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Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks Delaware Park, Ellis Park, Belmont and Woodbine with the Stephen Foster, more

Garrity's first post is at 3:30 PM EDT. Wildfire smoke permitting.

The simulcasting slate this afternoon is a breath of fresh air: after a couple of weeks where the stakes races were few and almost uniformly terrible, there are quite a few playable races on the day’s docket. This is the way summer racing is supposed to be.

We have selected five races, all stakes, to make up the afternoon’s action. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so let’s go.

Delaware Park, Race 7, 3:30 pm ET
Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes, 1⅜ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This turf stakes at Delaware Park came up a corker of a race, with a deep and talented group of eleven older females going to the gate. The field lacks a clear standout, which makes it a great race to bet.

The early pace should be slow, as is the case with many of these longer races on the grass. A handicapper can do one of two things in this situation: the first is to look for a horse who will get loose on an easy lead, and prove difficult to catch; the second is to figure that the field will bunch up with about a half mile to go, and the winner will be the one who can sprint home the fastest. We are going with the second option, which makes the pick 7-Sopran Basilea, a 4-year-old filly who was bred in Ireland but who has raced mostly in Italy, where she hit the board in a couple of Group races. She made her U.S. debut in the Gallorette at Pimlico, where she finished second; because she has the best late kick in this field, we think her result will be better today. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Delaware Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 7-Sopran Basilea.

Ellis Park, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET

Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up

Ten older turf horses go in the Wise Dan. 8-Set Piece is favored, and deservedly so, as he has the best overall record in the field, and comes off a win in the Arlington Stakes at Churchill a month ago, but we are taking a shot against him, as he’ll be a short price, even money or less, and we think he faces a tougher test than he did last time.

The pick is 7-Cowboy Justice. He was bred in Ireland, and has a very good European turf pedigree, and while he’s not shown all that much ability yet, especially in his two starts since being brought to the United States last winter, we think he still has quite a bit of potential. He comes into this off a bit of a layoff, having last raced two months ago, and his morning works suggest that he is going to make a big improvement today. At 20-1, and possibly a bigger price when the gates open, that makes him worthy of a play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Cowboy Justice.

Belmont Park, Race 9, 5:18 pm ET

Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

A field of seven older sprinters goes to the gate for the Nerud. We’re expecting a hot pace, which will favor 3-Weyburn, who should get a good stalking trip, sitting just behind the dueling speedsters, and moving to the front at the top of the stretch. From there, the only question should be whether Weyburn is good enough, and we think the answer will be yes. We will bet him to win at 7/2 odds. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Weyburn.

Ellis Park, Race 10, 5:26 pm ET

Grade 1 Stephen Foster Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

The Stephen Foster may not have its greatest field ever, and it may not be where it belongs – it is usually run at Churchill Downs, which is closed due to track issues – but one of the eight entrants will win this Grade 1. We think it will be 5-Smile Happy, who was exceptionally good last out, winning the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 5 in very fast time. He had a good trip in that race, stalking the pace early, squirting clear at the top of the stretch, and holding on late, and while we are usually inclined to bet against horses who got big figures with the aid of perfect trips, Smile Happy looks poised to get an identical setup today. We see that earning him a trip to the winner’s circle; we will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 5-Smile Happy.

Woodbine, Race 10, 6:05 pm ET

Grade 2 Nassau Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Nine older turf females go in the Nassau. We like it primarily due to the presence of 4-Moira, the reigning Horse of the Year in Canada. She figures to get a lot of backing at the windows for that reason, but we wouldn’t bet her with counterfeit money, Canadian or American, as her four career wins were all in races restricted to Canadian-breds, and against open company, meaning horses bred in the United States and Europe, she is 0-for-3 – and this race, like all graded stakes races, is open to horses bred anywhere. That makes Moira a big underlay, and we are eager to push senior citizens out of the way to get to the window to bet against her.

The pick is 9-Eminent Victor. She is trained by Chad Brown, and while he has been quiet lately, Brown does not ship to Woodbine without intent, and we have a sneaky suspicion that Eminent Victor is sitting on a big race. At 8-1, we are betting on it: we will play her to win. The bet: Woodbine, Race 10, $50 to win on 9-Eminent Victor.

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

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