Garrity's Sunday 2.13 pre-Super Bowl Picks: Races at Gulfstream, Aqueduct and a Perfect Choice at Fair Grounds
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The national stakes schedule is light today, but that’s OK: we’ve managed to put together a few plays on this Super Bowl Sunday. If you find the wait for today’s 6:30 pm kickoff interminable – and who doesn’t? – then pull up a chair, as we like three races today, all of which go off in the couple of hours before the big game, and all of which should whet your appetite for action until kickoff. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below, so let’s go.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:11 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
We see allowance races all the time, but we seldom see ones like this, which is at a mile and a half on turf. This is the classic distance for grass races around the world, the distance of the some of the world’s greatest races, but it is an indication of how rarely a race like this is carded that most of the eleven entrants who comprise the field here have never run this far before, and the ones who have tried it have not exactly thrived: not a single runner in the group has a win at the distance. That makes it a real handicapper’s race.
We like 9-Arturo Toscanini, and we like him quite a bit: He’s an Irish-bred with a pedigree (by Galileo, out of a Danehill Dancer mare), that practically screams 12 furlongs on turf. Even better, he showed enough promise as a 3-year-old last year that he ran in some tough stakes in Ireland and England, where he faced horses miles better than those he will face here (in his last Euro start, he finished behind a horse named Hurricane Lane, who has won multiple Group 1 races across the pond, and who would be 1/100 if he were entered here). Arturo Toscanin’s first American start was a dud, a dull fifth in a Gulfstream Park allowance on January 5, but that was on dirt – the race was rained off turf – and we are ignoring that entirely. He’s a good horse, he’s in form – his recent workouts are sensational, and suggest he’s sitting on a big effort – and while he’s probably going to be shorter than his 15-1 morning line number by post time, he will still be a very square price. There’s only one thing to do with this: take it to the window. We will bet Arturo Toscanini to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $50 to win on 9-Arturo Toscanini.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:30 pm ET
$100,000 Broadway Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
With snow in the forecast today, we’re expecting a sloppy track at the Big A for the Broadway. A combination of the track and the traits of the seven older state-bred females who comprise it has us liking a price, 1-Awillaway, who wouldn’t have a chance on fast dirt, but whose affinity for wet going makes her a player. Three starts back she won an allowance race over sloppy going, and did so by sitting off a suicidally fast pace and moving up when the pacesetters tired down the stretch. We see a similar setup for her today, which makes Awillaway’s 20-1 morning line number too good to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $35 to win on 1-Awillaway.
Fair Grounds, Race 7, 5:05 pm ET
Allowance, Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Eight go in the featured race at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. We like 4-Perfect Choice, who has burned a lot of money, losing as a short-priced favorite, in each of her last two starts. That would normally be a reason for us to play against her, but those races, like all of her four career starts, were on dirt, and we like the fact that she is moving to turf here, as both her pedigree and her running style suggest that grass might be the better surface for her. We also think the race shape will favor her, as she’s a closer, and the early pace should be robust enough to set up her late charge. We don’t know until after the race if this is a perfect choice, but we will bet Perfect Choice to win at 4-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Perfect Choice.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.