Battle Bling is Garrity's pick in the Go for Wand Stakes.
Battle Bling is Garrity's pick in the Go for Wand Stakes.@TheNYRA on Twitter

Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks the Remsen, Go For Wand, Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, 2 at Del Mar with NY shippers

Garrity's first post is at 2:44 pm EST.

We’re at the shank end of the racing season, but 2022 is going out with a bang, as there are a number of excellent stakes races across the country. We have selected five of them for our plays on this December Saturday, with a trio of dirt races in the East, at Aqueduct in New York, where the forecast is wet, and the track should be sloppy; and a pair of grass races in the West, at Del Mar in Southern California, where the turf should be firm. Let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 2:44 pm ET

Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

Seven go in the Remsen. The deserving favorite is 5-Tuskegee Airmen, who is undefeated in two career starts, the last of which was an impressive win in a minor stakes at Delaware Park in October, an effort that earned him a very good speed figure. He could win, but we think his edge on the track will be much smaller than it will be on the tote board, and think that at a short price – he’s 8/5 on the morning line, and will likely be shorter by post time – he’s a bet-against.

We are going with 7-Dubyuhnell. He too has two career starts, and we like the way he ran in his last, when he won a maiden race at Aqueduct on October 2, a race that was originally carded for grass, but was rained onto the main track. We think that his best races lie in front of him, which is good; what is even better is that the way he’s run so far makes us think Dubyuhnell will like this nine furlong distance, which is pretty far for 2-year-olds at this point in their career. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 7-Dubyuhnell.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:14 pm ET

Grade 3 Go For Wand Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of eleven fillies and mares lines up for the Go for Wand. The pick is 3-Battle Bling, who is in the best form of any horse in the field: she’s won three starts in a row, with her last, a gritty win in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap, the best of the lot. Battle Bling has run nine times this year, which is a lot, but she’s fired just about every time, with her only off-the-board finish back in May, when she ran fourth in the Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill Downs. She simply looks better than the rest, especially at this one-turn mile distance, which is right in her wheelhouse. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Battle Bling.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:43 pm ET

Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up

The Cigar Mile, the last Grade 1 race of the year in New York, drew six entrants. We think the race comes down to two of them, 2-Zandon, a 3-year-old who has been running well, without winning much, against the toughest horses his age; and 7-Mind Control, a 6-year-old who was last seen finishing second in a stakes race at Parx, a race in which he was ultimately the winner after the horse who finished in front of him was disqualified.

It’s a fascinating matchup, the young buck against the grizzled veteran, and we give the edge to Mind Control, primarily because of pace: we don’t see much speed in the field, and that should lead to a moderate pace that plays in favor of the horses in front early, and against the horses trying to make up ground. As Mind Control has much more early speed than Zandon, he should be able to work out a much more advantageous trip, and that should be the difference, especially on a wet track. We will bet Mind Control to win at 5/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Mind Control.

Del Mar, Race 7, 6:30 pm ET

Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

A dozen juvenile turf runners line up for the Jimmy Durante. The local contingent, as usual, looks somewhere between weak and very weak, which has us focusing on 11-Liguria, who ships from New York for trainer Chad Brown. He has one win to his credit, when beat maidens at Aqueduct on October 22, but his effort that day was better, by a pretty significant margin, than anything the Southern California runners have managed. It looks to us that Brown is looking for a soft spot to get Liguria his first stakes win; it also looks like he has succeeded. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $40 to win on 11-Liguria.

Del Mar, Race 7, 7:30 pm ET

Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

Eleven 3-year-olds line up for the Hollywood Derby. We like 3-Celestial City, who has been progressing nicely, if a bit slowly, for trainer Shug McGaughey. He’s been racing in New York this year, and while we were originally surprised to see McGaughey ship a horse to California – he doesn’t do that much – we think there is probably a good reason here, as Celestial City seems to be in excellent form, and this is the last Grade 1 on turf until next year. If Shug thinks he’s sitting on a big one, that’s enough for us – we will bet Celestial City to win at 4-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Celestial City.

And for us, that’s a wrap: we’ll be away for the rest of the year for our annual Winter Solstice freshening. We’ll see you in this space in a few weeks, so until then, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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