Flightline, easily winning The Metropolitan in June, runs today at Del Mar, Garrity tries to upset the heavy favorite.
Flightline, easily winning The Metropolitan in June, runs today at Del Mar, Garrity tries to upset the heavy favorite.NYRA

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks 6 races at Kentucky Downs, Saratoga and Del Mar, where Flightline returns

Garrity's first post is 4:48 pm EDT.

It’s a big day today: we have the Jockey Club Gold Cup in the East; out West, the Pacific Classic headlines the biggest day of the meeting at Del Mar; and in the middle, Kentucky Downs has an enormous card, with eleven races, every one with a giant field, and therefore a terrific betting race. There’s too much for us to cover all of it, so we have selected a half dozen stakes, a Saturday six pack, as our featured races.

We expect fast and firm conditions at Saratoga and Del Mar, but yielding turf at Kentucky Downs, where it is shaping up as a rainy day. Let’s go.

Kentucky Downs, Race 7, 4:48 pm ET

$500,000 Aristocrat Gaming Juvenile Fillies Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies

A field of nine juvenile fillies lines up for the Aristocrat. We like the looks of 4-Knockyoursocksoff, who won her career debut at Colonial Downs a month ago at this mile distance. While that effort was on firm grass, she has both the pedigree and running style to handle the softer going she will see today. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Knockyoursocksoff.

Kentucky Downs, Race 8, 5:23 pm ET

$500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

The Juvenile Mile, like its filly counterpart, drew nine runners. The pick is 2-Bramble Blaze, who did something unusual in his lone career start: He made up a lot of ground on the Monmouth Park turf course, which has been mostly unkind to come-from-behinders throughout the summer. That he did so under any circumstances is a sign that he’s a quality colt, but we think his run that day was even better than it looked, as the early pace was moderate, and the race shape did not favor his stretch-running style. He has a very good turf pedigree, and we think he will handle the soft going just fine. Bramble Blaze looks the best of this group to us; we will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-Bramble Blaze.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 11, 5:45 pm ET

Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, 1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

Eight older horses line up for the Jockey Club Gold Cup.We like 3-Olympiad, who is looking to rebound after an atypically poor performance in the Whitney, when he pressed the pace on a muddy track that was pretty tiring, and faded late to finish fourth. A return to his prior form, which we are expecting, makes him strictly the one to beat, and at 2-1, a good play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 11, $50 to win on 3-Olympiad.

Kentucky Downs, Race 10, 6:31 pm ET

Grade 3 Winstar Mint Million Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

Nine go in the Winstar Mint Millon. We are all in on the one all the way on the outside, 9-Atone, who pretty much checks all our handicapping boxes: he’s in good form; he’s good at the distance; he’s trained by Mike Maker, who has started the Kentucky Downs meeting hot; and he has shown an affinity in the past for soft turf. He also has tactical versatility: he can go to the front if the early fractions are slow; or, if the early pace is swift, he can sit back early and make a big run late. All of this, plus the fact that Atone seems to be sitting on a big race, makes his 7/2 morning line price too good for us to pass up. We will bet him to win. The bet: Kentucky Downs, Race 10, $40 to win on 9-Atone.

Del Mar, Race 9, 8:10 pm ET

Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

This is a good race, with a deep field of nine 3-year-olds entered, but for us, handicapping it comes down to two colts: 9-Balnikhov, who won the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on July 22; and 5-Dandy Warhol, who finished sixth that day, but who since won an August 13 allowance race with a very powerful late charge. Balnikhov has more tactical speed; Dandy Warhol has a better closing kick, and the question is whether the pace of the race will develop in a way that favors the former, or the latter.

We think the pace of the Del Mar Derby will be fast, which makes the pick Dandy Warhol. If the race comes down to who can sprint to the finish line the fastest, as turf races frequently do, his strong late kick will be the decider. We seeing him flying down the late to get up late, and will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Dandy Warhol.

Del Mar, Race 10, 8:50 pm ET
Grade 1 Pacific Classic, 1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

The question in the Pacific Classic is very simple: Can any of the five horses lining up against 5-Flightline actually beat him? The monster horse from the West Coast has been a superstar ever since he broke his maiden a year and a half ago, running faster in his first career start than most horses run winning stakes races. He brings a perfect 4-for-4 record into the starting gate today, with his last two being eye-popping wins in Grade 1 races, both of which he won with condescending ease.

A sensible person would concede the Pacific Classic to Flightline, and watch the race for sporting purposes, but since we’ve never been accused of having sense, we are going to take a shot against him, as he is going to be 1/9, and we think the distance might be an issue for him (to date, his longest race was at a mile). Flightline has dominated his races to this point by virtue of his superior early speed, and while that has been breathtaking to watch, it is much harder for a horse to carry for a mile and a quarter than it is to do so at shorter distances.

The pick is 4-Express Train. He has run fast enough in the past to win here, especially at the distance – he won the Santa Anita Handicap, also run at 10 furlongs, in April – and he will be a big price, 12-1 on the morning line and likely higher by post time. We will bet that he can pull the upset, and will play him to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 10, $40 to win on 4-Express Train.

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

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