Garrity's Saturday Stakes Picks Fair Grounds – 5 races including the Louisiana Derby, a Kentucky Derby prep
The biggest races of the day today are in New Orleans, where the Fair Grounds has a 12-race card highlighted by the Louisiana Derby. We have plays in five of them, all stakes; the main track will be fast, the turf course firm, and the racing excellent, so let’s go.
Fair Grounds, Race 6, 3:33 pm ET
$75,000 Costa Rising Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, Louisiana-breds 3 & Up
Our first play of the day is in the Costa Rising, a 5 ½ furlong sprint on the turf for state-breds. It drew a full field of twelve, which makes it a great betting race. We like a horse at a price, 10-Hail State, a stretch runner who should benefit from what looks on paper to be a very fast early pace. He has been knocking on the door of late in these kinds of races; today is the day we think he breaks through, and does so at a very attractive 12-1 number. We will bet him to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $35 to win on 10-Hail State.
Fair Grounds, Race 8, 4:37 pm ET
$100,000 Tom Benson Memorial Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Nine older females line up for the Benson. The pick is 4-Gam’s Mission, who did some good work as a 3-year-old last year, taking the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs in May, and running competitively in some tough races on the New York circuit last summer. She’s coming off a layoff today, so there are some concerns about her fitness, but if she’s ready – and we think she will be ready – she is the one to beat, as her closing running style is a perfect fit how the Fair Grounds turf usually plays. Look for Gam’s Mission to be well back early and rolling late; we will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Gam’s Mission.
Fair Grounds, Race 9, 5:08 pm ET
Grade 2 New Orleans Classic, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up
The New Orleans Classic came up a bit light in terms of field size, with just six older horses going to the gate, but they’re pretty evenly matched, so it’s a playable race. We like 6-Chess Chief, who likes the course at the Fair Grounds – he has five wins in ten career starts on it – and who has been facing much, much tougher than what he will face here. In his recent races, he has finished behind horses like Life is Good, Maxfield, and Knicks Go; the absence of this kind of competition, and his ability to finish strongly, a key asset down the long stretch at the Fair Grounds, make Chess Chief the pick, especially considering that he’s 8-1. We will bet him to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Chess Chief.
Fair Grounds, Race 10, 5:40 pm ET
Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
The Muniz drew nine entrants, but we have eyes for just one: 2-Sacred Life, who comes off a performance that looks bad on paper, when he ran sixth in a Grade 1 race at Gulfstream Park, but we are willing to excuse his effort that day, partly because it was his first start off a layoff, but mostly because he is a closer, and probably never really had a chance on Gulfstream’s speed-favoring turf course. Today, on the much fairer Fair Grounds sod, we think he can return to the form he showed last year, which included a win in the Knickerbocker at Belmont Park in October. We will bet Sacred Life to win at 2-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 10, $40 to win on 2-Sacred Life.
Fair Grounds, Race 12, 6:44 pm
Grade 2 Twinspires Louisiana Derby, 1 3/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Nine sophomore colts line up for the Louisiana Derby, a key Kentucky Derby prep. Expect to see at least a couple of these runners in the starting gate in Louisville on May 7. We think the one with the most upside is 2-Zozos, who is lightly raced, with just two career races under his belt, but he looked real good in both of them, especially when he prevailed in an allowance race, in very fast time, in his last start, at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 11. He was as impressive visually as he was against the clock that day, winning by over 10 lengths despite being geared down late. Zozos did not make his first start until January, but he seems to be making up for lost time, and in terms of ability, the sky seems the limit for him. We think he is going to announce his presence on the national stage by winning the 2022 Louisiana Derby; we will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 12, $50 to win on 2-Zozos.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.