verylittlecents; we see Sweet Dani Girl sitting off her flank early, and taking control of this race down the stretch. We will bet Sweet Dani Girl to win at 5/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 12, $40 to win on 8-Sweet Dani Girl.

Del Mar, Race 5, 5:32 pm ET

Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

It seems that trainers based on the East Coast have recognized the weakness of the turf horses, as a group, in California, because of the Seabiscuit’s seven entrants, three of them are based in New York: Chad Brown, who starts two, and Mike Maker, who runs the other, seem to grasp that these stakes races are there for the taking. We think the winner will be one of these three invaders, but the question is which one?

We think it will be 7-Sacred Life. He is a quality horse, having won the Knickerbocker at Belmont Park in his last start, but what gives him the edge to us here is the way we think the race will be run: the pace should be fast, as there are a couple of runners with speed, and that will set up Sacred Life’s closing kick, which is the best in the field. He will probably be last early, but we think he will be first where it matters, and we will bet Sacred Life to win at 8/5. The bet: Del Mar, Race 5, $40 to win on 7-Sacred Life.

Del Mar, Race 7, 6:31 pm ET

Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies

A deep group of eleven 2-year-old turf fillies goes in the Jimmy Durante. We like 10-Sparkle Blue, who starts for trainer Graham Motion. Motion is based on the East Coast, but he ran her in an allowance race at Del Mar the week of the Breeders Cup, and she won that day very smartly. With Sparkle Blue doing west in the California sunshine, we like that Motion kept her out there, rather than bringing her back East. Look for Sparkle Blue to be toward the rear early, and rolling late; we will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $35 to win on 10-Sparkle Blue.

Del Mar, Race 9, 7:29 pm ET

Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

We are old enough to remember when the big event on Thanksgiving weekend was the Autumn Turf Festival at Hollywood Park. Though that beautiful and historic track in Inglewood is now gone, with a football stadium where the infield chute used to be, it is good to see that the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, which was a festival headliner, is still around, and it’s equally good to see that it drew a strong field of twelve turf runners. A couple of them are East Coast horses -- Chad Brown starts a pair -- but we are playing against the shippers, and doing so with 12-Subconscious, who starts for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. He’s a well-bred colt who took a while to get going, not breaking his maiden until August, but since then has been quite good, winning an allowance and the Grade 2 Twilight Derby, both in October. He’s a late-blooming 3-year-old, and while these types are always dangerous this time of year, the fact that he is conditioned for Mandella, who is as good as it gets in this game, makes him doubly so. He has enough speed for jockey JJ Hernandez to negotiate a good trip from his outside post; we will bet Subconscious to win at 4-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 12-Subconscious.

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

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