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Garity's Saturday Stakes picks Oaklawn, Santa Anita's Santa Maria and Golden Gate Fields' San Francisco Mile

Garrity's first post id 5:56 pm EDT.

It’s the last Saturday in April, and while we can’t quite grasp where the month went, and the fact that the Kentucky Derby is just a week away, we have pulled our head out of our Derby prep work long enough to dope out four races this afternoon and evening, a pair in Arkansas and a pair out West. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all four, so let’s go.

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 5:56 pm ET

$150,000 Dig A Diamond Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Seven go in this mile stakes race for older females. We like 5-Gunning, who has thus far been exclusively a sprinter, but who today tries running around two turns for the first time, something both her pedigree and her running style suggest she will thrive at. She’s a lightly raced 4-year-old filly with a lot of upside, and we expect her to show that potential, and become a stakes winner, today. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Gunning.

Oaklawn Park, Race 10, 6:36 pm ET

$150,000 Bachelor Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

An interesting group of eight 3-year-olds lines up for the Bachelor. We have an idea of the abilities of most of these colts, but one who we think has not yet shown his true abilities is 3-Mo Strike, who is the pick. He won the first two races of his career as a juvenile last year, including the Grade 3 Sanford in his second start, but faltered after that, doing a speed-and-fade in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga in September. Maybe he faltered that day because of the sloppy track; maybe he was just not as good as the winner, who was Forte – who is merely last year’s champion juvenile, and the current Kentucky Derby favorite. Since there is no horse in the race anywhere near that level, we think Mo Strike handles this group easily. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 10, $50 to win on 3-Mo Strike.

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 8:07 pm ET
Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Six go in the Santa Maria, but we have eyes for just one: 1-Kirstenbosch, who will be the beneficiary of a pace duel that we expect early in the race. Look for her to sit comfortably behind dueling speedsters early, and roll late; we will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Kirstenbosch.

Golden Gate Fields, Race 11 ,9:24 pm ET

Grade 3 San Francisco Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

A field of nine lines up for the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate. The main contenders are horses who have shipped up from Southern California, including 2-Balnikov, who was very good as a 3-year-old last year, and who will get a lot of support as a result. We’re against him here, however, partly because he will be a short price, and therefore underlaid, and partly because he has not been as good this year as he was last.

We like 8-Flavius. At 8, he’s an older horse now, but he has a lot of back class, having run well in previous seasons in some pretty salty races. He makes his first start for new trainer George Papaprodromou, and while he has nowhere near the name recognition that his previous trainer, Chad Brown, does, we think the new barn is a positive sign, as Flavius was likely an afterthought in Brown’s loaded barn, but will be a star for Papaprodromou. He last raced over a year ago, but his morning works of late seem to indicate that he’s fit and ready; that makes him a good play at a relatively generous 5-1 number. We will bet him to win. The bet: Golden Gate, Race 11, $50 to win on 8-Flavius.

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

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