Balthus is Garrity's pick in the Red Smith at Aqueduct.
Balthus is Garrity's pick in the Red Smith at Aqueduct.NYRA

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs and Del Mar – 4 Grade 2s with Red Smith

Garrity's first post is 3:14 pm EST.

A weekend six-pack is on tap for the last Saturday in November: we have plays in six races, in New York, Kentucky, and California. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all six; let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:14 pm ET

Grade 3 Fall Highweight Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

A field of seven is assembled for the Fall Highweight. We like 7-Runninsonofagun, who was last seen winning the Bold Ruler on October 29. He had an outside post that day, and prevailed with stalking trip; we see a similar setup, and a similar result, this afternoon. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Runninsonofagun.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:43 pm ET
Grade 2 Red Smith Stakes, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

Grass racing in New York is winding down for the year – the last turf races at Aqueduct until next spring are tomorrow – so it is a bit of a pleasant surprise that the field for the Red Smith is so strong: it’s an excellent race from both a sporting and wagering standpoint, with a dozen highly competitive animals going to the gate.

The animal who looks best to us is 3-Balthus. He’s a 4-year-old who has yet to win a race of this magnitude – he’s run in a stakes race just once, in his last start, when he finished fifth in the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland in October – but who has hinted of late that he might just be a late-bloomer, that his best races may still be in front of him. In terms of pedigree, the sky’s the limit for this colt, and we think that in the Red Smith, Balthus will show that he has arrived. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Balthus

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:57 pm ET

$200,000 Ed Brown Stakes, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

Seven go in the Ed Brown. The pick is 6-Top Recruit, who floundered, in both senses of the word, in his last two starts, which were at longer distances than the 6 ½ furlongs here, which were run on sloppy tracks. Top Recruit ran quite well earlier this season sprinting on fast dirt, and as that is exactly what he will be doing in the Ed Brown, we think his results will be much improved, especially since he drew the tactically advantageous outside post position. Look for Top Recruit to press the pace early, and to draw away late; we will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Top Recruit.

Churchill Downs, Race 10, 5:27 pm ET

Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

A field of ten juvenile fillies lines up for the Golden Rod, which we think is a reminder of an important handicapping axiom, that the likeliest winner in a race is not always the best bet. That is the case, we think, with 4-Hoosier Philly, who is a deserving favorite after reeling off two extremely impressive wins at Churchill Downs earlier this fall. We think her edge over her nine rivals is slight, and since she is going to be a very short price – she’s even money on the morning line, and will likely be shorter when the gates open – we think she’s a play-against. She might just win by a pole, but if she does, it will be without our money.

The pick is 5-Black Forest. She has just one career win her credit, when she beat maidens in her last start at Keeneland on November 4, but there are two things about the way she ran that day that make us think she has a shot here: the first is that she earned a good speed figure for the effort; the second is that she did so despite setting the pace while running very quick early fractions. When young horses outrun an unfavorable pace scenario this way, it can be a sign that they are very talented, and improving rapidly; we think that is the case with Black Forest, and that is what we think makes her dangerous here. At 20-1, we think that makes her an excellent play, and will bet her to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 10, $40 to win on 5-Black Forest.

Churchill Downs, Race 11, 5:56 pm ET

Grade 2 Jockey Club Stakes, 2-Year-Olds

The Jockey Club Stakes drew a field of nine, but we have eyes for just one: 8-Instant Coffee, who finished fourth in his last start, the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland in October. The winner that day was a colt named Forte, who went on to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile, and who will be named Champion juvenile when the Eclipse awards are announced early next year. We could give a bunch of reasons why we think Instant Coffee will with the Jockey Club Stakes, but the most important is the most succinct: None of the colts he will face today are in the same solar system as Forte in terms of ability. We will bet Instant Coffee to win at 5/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 11, $40 to win on 8-Instant Coffee.

Del Mar, Race 7, 6:30 pm ET

Grade 2 Seabiscuit Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

Nine go in the Seabiscuit. We have mentioned this before, but we think so little of the abilities of the turf horses based in Southern California that the first thing we do when assessing a race like this is to look for shippers, as horses coming east, even mediocre ones, can be appreciably better than the locals. There are a couple in this field, but the one we think looks the best is 8-Set Piece, a stretch-runner from the Brad Cox barn who has been running against much tougher of late. Look him to be rolling late; we will bet Set Piece to win at 5-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $40 to win on 8-Set Piece.

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

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