Lady Rocket, who won the Go For Wand in December at Aqueduct, is Garrity's pick in the Chicago Stakes.
Lady Rocket, who won the Go For Wand in December at Aqueduct, is Garrity's pick in the Chicago Stakes.NYRA

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Churchill Downs, Los Alamitos & Thistledown, including the Ohio Derby

First post is 4:48 pm EDT.

With the glamour meetings of the summer still a ways off – Saratoga and Del Mar open in three and four weeks, respectively – we have a mixed bag of early summer stakes action on this last Saturday in June, with the day’s best card in Ohio, of all places, where the Ohio Derby is the featured race at Thistledown in suburban Cleveland. We have plays in four races today, and expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.

Thistledown, Race 10, 4:48 pm ET

$250,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

The Lady Jacqueline came up a strong race, with a talented and deep field of ten going to the gate. A handicapper could go in many different directions, but the one we are taking is straight toward 6-Army Wife, who did quite well last year running against the best 3-year-old fillies in the country, including Malathaat and Clairiere, in big races like the Alabama at Saratoga and the Cotillion at Parx, both of which are Grade 1s. She doesn’t face a horse of that caliber here, and that means a trip to the winner’s circle for Army Wife, who looks likely to return to the form she showed last year, which is clearly superior to anything her rivals are capable of. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Thistledown, Race 10, $40 to win on 6-Army Wife.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET

Grade 3 Chicago Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of seven goes to the gate in the Chicago. There are a couple of good closers in the group, but we think that the edge, in terms of how the race will be run, goes to 3-Lady Rocket, who looks like lone speed, and who we think is going to go right to the front and stay there all the way around the track. Sometimes, this game is complicated, but this is one of those cases where it looks simple: bet the fastest horse. That is Lady Rocket; we will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Lady Rocket.

Thistledown, Race 11, 5:35 pm ET

Grade 3 Ohio Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Nine go in the Ohio Derby. We’re all in on 5-White Abarrio, who won the Holy Bull and the Florida Derby, both key Gulfstream Park prep races for the Kentucky Derby, and who we thought had a puncher’s chance in the Run for the Roses, but who had an absolutely disastrous trip that day, fading badly after running wide throughout. This was not a case of a horse who was forced by traffic to run a bit off the rail; White Abarrio was absurdly wide, running closer to the middle of the track than to the preferred inside paths, and he was bumped repeatedly while doing so. We are drawing a line through that race, and think that with seven weeks to recover, he is ready to run big. That means White Abarrio is winning the Ohio Derby, and that we are betting him to win at 7/2. The bet: Thistledown, Race 11, $50 to win on 5-White Abarrio.

Los Alamitos (Thoroughbred), Race 9, 8:44 pm ET

$100,000 Bertrando Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, California-breds 3 & Up

Southern California racing moves to Los Alamitos in Orange County for a brief meet between Santa Anita and Del Mar, and the Bertrando, which drew a field of five Cal-breds, is the featured race on the opening day card. At these kinds of brief meets, we like focusing on trainers who target these kinds of races, rather than those who use them as preps for later dates, and that puts the focus here squarely on Steve Miyadi, who starts 2-Desmond Doss. Miyadi flies under the radar a bit in Southern California, but he does quite well at Los Alamitos – in fact, Desmond Doss won this race last year. We see a repeat, especially since Desmond Doss comes off a very sharp allowance win a month ago. Look for him to relax early, and to win with a strong move down the long Los Al stretch. We will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Desmond Doss.

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

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