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Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds and the Honeybee and Rebel at Oaklawn

First post is 4:15 pm ET.

The Rebel Stakes, a key early Kentucky Derby prep, headlines a nice afternoon of pretty good stakes racing. For this late winter Saturday, we have plays in five races, from New York to Louisiana to Arkansas; all are on dirt, and we expect fast going for each of them. Let’s go.

Fair Grounds, Race 5, 4:15 pm ET
$75,000 Buttercup’s Song Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, Louisiana-bred 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Buttercup’s Song drew a field of eight 3-year-old Louisiana-bred fillies. We like the one all the way on the outside, 8-For Harper, who showed a new dimension in her last start, when she broke her maiden in her fifth try: that was her first race around two turns, and we like the way that she finished strongly to win that day, especially since there is enough speed in the race to suggest that the early pace today will be swift enough to favor her stretch-running style. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 5, $35 to win on 8-For Harper.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:26 pm ET

$125,000 Stymie Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, 4 & Up

A half-dozen older horses line up for the Stymie. The 7/5 favorite is 3-Repo Rocks, who ran off the screen last time out, winning the Grade 3 Toboggan by 8 ¼ lengths in very fast time. His final time in that race was so fast, in fact, so much faster than he’d ever run before, that we question whether he can do it again, especially since he starts for a trainer whose horses frequently perform in ways that seem to defy the laws of physics. Repo Rocks could certainly win, but at a short price, we are taking a shot against him.

The pick is 1-Bourbonic. He is a 4-year-old who won the Wood Memorial last year, but then went through the meat grinder of the Triple Crown races without much to show for it, finishing far, far back in both the Derby and the Belmont Stakes. The rest of his 2022 season was not much to brag about either, as he finished off the board in six consecutive starts to close out the year. But he has always had some talent, and looks poised to rebound here, as he comes off a sharp allowance win in his seasonal debut earlier this month. Look for him to be toward the rear early, and rolling late. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Bourbonic.

Fair Grounds, Race 7, 5:15 pm ET

$75,000 Half Ours Stakes, 1 mile 70 yards, Dirt, Louisiana-bred 3-Year-Olds

The Half Ours, the second of a pair of pretty playable Fair Grounds state-bred stakes races, drew a field of eight. We see no reason to look past favored 7-Jack Hammer, who has run superior speed figures while going undefeated the first three starts of his career. Look for him to go right to the front, and stay there all the way around the track. We will bet him to win at 7/5. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 7, $50 to win on 7-Jack Hammer.

Oaklawn Park, Race 10, 5:43 pm ET
Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Honeybee is the first of a pair of terrific stakes for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park this afternoon. It drew an evenly matched field of twelve. A few of them are looking to rebound off subpar efforts, including our pick, 8-Defining Purpose. She lost as the even money favorite in her last start, in the Martha Washington Stakes a month ago, and while she did not run terribly that day – she finished third – we do not think she showed her full ability, as the race was run on a sealed track that she didn’t seem to like. She will get a fast track today, and we also think that Defining Purpose will get a good stalking trip in a race whose pace should favor that running style. We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 8-Defining Purpose.

Oaklawn Park, Race 11, 6:33 pm ET

Grade 2 Rebel Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

The Rebel came up a corker of a race, drawing a very deep field of eleven Kentucky Derby hopefuls. A couple of them look like real contenders for the Run for the Roses, including 1-Verifying, 4-Gun Pilot, 5-Giant Mischief, and 6-Reincarnate, each of whom has already run fast enough to be competitive, if not win, on the first Saturday in May.

Any one of them could take the Rebel, but we are taking a shot with a colt who will be a massive price: it’s 9-Event Detail, who has just three starts in his career, and only one maiden win, to his credit, but who we think could be poised to show dramatic improvement in this spot. His last two races were run on the synthetic racing surface at Turfway Park, and if he is better on conventional dirt than on the lint – and we think there is a good chance he will be, especially since he has a pedigree that to us looks dirt-oriented – then he has the ability to win this race. His recent morning workouts have been very fast, a sign that he’s poised to run better than he ever has before; add it up, and we like his chances, especially as he’s 30-1 on the morning line, and might be even higher by post time. We will bet him to win. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 11, $50 to win on 9-Event Detail.

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

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