Garrity's 12.4 Saturday Stakes: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Los Alamitos Picks, including the Cigar Mile
Plainsman, winning the Discovery back in November 2018, is Garrity's pick in the Cigar Mile.NYRA / Susie Raisher

Garrity's 12.4 Saturday Stakes: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Los Alamitos Picks, including the Cigar Mile

Garrity's first post is at 3:14 pm EST.

December is mostly a quiet month in the Sport of Kings, but its first Saturday is an exception: today a lulu of a day, with a sensationally good card, headlined by the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, at Aqueduct; the Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park; the Grade 1 Starlet for 2-Year-Old FIllies out West at Los Alamitos; and a bevy of other stakes from coast to coast. We have six plays in six races at four tracks; it’s an all-dirt lineup today, and we expect a fast surface in all races. Let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:14 pm ET

Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

Eight juveniles line up for the Remsen. There is usually a lot of projection in races involving juveniles, as these are young horses who are still rapidly developing, and who can and do improve significantly from start to start. One of these colts will step up in a big way to win this race, and the trick is identifying which one.

In the 2021 Remsen, we think there is a good chance it will be 6-Eloquist, who comes off a nice maiden win Oct. 20 at Parx. The speed figure he earned for that effort makes him a contender here, but there are a couple of things other than the fig that make us think he is sitting on a big step forward this afternoon. One is his pedigree, which is good (he’s by Nyquist, out of a Tapit mare); another is way he won that race, closing strongly into a slow pace (this is tough to do, and is the sign of a horse with talent); and the third is that he is trained by Robert Reid, who is supremely skilled. Reid is based at Parx, where he wins at an extremely high percentage (he has a 26% win rate on the year), and he does not ship horses without very good reasons for doing so; the fact that he thinks Eloquist is ready for a Grade 2 in the big leagues off a seemingly nondescript maiden win at a second-string track like Parx is a very positive sign of intent. We think Eloquist is live, and at 12-1, that makes him a terrific play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $35 to win on 6-Eloquist.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:43 pm ET

Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

The Demoiselle, like its companion race the Remsen, drew a field of eight. We are taking a swing with a huge longshot, 8-Full Count Felicia. She has run three races, and has improved steadily in all three, earning a speed figure in her last that puts her on the periphery of contention in this race.

Now for the negatives: she is a maiden, having failed to win any of her three starts; all three of those races were on grass, and this will be her first try on conventional dirt; and while her pedigree is quite good (she’s by War Front, out of a Galileo mare) it seems more suitable for grass than dirt.

So why are we picking this absurd long shot? The first reason is that she appears to have potential; she’s steadily improved all year long, and as a long-striding filly, seems likely to improve further as she matures. Another is the distance: she will absolutely get the nine furlongs of the Remsen, which is not the case with quite a few of the other runners, who seem to have distance limitations. If she can take to running on dirt, and her morning workouts, which are on dirt, seem to indicate that she might, then we think that she has a chance, and we think it’s enough of a chance to bet her, especially considering that she’s 30-1 on the morning line, and may be an even bigger price at post time. We will bet her to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $35 to win on 8-Full Count Felicia.

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 3:59 pm ET

$85,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

This dirt sprint, part of the Claiming Crown card at Gulfstream Park this afternoon, is for horses who have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in the past two years. The program is a fitting showcase for the backbone of the sport, for horses running in claiming races. We tend to focus on stakes and allowance races here, but we fully support recognizing these marvelous claimers.

The Rapid Transit also happens to be a terrific betting race, with a good and evenly matched field of eleven. We like a horse at a price, 2-Star Sign, who cuts back from longer races at Parx to 7 furlongs here. He’s in excellent form, and since there is plenty of speed in the race, we think the race shape will favor his stalking/closing running style. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 2-Star Sign.

Aqueduct, Race 10, 4:13 pm ET

Grade 1 Cigar Mile, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up

A terrific group of eight older horses lines up for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. It’s a sensational race. We like 2-Plainsman, who is as consistent as they come, but who comes off what was for him an uncharacteristically poor race, when a stumble at the start of the Bold Ruler eliminated pretty much any chance he had over a speed-favoring track. With a cleaner break today, he has a very good chance, and at 12-1, that makes him an excellent wager. We will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 10, $35 to win on 2-Plainsman.

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 5:13 pm ET

$150,000 Mistletoe Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Ten sophomore colts line up for the Mistletoe Stakes at Oaklawn Park. We like 8-Mariah’s Princess, who comes off a sharp win in an allowance race at Churchill Downs. This will be her first race around two turns, but she has a terrific pedigree (by Ghostzapper, out of a Street Sense mare), and her breeding suggests that she will be even better in route races than she was sprinting. We will bet her to win at 8-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 8-Mariah’s Princess.

Los Alamitos (Thoroughbred), Race 8, 6:58 pm ET

Grade 1 Starlet Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

A field of six lines up for the Starlet. We like 4-Cairo Memories, who makes her dirt debut today. Her three career starts, all of which were on turf, show some ability, but what makes us like her here is that her pedigree (by Cairo Prince, out of an Indian Charlie mare) seems more oriented to the main track than to grass. Put another way, we think she just may be even better on dirt than she was on turf, and that will make her awfully tough to beat here, especially since this is not the most imposing field ever assembled in a Grade 1 race in California. We will bet Cairo Memories to win at 3-1. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Cairo Memories.

That’s all for today. And that’s also a wrap for the year: We will be away until the start of the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting the day after Christmas. Though that is technically before January 1, we have always considered that day the start of the new racing year, and we are taking a well-needed freshener leading up to it.

Until then, enjoy the racing, be safe, have a wonderful holiday season, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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