Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Aqueduct, Oaklawn, the Fair Grounds Lecomte, a Kentucky Derby prep, and more

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Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Aqueduct, Oaklawn, the Fair Grounds Lecomte, a Kentucky Derby prep, and more

Garrity's first post 3:20 pm EST. Last post 7:20 pm.

The track with the best racing today is the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where the Lecomte Stakes headlines a terrific 14-race card. We have plays in three races from the Big Easy, plus one each from Aqueduct and Oaklawn, for a total of five plays on this frigid winter Saturday. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all five, so let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 3:20 pm ET
$100,000 Jazil Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

Seven intrepid older horses, and their intrepid riders, will take to the bitter cold to run nine furlongs in the Jazil at Aqueduct, where the temperature will be in the mid-20s. We think speed will be good on the Big A dirt today, so we are going with a straight-down-the-line speed play, in the form of 5-Core Conviction, who should get the early lead easily, and who we think will stay in front all the way around the track. He’s a 5-year-old gelding with only three career starts, so he’s obviously had some physical problems, but we think his last race, when he went wire-to-wire to win a mile allowance on Dec. 12, is a sign that he’s sitting on a big race. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Core Conviction.

Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 4:46 pm ET

$150,000 American Beauty Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Nine older female sprinters line up for the American Beauty at Oaklawn Park. That the group is pretty evenly matched makes it a very good betting race. We like 2-Joy’s Rocket, whose recent results have been a mixed bag, but her bad races have been either on turf or on wet tracks, neither of which she particularly likes; in her last two starts on fast dirt, she won a stakes at the Fair Grounds, and finished a very good second, just a head behind the winner, in a Grade 2 race at Keeneland. She will get fast going today, and that makes her a major threat. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 2-Joy’s Rocket.

Fair Grounds, Race 12, 6:20 pm ET

$100,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up

The Fair Grounds in New Orleans will run some good stakes today, including the E.R. Bradley, which drew a field of twelve older turf horses. We see a solid early pace, which will set the table for 8-Monarchs Glen, a stone-cold deep closer who finished third in each of his last two starts, both of which were in similar stakes at the Fair Grounds. He likes this turf course, he’s in good form – all Monarchs Glen needs is fast early fractions to set up his late charge, and we think he is going to get that today. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 12, $40 to win on 8-Monarchs Glen.

Fair Grounds, Race 13, 6:49 pm ET

Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

The Louisiana came up a very strong race, despite drawing only seven entrants. That’s because two of them are among the best older horses currently in training: 2-Mandaloun and 3-Midnight Bourbon both won significant races last year as 3-year-olds, and both make their first start as 4-year-olds in this spot.

Either of them could win this race, but they will both be very short prices, and that has us going with an alternative, in the form of 4-Sprawl. On his best day, he is close to the top two in terms of ability, and we think it’s very possible that neither Mandaloun nor Midnight Bourbon will be at his best today, as they are coming off layoffs, and this race is a prep, not an objective, for both of them. We see Sprawl getting a perfect stalking trip today, and that makes him very dangerous, at very attractive 10-1 odds. We think Sprawl just might spring the upset, and that makes him a great play. We will bet him to win. The win: Fair Grounds, Race 13, $35 to win on 4-Sprawl.

Fair Grounds, Race 14, 7:20 pm ET
Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

It’s the time of year when 3-year-olds, the sport’s glamor division, begin to take center stage in the run-up to the Kentucky Derby. The Lecomte is an early Derby prep, but it’s a Derby prep nonetheless, and nine hopefuls line up to run a mile and a sixteenth with the hope of taking a step toward the first Saturday in May. We like 4-Trafalgar, who was last seen winning an allowance over this Fair Grounds course in December. While he will have to improve today to have a shot at winning, the way he ran his last two races, and his recent morning works, suggest that he is a horse who is developing rapidly, and that makes him a contender here. We also like his tactical versatility: he has won by pressing the pace and by coming from well off it, which will give jockey Colby Hernandez flexibility in working out a trip. We think Trafalgar takes the Lecomte today, and will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 14, $40 to win on 4-Trafalgar.

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

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