Mckulick is the likely heavy favorite in today's Jockey Club Oaks Invitational, so, of course, Garrity is picking against him.
Mckulick is the likely heavy favorite in today's Jockey Club Oaks Invitational, so, of course, Garrity is picking against him.NYRA

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks 3 at Woodbine and 2 at Aqueduct, featuring Charlie Appleby, Godolphin runners

Garrity's first post is 4:07 pm EDT.

Today’s best action is north of the border, at Woodbine Racetrack in suburban Toronto, where the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile headlines a terrific 12-race card. We have three races today there, two at Aqueduct, for five exciting stakes on a late summer Saturday. It’s an all-grass lineup, and we expect firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:07 pm ET

Grade 3 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Six go in the Jockey Club Oaks. The favorite is 1-McKulick, who will be a short price for two reasons: one is that he’s trained by Chad Brown, and the other is that he won the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks in July. He’s a nice horse, but we will not be betting on him, primarily because he’s going to be a minuscule price, probably something on the order of 2/5, and we think he is vulnerable.

The pick is 4-Toskana Belle. She is a French-bred who has raced exclusively in Europe, and we like the way she has run over there, especially in her last, when she won the Grade 1 German Oaks at Dusseldorf Racecourse in wire-to-wire fashion. She showed a lot of guts that day, digging in gamely down the stretch to prevail by a head, and we think that toughness will be a huge asset here. We also think Toskana Belle is sitting on a huge race, and that makes her 7/2 morning line very appealing. We will bet her to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Toskana Belle.

Woodbine, Race 7, 4:22 pm ET
Grade 2 Summer Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

Seven juveniles line up for the Summer Stakes. We are all in on favored 1-Mysterious Night, a Charlie Appleby runner from the powerful Godolphin barn, who was last seen winning a Group 3 race at Deauville in France a month ago. Sometimes, handicapping horse races is hard, but in this case, it looks easy, as Mysterious Night simply looks far, far better than the rest. An insight into how his connections think of him is that jockey William Buick passed on riding Nations Pride at Aqueduct (see below) to ride Mysterious Night here. We will bet him to win at 6/5. The bet: Woodbine, Race 7, $50 to win on 1-Mysterious Night.

Woodbine, Race 9, 5:35 pm ET

Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The Woodbine Mile, a terrific race for turf milers, drew a field of eleven. The morning line choice is 5-Modern Games, another Godolphin/Charlie Appleby runner, whose lone U.S. start was one of the weirdest races we’ve ever seen, last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, when he was scratched at the gate, then allowed to run for purse money only, and subsequently won in ridiculously easy fashion. Watching a horse we’d touted for days win, but not being able to bet on him, was a sensation we are not eager to repeat.

We tried to find a way to play against Modern Games today, but simply can’t: he’s just too good. While he failed to win any of his last three starts, he ran very well in all of them, and they were all very, very tough races in which he faced very, very tough horses. We are positively smitten, in fact, with his most recent start, when he finished a close second in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood: the horse who beat him that day was Baaeed, who is merely the best turf horse in the world. Since none of the horses he will face today are anywhere near that level, we think Modern Games is going to win easily, and will bet him accordingly, at 7/5 odds. The bet: Woodbine, Race 9, $50 to win on 5-Modern Games.

Aqueduct, Race 10, 5:45 pm ET

Grade 3 Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The Jockey Club Derby drew a half-dozen runners. It’s a good group despite its relatively small size. On paper, 3-Nations Pride looks pretty close to a layover: the Godolphin homebred has run two good races since trainer Charlie Appbleby brought him to the U.S. from Europe, and his last effort, when he won the Saratoga Derby Invitational with condescending ease, was sensational. He won easily while giving the impression that he had a lot left in the tank, which is not an easy thing to do.

While Nations Pride is the likeliest winner, we think he’s a terrible bet, as he’s going to be a minuscule price, certainly odds-on, and maybe even as low as 1/5. We are consequently looking to send our parimutuel dollars elsewhere, and they will be going in the direction of 6-Ardakan, who comes to this race off a peripatetic spring and summer campaign in France, Germany, and Italy. He ran a very good third in his last race, in a Grade 1 in Germany, and we think that effort just might be a sign that he’s sitting on a big race. We also like the fact that jockey Andrash Starke came with him: Ardakan is Starke’s only mount of the day, and while his presence does not guarantee anything, we don’t think he’d fly 4,000 miles to ride him if he thought Ardakan had no chance. That’s enough for us: we will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 10, $40 to win on 6-Ardakan.

Woodbine, Race 10, 6:10 pm ET

Grade 1 Natalma Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies

A field of eight juvenile fillies goes in the Natalma. Seven of them are locally based, but we like the one who is not: 3-G Laurie, who comes into this off a very strong maiden win at Colonial Downs on August 23. She is trained by Graham Motion, whose aggressiveness in running her here we like: Going from a maiden race to a Grade 1 is a huge jump, but she looks like she just might be able to handle it, especially since the racing at Colonial this summer was strong, and horses coming off races there have done well of late. Look for G Laurie to be mid-pack early, and flying late; we will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 10, $40 to win on 3-G Laurie.

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

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