Garrity's Saturday Stakes pick the Fair Grounds, Turfway Park: Jeff Ruby, New Orleans Classic, Louisiana Derby
It’s Louisiana Derby day at the venerable old Fair Grounds in New Orleans. We have four plays there, plus an interesting Kentucky Derby prep at Turfway Park in Kentucky, for a Saturday five-pack of pretty good stakes action. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.
Fair Grounds, Race 8, 4:42 pm ET
$100,000 Tom Benson Memorial Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Ten older female turf runners line up for the Benson. We like a mare coming off a layoff, 6-Didia, who began her career in her native Argentina, where she was quite successful, so good, in fact, that she was brought to the U.S. last year. She won her first two races north of the equator,, both on the turf and both at Colonial Downs, last July and August; and while a repeat of either of those races will probably be good enough to win this, we think she will actually be better, as she’s had more time to acclimate to her new surroundings. Look for Didia to be flying late; we will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Lidia.
Fair Grounds, Race 9, 5:04 pm ET
Grade 2 New Orleans Classic Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up
The New Orleans Classic Stakes features eight older handicap horses running a mile and an eighth on the main track. The favorite, and a deserving one, is 2-Art Collector, who comes off a sensationally fast win in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. If he delivers anything close to that kind of race performance here, the rest of the field is running for second money.
But we don’t think Art Collector is going to run like that today, mostly because he’s going to be near a pace that on paper looks like it will be very swift: We think that the shape of the race is going to favor the late runners. And the one of those that we like the most is 5-Rattle and Roll, who was a cut below the best 3-year-olds last year, but who nevertheless had some nice wins in second-tier races like the St. Louis and Oklahoma Derbies. He hasn’t raced since November, but his morning workouts coming into this race have been razor-sharp, and we think he is sitting on a big effort, one that will be aided by a pace that favors his stretch-running style. We think Rattle and Roll will rattle and roll all the way to the winner’s circle, and will bet him to win at 10-1 odds. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Rattle and Roll.
Fair Grounds, Race 10, 5:36 pm ET
Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
The Muniz drew a field of ten. We can’t get past morning line favorite 1-Atone, who won a Grade 1, the Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park, in his last start. Sometimes, handicapping horses races is hard; but in this case, it looks easy, because Atone appears to be the best horse by a pretty significant margin. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 10, $40 to win on 1-Atone.
Turfway Park, Race 10, 6:25 pm ET
Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks, 1 ⅛ miles, Synthetic, 3-Year-Olds
A dozen Classic hopefuls line up to run nine furlongs in the Jeff Ruby Stakes at Turfway Park. Running prep races on synthetic has not been an especially effective path to success in the Kentucky Derby, so the colts who make it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May will probably be throw-outs, but this is an interesting race to handicap in its own right. We like a runner at a price, 3-Event Detail, who was progressing nicely earlier this year, finishing first and second in a pair of Turfway Park maiden races, before trainer Paulo Lobo threw him to the wolves in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park. He finished far, far back that day, but we are drawing a line through the race, as it was run on a sloppy track (conventional dirt), and he was much better in his two prior tries on synthetic. We think Event Detail improves significantly running back on the lint, and that makes his 15-1 morning line number too good to pass up. We will bet him to win. The bet: Turfway Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 3-Event Detail.
Fair Grounds, Race 12, 6:42 pm ET
Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, 1 3/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A full field of twelve lines up for the Louisiana Derby, the biggest race of the year in the Pelican State. We tried to find a way to beat morning line favorite 2-Instant Coffee, but just couldn’t do it: The Brad Cox trainee not only looks to be better than his eleven rivals, but he figures to get a dream trip, from both a pace and traffic standpoint, and that should produce a race that looks very similar to his last, when he made a sensational move going into the far turn to won the LeComte Stakes very impressively. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 12, $40 to win on 2-Instant Coffee.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.