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Garrity's Saturday Stakes Picks Races at Fair Grounds and Santa Anita: Big day in NOLA with Lecomte, more

Garrity's first post is at 4:30 pm ET. The Lecomte goes off at 7:30.

We are back from our winter vacation, and we’ve picked a good day to return, as there’s a terrific card at the Fair Grounds, with a 14-race program headlined by the Lecomte Stakes for 3-year-olds. We have five plays in today for this January Saturday, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf for all of them. Let’s go.

Fair Grounds, Race 8, 4:30 pm ET

$100,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up

An octet of older turf horses lines up for the Colonel E.R. Bradley. The pick is 5-Ready to Purrform, who was quite impressive winning the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga last summer, but who then ran two bad races in a row, pressing the pace and fading in stakes races at Kentucky Downs in September and at Keeneland in October. We don’t think that either effort was as bad as it looks on paper, and we consequently think he will run better today after being freshened for ten weeks. He is 6-1 on the morning line, but will probably be shorter by post time; we will bet him to win anyway. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Ready to Purrform.

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 6:29 pm ET

$100,000 Astra Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

A nice field of older fillies and mares lines up for the Astra. The distance is going to be key, we think, as the field collectively has one start, and zero wins, at a mile and a half on turf. One who will thrive, we think, is 5-Australia Mia, a 5-year-old mare who was bred in Kentucky, but who has raced exclusively in Chile, where she won multiple graded stakes. We give her the nod partly because she should get the distance, and partly because the rest of the field looks very weak. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $35 to win on 5-Australia Mia.

Fair Grounds, Race 12, 6:30 pm ET

$150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, 1 mile 70 yards, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Seven sophomore fillies go in the Silverbulletday. The pick is 3-The Alys Look, whose last two starts were quite good: she broke her maiden on December 1, and backed that up with an excellent runner-up finish in the Untapable Stakes on December 26. We like both those efforts, especially since they were both at the Fair Grounds, which shows that she likes the racing surface there; but what we like even more is that she earned identical speed figures for those efforts: when young horses pair up figures in consecutive races, it is usually a sign that they will run even better in their next start. A step forward here makes her a major contender, which makes her 3-1 morning line price too good to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 12, $40 to win on 3-The Alys Look.

Fair Grounds, Race 13, 7:00 pm ET

Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

The Louisiana Stakes drew a field of nine. The pick is 8-Zozos, who finished second in last year’s Louisiana Derby, an effort that earned him a spot in the Kentucky Derby, where he was utterly trounced, finishing tenth at 48-1 odds. We will not hold that result against him – he was rushed into the race, utterly unprepared for the cavalry stampede that is the Run for the Roses – and think that Zozos seems poised to run a big race today in his second start off a layoff, and his first start as a 4-year-old. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 13, $40 to win on 8-Zozos

Fair Grounds, Race 14, 7:30 pm ET

Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

The Kentucky Derby trail heats up today in New Orleans, with eight classic hopefuls lining up for the Lecomte Stakes. The pick is 5-Tapit’s Conquest, who comes starts here off a brief layoff, his last start a win in a maiden race on October 1. We like the way he ran that day, as he stalked the pacesetter early, and drew away late; what we like even more is that the race was at a sixteenth, the same distance he will run here. He’s a colt whose best races seem to be in front of him, and we will jump on his bandwagon early: he’s 9/2 on the morning line, and Tapit’s Conquest runs the way we expect him to today, we will not that kind of price on him for quite a while. And it doesn’t hurt that his trainer, Brad Cox, is white hot, winning at a ridiculous 45% clip at the current Fair Grounds meeting. We will bet him to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 14, $40 to win on 5-Tapit’s Conquest.

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

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