Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Belmont Undercard: Woody Stephens, Jaipur, Met Mile (Cody's Wish), Manhattan
The Belmont Stakes is the day’s main event, but do not overlook the undercard: the races on it are terrific stakes in their own right, and a few of them are good betting affairs. We have plays in the four races leading up to the big one, and expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. Let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 3:42 pm ET
Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
An interesting group of thirteen sophomore colts lines up for the Woody Stephens. We like a straight-down-the-line speed play, in the form of 1-New York Thunder, who has tremendous early zip, and who we see getting the early lead from his rail post position. He has never run against this level of competition before, and has never run on conventional dirt, and while those are question marks, he will be a big price, and we think he has a very good shot at winning this race on the front end, especially if, as can happen on these big racing days, the track favors speed a bit. We will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-New York Thunder.
Belmont Park, Race 9, 4:19 pm ET
Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
The Jaipur, which drew fourteen turf sprinters, is the day’s best betting race. The size of the field, plus the prevalence of speed in the horses comprising it, has us thinking that the early pace is going to be very fast, and that has us looking in the direction of 11-Casa Creed, the best late runner in the group. Look for him to be well back early, and flying late; we will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 11-Casa Creed.
Belmont Park, Race 10, 5:04 pm ET
Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
The Met Mile is a big enough race that it probably deserves its own day, rather than getting buried on the Belmont Stakes undercard, but it’s a great race whenever they run it. The 2023 renewal drew a field of nine.
The handicapping question when assessing the group is a simple one: can anyone beat 1-Cody’s Wish? He is in exquisite form, having reeled off five consecutive wins, all in stakes and all in very fast time, and on paper he simply looks better than the rest. If he wins, it will surprise nobody.
But we are not enamored with taking him at 3/5 in a field this deep, and are turning instead to 5-Charge It, who on his best day is as good as anyone in the field, and who appears likely to be better today running a mile around one turn than he was in his last, when he ran 1⅛ miles around two turns at Oaklawn Park. That’s enough for us: we will bet Charge it to win at 6-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 5-Charge It.
Belmont Park, Race 11, 5:54 pm ET
Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
Ten go in the Manhattan. The pick is 3-Warren Point, a European import who comes off a fifth-place effort in the Grade 1 Man o’ War. That might on the surface look disappointing, considering he was a beaten 3/5 favorite, but we think that he ran better than it might appear on the surface, as he closed into very, very slow fractions, took the lead in deep stretch, only to get caught late, finishing only a length and three quarters behind the winner. Considering that was his first start in the United States, we are giving him a bit of a pass, and think he will be better today. Look for him to be flying late; we will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 11, $50 to win on 3-Warren Point.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the races, and, as always, good luck at the windows.