Garrity's Saturday Stakes Picks 5 races at Parx, including 2 Grade 1's, the Cotillion and Pennsylvania Derby
The eyes of the racing world on this September Saturday will be turned to a place that usually gets virtually no national attention: the day’s best card, and the day’s biggest races, are at Parx Racing, just outside of Philadelphia. With a staggering ten stakes races on a 13-race program, this is the biggest day of the year for Thoroughbred racing in Pennsylvania, and it has certainly caught our attention, as all five of our plays will be in stakes at Parx. The weather there will be excellent today, the dirt will be fast, and the turf will be firm, so let’s go.
Parx Racing, Race 6, 2:31 pm ET
$200,000 Plum Pretty Stakes, 1 mile 70 yards, Dirt, Pennsylvania-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Eight go in the Plum Pretty. It’s a pretty good lineup, especially by state-bred standards, and while a handicapper could make a case for almost any of them, our case lies with 8-Leader of the Band. She has always shown promise – she was precocious enough that trainer John Servis, who is not known for rushing horses, ran her in the Grade 1 Cotillion last year – but it was only recently she seems to have hit her stride, earning good speed figures in the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth and the Summer Colony at Parx, races in which she finished second and first, respectively. This seems to be a case of a horse reaching her physical peak as a 4-year-old, and that spells trouble for the rest of this field. Look for Leader of the Band to be mid-pack early, but first where it matters; we will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 6, $40 to win on 8-Leader of the Band.
Parx Racing, Race 9, 4:04 pm ET
Grade 3 Turf Monster Stakes, 5 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
A big field of twelve lines up for the Turf Monster. The pick is 7-Boat’s a Rockin, who has been running, and running quite well, in longer races on the mid-Atlantic circuit, but who has been quite effective in the past at shorter distances like the five furlongs here. The early pace looks fast – in a race this short, with a field this big, there is going to be a mad dash for the early lead – and Boat’s a Rockin has enough speed to get a good tactical position early, and a strong enough finishing kick to surge forward late, when the early pacesetters begin to tire. We will bet him to win at 10-1 odds. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 9, $35 to win on 7-Boat’s a Rockin.
Parx Racing, Race 10, 4:35 pm ET
Grade 2 Gallant Bob Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Big fields are the rule of the day at Parx, and the Gallant Bob is no exception, with fourteen going to the post. We like 3-Provocateur, who comes off a sharp win in the Jersey Shore stakes at Monmouth Park on August 6. He looks to us like a late-blooming 3-year-old, and we are getting to the time of year when those kinds of runners are extremely dangerous: while a repeat of his Jersey Shore effort would probably be good enough to win this, we think Provocateur is actually going to be better today, which means the rest of the field is running for second money. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 10, $40 to win on 3-Provocateur.
Parx Racing, Race 11, 5:20 pm ET
Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
The Cotillion may not get as much attention as the Pennsylvania Derby, but it has probably been a more important race of late, as in recent years, it has been won by very, very good distaffers like Clariere, Midnight Bisou, Songbird, and Untapable. While there might not be a horse of quite that caliber running this year, the nine entrants comprise a very, very good group, a true Grade 1 field. The headliner, and morning line favorite, is 6-Secret Oath, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks, who has had an admirably consistent campaign this year, but who seems to have tailed off of late, and who at 2-1 looks like a big underlay to us.
A filly who appears to be ascending is 7-Shahama, who was no match for Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks – she finished sixth - but who has done some good work since, including winning the Monmouth Oaks in her last start. Based on the way she has run, Shahama looks to us like she is sitting on a big race, bigger than she’s ever run before, and that makes her a major threat to win, and, at 8-1, a terrific wager. We will bet her to win. The bet: Parx, Race 11, $40 to win on 7-Shahama.
Parx Racing, Race 12, 6:10 pm ET
Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A very good group of eleven 3-year-olds lines up for the Pennsylvania Derby. We’re all in on 8-Taiba, the lightly raced but freakishly talented colt based in Southern California, who has run four times, and only ran badly once – in the Kentucky Derby, when he faded and finished 12th, a race in which he was pretty clearly not prepared to run. Taiba returned from that debacle to run a very good second in the Haskell on July 23, finishing a head behind 5-Cyberknife, who is also in the field today; we expect Taiba, with that prep under his belt, to finish in front of Cyberknife, and in fact in front of the rest of field too. We will bet Taiba to win at 5/2. The bet: Parx Racing, Race 12, $50 to win on 8-Taiba.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.