Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks 6 races from Pimlico, hopes to take advantage of Early Voting in the Preakness
The eyes of the racing world will be on Baltimore today, not just for the Preakness, which is a true classic even without the Derby winner, but also for the undercard, which has a gaggle of supporting stakes. We have plays in six of them, including the main event, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf for all of them. Let’s go.
Pimlico, Race 8, 2:49 pm ET
Grade 2 Dinner Party Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up
A field of seven lines up for the Dinner Party. We can’t get past favored 3-Set Piece, who has been running extremely well against much, much tougher competition than he will face here. Sometimes handicapping races is difficult; in this case, it appears easy, as Set Piece looks clearly superior to the six horses who line up against him. It was Damon Runyon who said that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong – but that’s the way to bet, and in this case, Set Piece looks the swiftest. Look for him to be relaxed early, and to seize command with a powerful stretch run. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Pimlico, Race 8, $50 to win on 3-Set Piece.
Pimlico, Race 9, 3:31 pm ET
Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Nine sophomore colts line up to sprint six furlongs in the Chick Lang. We like one who appears to be improving rapidly: it’s 7-Whelen Springs, who took a while to get going, not breaking his maiden until his fifth start, which was in March, but has racked up three wins in a row since, with each race a significant improvement over the one before. We see a similar step forward in this spot, which makes him strictly the one to beat, especially since he has an outside post that will give him a significant tactical advantage. Look for him to press the pace early, and draw away late; we will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Pimlico, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Whelen Springs.
Pimlico, Race 10, 4:12 pm ET
$100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The Murphy, a mile stakes on the turf, drew a field of eleven. Trainer Brad Cox has been hot, and we expect that trend to continue with 5-Ready to Purrform, who comes off a layoff, but who showed real promise as a turf runner as a juvenile last year. He won the first two races of his career last fall, both of which were on grass, before a wide post and a tough trip caused him to finish seventh as the favorite in a stakes race at Del Mar in November. We think Ready to Purrform rebounds today, aided in large part by the fact that this is a very weak group. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Pimlico, Race 10, $40 to win on 5-Ready to Purrform.
Pimlico, Race 11, 4:53 pm ET
$100,000 Sir Barton Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A field of ten lines up for the Sir Barton. We like a colt at a price, 9-Brooklyn Diamonds, who is a bit light in the speed figure department, but whose form suggests, to us, anyway, that he is better than the numbers might indicate. We especially like his last effort, when he chased a loose-on-the-lead runner, and did so on a speed-favoring, muddy track at Oaklawn Park, managing to finish second. We think he will run much better today, especially since he has already proven he can handle this mile and a sixteenth distance, which is something that a few of his rivals, who are stretching out from sprints, cannot say. Look for Brooklyn Diamonds to be mid-pack early, and to grind his way to the front during the race’s latter stages; we will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Pimlico, Race 11, $35 to win on 9-Brooklyn Diamonds.
Pimlico, Race 12, 5:51 pm ET
$100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, 5 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
Speed, speed, and more speed is the order of the day in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, as quite a few of the ten entrants are somewhere between fast and very fast. We think the early pace here will be very hot, which will set the table for a late runner.
We think that will be 6-Smokin’ Jay, who has run his best races when allowed to relax behind a quick early pace, and make a strong run late. That is exactly the scenario we see here, and that makes him both the pick and an excellent wager at 6-1 odds. We will bet him to win. The bet: Pimlico, Race 12, $40 to win on 6-Smokin’ Jay.
Pimlico, Race 13, 7:01 pm ET
Grade 1 Preakness Stakes, 1 3/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A field of nine lines up for the 2022 Preakness, and the running of the race, we think, will be a reminder that the generals are always fighting the last war: after the Kentucky Derby was run with a ridiculous and historically fast early pace, with fractions so fast that they cooked all the speedsters, we are expecting the Preakness to be run the other way, with a slow pace that will favor the frontrunners, and make it very, very difficult for horses who try to make up ground late. There are some pretty talented runners in that group, most notably 8-Epicenter, who is favored after finishing second in Louisville; but we put 1-Simplification and super filly 4-Secret Oath, the Kentucky Oaks winner, in this group as well, as horses who are good enough overall to win a race of this caliber, but who will likely find the race shape to be too big an obstacle to overcome.
The pick, however, is 5-Early Voting. He is a Chad Brown trainee who did not run in the Derby, but who impressed us this spring as a high-quality speed horse, especially in the Wood Memorial, which was his last start, when he held on to finish a close second after setting pretty quick early fractions. There are few absolute truisms in this game, but one of them is that a speed horse will run the best race of which he is capable when allowed to run loose on an easy lead – and this is what we see happening for Early Voting today, especially since the main track at Pimlico has had a tendency in recent days to favor speed. We think Early Voting will win the 147th running of the Preakness in wire-to-wire fashion, and we will consequently play him to win at 7/2 odds. The bet: Pimlico, Race 13, $50 to win on 5-Early Voting.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.