Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Keeneland, Aqueduct, Woodbine and Santa Anita on great day of horse racing

Garrity's first post is 4:10 pm EDT.
War Like Goddess, winning the 2021 Flower Bowl at Saratoga, runs today against the colts at Aqueduct.
War Like Goddess, winning the 2021 Flower Bowl at Saratoga, runs today against the colts at Aqueduct. NYRA

These are the kinds of days that horseplayers live for: There are excellent stakes races from one end of this great continent to the other. There are so many, in fact, over three dozen by our count, that we cannot even begin to cover them all, so we’ve selected six of the most important, which are worth watching purely for entertainment, but which also offer some good wagering opportunities.

We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all races, so let’s go.

Keeneland, Race 7, 4:10 pm ET

Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Nine filly and mare sprinters line up to run six furlongs in the TCA. The pick is 2-Palm Cottage, who has been excellent of late, especially her last start, when she won an allowance race at Saratoga in very fast time. This is a good filly who seems to be peaking at the right time; we will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Palm Cottage.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:20 pm ET

Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

The Hirsch drew a field of seven. It’s a fascinating race to handicap, primarily due to the presence of 2-War Like Goddess, a 5-year-old mare who has been very good, with eight wins in eleven career starts, but who has run exclusively against females, and here takes on the boys for the first time. While she certainly could win, she is going to be a short price, probably shorter than her 7/5 morning line number, and we consequently think she is a huge underlay, and are excited at the prospect of betting against her.

The pick is 1-Bye Bye Melvin. He is the only horse in this field with any speed whatsoever, and it’s a virtual certainty that he gets the early lead, and we think he is going to set the pace while running slow, maybe even absurdly slow, early fractions. We think he can steal the race galloping on the front end, and that makes him, at 8-1, a very good wager. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Bye Bye Melvin.

Keeneland, Race 9, 5:14 pm ET

Grade 1 Breeders Futurity, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

Fourteen line up for the Breeders Futurity. It’s a sensational field, a terrific race from both a sporting and wagering perspective, and in these days of stakes races with painfully short fields, it’s a very pleasant reminder of how great this sport can be.

There are quite a few talented colts running, but the one we fancy the most is 10-Lost Ark. He is undefeated in two career starts, and he is trained by Todd Pletcher, and while this would normally be enough to make a horse a prohibitive favorite, it is an indication of the quality of this group that he is the fifth choice on the morning line, at 6-1. We give him the nod here because of the way that he won his last race, the Sapling at Monmouth Park: He showed a dramatic turn of foot late in that race, making a big move around the far turn to win by 7 ½ lengths, and that has us thinking that he is sitting on a big race. We will bet him to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Lost Ark.

Woodbine, Race 9, 5:39 pm ET
Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of nine lines up for the E.P. Taylor. We like 4-Rougir, a French-bred 4-year-old filly, who has disappointed in her last three races, but who we think will rebound in a big way today. She had different kinds of bad luck of late, but we think she gets a clean trip here, primarily due to Woodbine’s wide, open turf course, and a clean trip will allow her to revert to the form she showed last fall, when she won a major European stakes race, the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera, at Longchamps in Paris. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Woodbine, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Rougir.

Keeneland, Race 10, 5:45 pm ET

Grade 1 Coolmore Turf MIle, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

The Coolmore Turf Mile is another terrific race, a Grade 1 mile on the turf that drew a field of twelve. The pick is 3-Order of Australia, who disappointed in this race last year, when he finished last as the 6/5 favorite, but who this year has been competitive in some of the toughest mile races in Europe. We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again, but when it comes to turf racing, European horses are superior to American horses, and if we can get 8-1 on a top-shelf Euro running against a group of horses based in the U.S., we are going to the windows. We will bet Order of Australia to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 10, $50 to win on 3-Order of Australia.

Santa Anita, Race 8, 7:38 pm ET

Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

The headliner of the American Pharoah is 5-Cave Rock, who is undefeated, and unchallenged, after two career starts, the last of which was a very impressive 5 ¼ length win in the Del Mar Debutante. While he has been freakishly fast, and is probably the most likely winner, he’s going to be a minuscule price, probably even shorter than his 4/5 morning line number, and we are taking a shot against him, as he is trying a route race for the first time, and there is no guarantee that he will be as good at this 1 1/16 mile distance as he was sprinting.

The pick is 7-Skinner. While he is a maiden, having lost both of his two career starts, they were both shorter races,  and the way he has ran in those races has us thinking that he will be much better around two turns than he was around one. It also helps that he is trained by John Shirreffs, who tends to be conservative when placing horses - if Shirreffs thinks he’s ready to try a Grade 1, then he probably is. Look for Skinner to be toward the rear early, and rolling late; we will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Skinner.

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

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