Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks 3 Grade 1 races at Woodbine, plus Churchill Downs and Hastings Park
We’re getting closer to the the peak of the fall racing season, and an example of this is the card at Woodbine in suburban Toronto, where there are a couple of good stakes on what they are calling Turf Champions Day. We have five plays for this fine fall afternoon, three at Woodbine, and one each at Churchill Downs and Hastings Park out West. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all races, so let’s go.
Woodbine, Race 6, 3:57 pm ET
Grade 1 Summer Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds
A field of eleven juveniles is assembled for the Summer Stakes. Eight of them start for either Mark Casse or Kevin Attard, the leading trainers at Woodbine, but we think that the winner is going to come from elsewhere: the pick is 2-Carson’s Run, who comes from the barn of Christophe Clement. Most of the young horses in the field have thus far shown speed, but little ability to finish strong; we think that this will result in a rapid early pace that favors closers, and Carson’s Run has the best late kick in the race. Look for him to be well back early, and flying late; we will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 6, $40 to win on 2-Carson’s Run.
Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET
Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
Nine colts line up for the the Iroquois. We like the one on the outside, 9-Patriot Spirit, who is short on experience, with just one race under his belt, but long on promise, as he won that race, beating maidens at Colonial Downs three weeks ago, and did so in very fast time. Look for him to press the pace early, squirt clear in mid-stretch, and hold off the closers late. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 9-Patriot Spirit.
Woodbine, Race 8, 5:07 pm ET
Grade 1 Natalma Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies
The Natalma drew a full field of fifteen, which makes it an excellent betting race. We like one making her North American debut: it’s 13-Dea Matrona, who ran twice in her native France, where she was favored in both of her starts, including in her last, when she prevailed over maidens at Strasbourg in June. She ran on firm turf that day, which is a good sign, as she’ll get firm going today; another plus is that she starts for Chad Brown, who excels with European turf imports. Another plus is that she will be ridden by Joel Rosario, one of the top grass riders in the world. We will bet her to win at 10-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 8, $40 to win on 13-Dea Matrona.
Woodbine, Race 9, 5:42 pm ET
Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
European turf horses are so overwhelmingly superior to their North American and counterparts these days that it has become routine for second- and third-string runners to cross the pond and win the biggest turf races we have. An example of this trend is 1-Master of the Seas, who is owned by Godolphin and starts for Charlie Appleby, connections who won this race last year with Modern Games. Master of the Seas would appear on nobody’s list of top Euro grass horses, at this mile distance or at any other, but his five rivals today appear so weak that he has been installed as the odds-on morning line favorite.
While a win by Master of the Seas would be no surprise, we’re picking against him, only because he’s likely to be 1/5, and playing against these kinds of favorites is baked into our contrarian DNA. So the pick is 4-Ice Chocolat, a 5-year-old Brazilian-bred gelding who comes off a very good third-place finish in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga. We like him partly because he seems to be rounding into form, and partly because of his tactical versatility: While he can sit back and make one late run, as he did in the Fourstardave, he has enough speed that he can press the pace, or even set it, if the early fractions are slow. Either way, Ice Chocolat usually finishes strongly, and we think he has an excellent chance at getting first run on Master of the Seas, who will be farther back early, and springing the upset. We will bet Ice Chocolat to win at 9/2 odds. The bet: Woodbine, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Ice Chocolat.
Hastings Park, Race 8, 8:43 pm ET
Grade 3 British Columbia Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
For a nightcap, we turn to Hastings Park in Vancouver, where the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby - we’re a sucker for any kind of derby – drew a field of six. We’re all in on the favorite, 5-Sunbird, who was last seen running fifth in the Canadian Derby at Century Mile on August 26. He faded pretty badly that day, ending up nine lengths behind the winner, but that race was at a mile and a quarter, and we like his chances here, a lot, cutting back to a mile and an eighth. We will bet him to win at 6/5. The bet: Hastings Park, Race 8, $50 to win on 5-Sunbird.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.