Garrity's Saturday Stakes Picks Oaks and Derby at Belmont & Horseshoe Indy, Delaware Handicap, Los Alamitos
The stakes racing so far this summer has been very weak, with short fields, with far too many short fields producing far too many unpalatable races. So today’s simulcasting slate, which is stacked with excellent stakes from one end of the country to the other, is a very nice change of pace. We have selected six races as worthy of attention: all are quite good, and all six are an opportunity for a score.
We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:43 pm ET
Grade 1 Belmont Oaks, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
A cracking good field of nine lines up for the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks. Among them are a couple of European invaders, one of whom we like very much: It’s 9-Aspen Grove, who has just one win in six career starts, but who has been running against some of the toughest 3-year-old turf fillies on the Continent, including in her last, when she finished last in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh. We give her the nod partly for the company she has been keeping, but mostly because she fits a pet angle of ours: She has been running on soft turf, which is the norm on the other side of the pond, but figures to be much, much better on the firm ground she will get at Belmont Park today. That makes her very live, and at 8-1, an enticing play. We will bet her to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Aspen Grove.
Delaware Park, Race 9, 4:46 pm ET
Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, 1 3/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This is the biggest race of the year in Delaware, so it’s a bit disappointing that it drew just six entrants. Favored 3-Idiomatic makes a lot of sense on paper, as she comes off a fast win in the Shawnee at Churchill Downs last month. We are against her, as she had a very soft trip in that race, leading from gate to wire while setting very moderate fractions. She is a virtual cinch to get the early lead here, but the Del ‘Cap is a furlong longer than the Shawnee, and we think it is no cinch that she can carry her speed over this mile and three-sixteenth distance. That makes taking a short price on her (she will probably be even money or less) thoroughly unappealing.
We like 6-Morning Matcha. She has little speed, but should love the distance: She has done well in her last few starts, but the way she ran, especially last out in the Obeah Stakes, which was run at Delaware Park at the end of May, suggested that she wanted more ground. She will get it today, and that, we think, will put Morning Matcha in the winner’s circle. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Delaware Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Morning Matcha.
Belmont Park, Race 10, 5:49 pm ET
Grade 1 Belmont Derby, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
The Belmont Derby, like the Belmont Oaks that goes two races before it, is a Grade 1, mile and a quarter turf race for 3-year-olds. And like in the Oaks, we like a horse who shipped to New York for the race: 11-The Foxes, who has been excellent in his three races in England this year. He last raced in the Epsom Derby a month ago, when he finished behind some real monsters, colts like Auguste Rodin and King of Steel, either of whom would be heavily favored here. That race was at a mile and a half, and we think the The Foxes is going to be deadly cutting back to 10 furlongs. Sometimes, handicapping races is very complex; in this case, it’s easy, because The Foxes simply looks better than the rest. We will bet him to win at 7/2, and we will do so with gusto. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 10, $60 to win on 11-The Foxes.
Horseshoe Indianapolis, Race 11, 6:03 pm ET
Grade 3 Indiana Oaks, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
The Indiana Oaks drew eight runners. The pick is 2-Taxed, whose last race, a win in the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 19, was a major step forward. She stalked the pace that day, sitting comfortably behind the leaders early, and winning with a strong move late; she should get a similar setup in this spot, and we see a similar result. She’s a 3-year-old filly who is getting good at the right time, and that makes her 2-1 morning line price too good to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Horseshoe Indianapolis, Race 11, $40 to win on 2-Taxed.
Horseshoe Indianapolis, Race 12, 6:40 pm ET
Grade 3 Indiana Derby, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The day’s biggest racing in the Hoosier State is capped off by the Indiana Derby, which drew a field of nine. We’re all in on 5-Verifying, who got cooked in the Kentucky Derby, setting a ridiculously fast early pace; he led for a half mile, then faded badly to finish sixteenth. He rebounded off that effort to finish a good second in the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs a month ago, and here simply seems faster than his eight rivals. Look for him to be forwardly placed early, and well in front late. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Horseshoe Indianapolis, Race 12, $50 to win on 5-Verifying.
Los Alamitos, Race 9, 8:13 pm ET
$125,000 Los Alamitos Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
On paper, the Los Al Derby, which drew a field of six, would appear to be a two-horse race, with either the favorite, 2-Reincarnate, who’s coming off a speed-and-fade in the Kentucky Derby; or second choice 3-Skinner, who missed the big race in Louisville, but who a lot of wise guys liked all spring, likely to win. We are looking past both, however, and going with 5-Smart Mo, who has just one career start, when he won a Santa Anita maiden race a month ago in very fast time. He’s trained by John Shirreffs, who also conditions Skinner, and this is what makes us think that Smart Mo is very live: Sherreffs is famously patient with horses, especially young ones, and for him to run Smart Mo in a stakes off just one career start, the horse must be practically screaming that he’s ready. We think that makes him a major threat to win this race, and to do so at a relatively generous 9/2 odds. We will bet him to win. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Smart Mo.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.