Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks CCA Oaks at Saratoga, TVG Haskell at Monmouth, San Clemente at Del Mar, more

Garrity's first post is at 5:06 pm EDT.
Racing at Monmouth Park.
Racing at Monmouth Park.@MonmouthPark on Twitter

It seems like it’s taken a long time to arrive, but the first big Saturday of the summer is here. The day’s biggest races are at Monmouth Park, where the Haskell headlines a stakes-studded 14-race program; but there are also graded stakes at Saratoga and Del Mar. We have selected five races as worthy of our attention; we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all, so let’s go.

Monmouth Park, Race 11, 5:06 pm ET

Grade 1 United Nations Stakes, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

The United Nations, a race with a long and rich history, drew a field of ten older turf horses. If it is not quite a Grade 1 field, it is nonetheless a good betting race. Our eyes are drawn to a Southern California shipper, 6-Planetario, who was last seen winning the San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita a month ago. We don’t think he beat much that day, but he did look good; we think he will prevail here for one main reason: his trainer, Richard Mandella, who is as good as it gets in this sport, and who rarely leaves his California base. To put it bluntly, we don’t think that Mandella came for the Jersey Shore ambience, however nice it may be: he came because he thinks Planetario is sitting on a big race. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 11, $50 to win on 6-Planetario.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 9, 5:42 pm ET

Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

A half-dozen 3-year-old fillies line up for the CCA Oaks. The pick is 4-Gambling Girl, who comes off a runner up finish in the Kentucky Oaks. Her result that day was almost certainly aided by the race shape – the early pace collapsed, and closers, like her, dominated – and while we would usually try to play against a horse coming off this kind of favorable trip, we think she will get a similar setup here. Look for her to be well back early, and rolling late; we will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Gambling Girl.

Monmouth Park, Race 12, 5:45 pm ET
Grade 1 Haskell Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

A deep and interesting group of eight 3-year-olds makes up the field for the 2023 running of the Haskell Stakes. A sign of the quality of the field is that this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, 4-Mage, is not the favorite: he’s the 3-1 second choice behind 8/5 morning line choice 8-Arabian Knight, who is undefeated in two career starts, and who might have been the favorite in the Run for the Roses had physical issues not knocked him off the Derby trail this winter. He’s a very talented horse with blazing early speed, and while it might just be that he is so overwhelmingly superior to the rest of this group that he we will win, he has just two career starts, and we think there is a very real chance that lack of experience, plus having to come off a layoff (he last ran in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in January) may catch up to him. At a short price, we’re playing against Arabian Knight.

The pick is Mage. Though he certainly benefited from the way the Kentucky Derby was run – the early fractions were suicidally fast, and Mage was well back early – he had just three prior starts, and that he was able to win the race under any circumstances is a sign that this is a very talented colt. He looks the best; we will bet him to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 12, $40 to win on 4-Mage.

Del Mar, Race 7, 8:05 pm ET

$100,000 Osunitas Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

A big field of fourteen 3-year-old fillies lines up for the Osunitas. It’s a skull-buster of a race, and with the number of entries, a handicapper could go in many different directions, but the way we are going is directly at 14-Symphony Perfect, who was bred in Ireland, began her career in England, and has improved steadily in three starts since being brought to the United States last winter. She will need to make another step forward here to contend, but we think that she seems quite capable of that, especially since the early pace looks swift, which will play into her closing running style. We will bet her to win at 12-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $40 to win on 14-Symphony Perfect.

Del Mar, Race 9, 9:05 pm ET

Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The San Clemente, another sensational betting race at Del Mar, drew fourteen entrants, but we have eyes for just one: 11-Wed, who makes her American racing debut after running 7 times in Europe. We like the fact that Wed was pretty good on the Continent, good enough that she earned a start in the Prix Marcel Boussac, a prestigious Group 1 race for 2-year-old fillies run at Longchamp in Paris every fall. But what has us salivating over her prospects here is the going: While she’s faltered on softer grass, she won all three times she ran on turf courses rated firm, and one of them was a Group 2 stakes race last summer. This is a talented filly who is going to love the very firm turf she’ll get at Del Mar this afternoon; she looks very much the best, so we will bet her to win at 6-1 odds. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $50 to win on 11-Wed.

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

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