Public Sector is Garrity's pick to win The Lure Stakes.
Public Sector is Garrity's pick to win The Lure Stakes.NYRA | Chelsea Durand

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks the Lure, Glens Falls, Test, Whitney, Derby at Saratoga; the Hirsch at Del Mar

Garrity's first post is at 2:50 pm EDT.

Summer racing, at least at the sport’s highest level, is about Saratoga and Del Mar, and that’s where our attention is focused, as this first Saturday in August is one of the biggest days of the season in Upstate New York, and in Southern California, there is a very good stakes races for older fillies and mares. We have six plays today, five at the Spa and one where the turf meets the surf, for a six pack of Saturday action that is guaranteed to thrill, and might just make us some money. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 5, 2:50 pm ET

$135,000 Lure Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up

Eight turf females go in the Lure. The pick is 1-Public Sector, who has been winless since last October, but who has found a field that he should be able to handle, especially since his rail post should allow jockey Flavien Prat to save ground, avoiding a wide trip, something that has been a recurring problem for him. Look for Public Sector to relax early, and roar home late; we will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 5, $40 to win on 1-Public Sector.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 7, 3:58 pm ET

Grade 2 Glens Falls Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

The Glens Falls is something we don’t see very often, a 12 furlong turf marathon for fillies and mares. It drew a field of seven. The favorite is 6-War Like Goddess, who is very good, and who is 3-for-3 at the distance in her career, but who we are betting against, if only because she is going to be odds-on, probably in the 2/5 range, and we think at that number is an underlay.

The pick is 3-Petricor. She started her career in France, where she had fair-to-middling results at major tracks like Longchamp and Deauville, and her three starts since she came to the U.S. have likewise been just OK. But we think she will improve markedly today, primarily because of the distance: she’s been running in shorter races, but her pedigree suggests that she wants more ground, and she will get it today. We think her 6-1 morning line price is more than fair, and will play her to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Petricor.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 9, 5:07 pm ET

Grade 1 Test Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Seven sophomore fillies go in the Test. On paper, 1-Matareya would appear to be a layover, as she has five wins in eight career starts, comes off a razor-sharp win in the Acorn at Belmont Park, and is brilliantly fast, and will be running on a Saratoga dirt course that of late has been quite kind to speed. But we are going against her, as her speed figures are not overwhelmingly superior to her rivals, and there are a couple of other fillies with enough speed to go with Matareya early, and who have the tactical advantage of drawing outside of her. We’d like Matareya a lot more if she drew an outside post, but on the rail, we think she is a strong play-against, especially at 2/5.

We like 2-Sterling Silver. She is a closer, and she will need to improve to win this, but we think the race shape will favor her stretch-running style, as will the distance (she won her lone career start at 7 furlongs). Look for her to be flying late; we will bet her to win at 15-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $35 to win on 2-Sterling Silver.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 10, 5:43 pm ET

Grade 1 Whitney Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

We have been moaning of late about the short fields at Saratoga, especially in stakes races, and the Whitney, one of the biggest races of the entire Spa meeting, which drew just six entrants, would seem to be a natural target for more carping. But we will give it a pass, as the five of the six older horses who will be running are excellent. It’s a terrific race, irrespective of field size.

The pick is 2-Hot Rod Charlie. We have had some fun poking fun at this animal in recent months, as his enormous talent has at times seemed to be matched only by his penchant for losing races, usually without an excuse. His last race is a good example: He ran second, at 3-10 odds, in the Salvatore Mile, a race he appeared to have won more than once down the stretch. His loss that day was awful – there is no other way to put it.

But there is no question that Hot Rod Charlie has a world of ability, especially at this mile and an eighth distance, which he has run twice, and finished first both times (he won the Pennsylvania Derby last fall, and was disqualified to seventh, after hitting the wire in front, in last summer’s Haskell at Monmouth Park). Hot Rod Charlie is a world-class horse when he is at his best, and we think his 9/2 odds are positively juicy. We will bet him to win, and will play him in the Double (see below) comprising the Whitney and the Saratoga Derby Invitational. The bets: Saratoga, Race 10, $40 to win on 2-Hot Rod Charlie; $30 double, 2 (Hot Rod Charlie) with 10 (Stone Age).

Saratoga Race Course, Race 11, 6:20 pm ET

Grade 1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes, 1 3/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

A field of eleven 3-year-old colts lines up for this Grade 1 turf stakes. It is a sensational field, and a terrific race from both a sporting and wagering perspective. Quite a few of the runners in the field are coming out of the Belmont Derby, which was won by 4-Classic Causeway, who sprang a surprise, going wire-to-wire at 26-1 odds. We congratulate those who had him that day, but we think a repeat here so unlikely that we wouldn’t bet him with counterfeit money.

We liked 10-Stone Age in the Belmont Derby, and we see no reason to get off him now. True, he did not win that race – he finished third – but he did so despite an absolutely brutal trip, going seven wide around the first turn, running into traffic while on the rail on the backstretch, and nearly falling down going into the far turn. Despite all those difficulties, he finished very strongly – and did so closing into a slow pace. This is a sign of a very talented horse, and we think Stone Age will improve significantly today, if only because he is guaranteed to get a better trip. We think he is the best colt in the race, and that makes his 9-2 odds enormously appealing. We will bet Stone Age to win, and will do so with gusto. The bet: Saratoga, Race 11, $50 to win on 10-Stone Age.

Del Mar, Race 9, 9:04 pm ET

Grade 2 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Seven fillies and mares line up for the Clement Hirsch down at old Del Mar. We like 1-Soothsay, who showed a lot of promise as a 3-year-old last year, including a win in the Santa Anita Oaks, but who has been away from the races for a long time, over a year, after an injury sent her to the sidelines last summer. We liked the talent Soothsay showed last year; we like her trainer, Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, one of the sport’s good guys, who has been patient with getting her back to the races; and we love her recent workouts, which have been very quick. Mandella does not usually work his horses that fast, so the fact that Soothsay has been tearing up the track in the morning suggests that she is ready to deliver a big performance today. She’s 4-1 on the morning line, which we are eager to take: we will bet Soothsay to win the Hirsch. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Soothsay.

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

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