Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Monmouth Park, Belmont, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita – Keertana, Daytona, more

Garrity's first post is 3:26 pm EDT.
Racing at Churchill Downs.
Racing at Churchill Downs.Coady Photography / @ChurchillDowns on Twitter

We have five plays on this Saturday, the first day of the glorious three-day Memorial Day weekend. They go from one end of this great country to the other; we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so let’s go.

Monmouth Park, Race 7, 3:26 pm ET
$100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

Seven go in the Cliff Hanger. The pick is 2-Smokin’ T, who comes off a sharp allowance win at Churchill Downs three weeks ago. He’s a 4-year-old with a blueblood Kentucky pedigree, and while he’s not done much in his 13-race career so far, he looks to us like a late bloomer, a horse who can be better as an older horse than he was at 2 or 3. Smokin’ T figures to get a good trip from his inside post, and his tactical versatility – he can either sit close to the pace, or lay back and make a late run – will be a huge asset. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Smokin’ T.

Belmont Park, Race 7, 4:06 pm ET

Grade 3 Soaring Softly Stakes, 7 furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Soaring Softly is something we don’t see very often, a graded stakes at 7 furlongs on the turf. It’s for 3-year-old fillies, and a half dozen are entered.

Four of the six start for either Chad Brown or Christophe Clement, and we like that, as the entrants from those high-profile trainers are going to attract a lot of attention at the betting windows, which should allow us to get a better price on 3-American Apple, who is probably not the most talented filly in the race, but who has lone speed, and who should therefore get a dream trip, going right to the front out of the gate, setting the lead while running very much within herself, and from that tactically advantageous position holding off the closers late. We see a gate-to-wire victory, and that makes American Apple’s  4-1 morning line number too good to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-American Apple.

Churchill Downs, Race 10, 5:26 pm ET

$225,000 Keertana Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

 A good field of a dozen older turf females lines up for the Keertana. Most of them appear to have little interest, or ability, in staying the marathon 12 furlong distance, which has us eyeing 9-Talbeyah, an Irish-bred 5-year-old mare who should relish the distance. She began her career in England before being brought to North America last spring, and while her results since have not been overly impressive, they have either been on a surface (synthetic) which she appears not to like, or in races shorter than this. We think she wakes up in a big way doing what she was meant to do, running long on the grass, and that makes her a major win threat, and at 12-1, a terrific wager. We will bet her to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 10, $40 to win on 9-Talbeyah.

Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 7:14 pm ET

Grade 3 Daytona Stakes, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up

Seven older horses will run down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in the Daytona. It’s a pretty weak group, which has us focused on a new face, 6-Prince Lancelot, who was bred in England but who has raced mostly in France, where he was pretty competitive against Group 3 horses. That should be enough here: winning at first asking in the U.S. is not easy, but he looks so superior to his rivals that we think he can get the job done, especially since he is trained by Mark Glatt, who flies a bit under the radar in Southern California, but who is a skilled and competent conditioner. We will bet Prince Lancelot to win at 8-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Prince Lancelot.

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:44 pm ET

Grade 3 Triple Bend Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

Seven go in the Triple Bend. We see a wickedly fast early pace, which will play right into the hooves of 7-C Z Rocket, whose should get a dream trip, sitting just behind the pacesetters, ready to pounce when the speedballs have run each other into submission. We’d probably like him irrespective of post, but the fact that C Z Rocket drew outside seals the deal: He’ll have a tactically advantageous trip from both a pace and traffic standpoint. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-C Z Rocket.

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

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