Garrity's Sunday Stakes Picks the Top Flight at Aqueduct, Temperance Hill at Oaklawn, American at Santa Anita

Garrity's first post is 4:34 pm EDT.
Racing at Aqueduct.
Racing at Aqueduct.NYRA

We have three plays on this first Sunday in April, from Aqueduct in New York to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas to Santa Anita Park out West. We expect fast dirt and firm turf; let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:34 pm ET

$100,000 Top Flight Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Seven older females go in the Top Flight. Most of the attention, and most of the public’s wagering dollars, will be on favored 4-Kathleen O, who has won multiple graded stakes in her career, and who makes her second start of what her connections hope will be a very productive season. On paper, she is overwhelmingly the likeliest winner.

But we are against her, as she has not actually won a race in 365 days: her last victory was on April 2, 2022, when she took the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. That was a long time ago, but what is worse is that she burned piles of money in each of her last two starts, finishing second as the heavy favorite each time, and doing so without obvious excuses. She might win by virtue of her superior ability, but at 3/5, we think she’s a bet-against.

The pick is 1-Falconet. Like Kathleen O, she comes off a race when she disappointed as the heavy favorite: she ran second at odds-on in the Heavenly Prize at Aqueduct on Feb. 18, but we are excusing that effort, as it was at a mile distance that is probably shorter than she wants. The nine furlongs of the Top Flight should be much more to her liking, and with speed and an inside post, we think she is going right to the front, and not looking back. We will bet Falconet to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 1-Falconet.

Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:26 pm ET

$150,000 Temperance Hill Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

The Temperance Hill is something that has become exceedingly rare, a stakes race at 12 furlongs on dirt. Very few modern Thoroughbreds possess the stamina to run a mile and a half, but one who does is old warrior 6-Lone Rock, a gelding who won this race last year, finished second the year before, and who has five wins in seven career starts at the distance (in the other two, he finished second and third). He could certainly win, but we are betting against him, partly because his price will be too short, likely even money or less; partly because he’s not raced since July; and partly because it is fair to wonder whether he has lost a step at the relatively advanced age of 8.

The pick is 4-Warrant. He did a speed-and-fade in the Santa Anita Handicap in his last start, and while we think he is going to get the early lead here, he will set the pace so easily, while galloping, really, that we think the rest of the field is going to be spinning their wheels trying to catch him. We think this race is going to be evidence of a counterintuitive truth that is sometimes hard for people new to this sport to comprehend: A longer race does not favor closers because they have more time to catch up; it favors speed, as the early fractions can be so slow that the pacesetters do not get tired. We think Warrant wins the Temperance Hill in wire-to-wire fashion, and will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Warrant.

Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 7:07 pm ET
Grade 3 American Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up

A field of six lines up for the American Stakes. The pick is 4-Exaulted, whose last two starts were very good wins in allowance races, and who here should make it three in a row. Look for Exaulted to get a forwardly-placed trip, either on or just off the lead early, to spurt clear down the stretch, and to hold off the closers late. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Exaulted.

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

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