Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks the Gallant Bob, Cotillion, Pennsylvania Derby at Parx, 2 at Churchill Downs
The big news on this fall Saturday is weather: the remnants of a messy tropical system are going to be a big problem in suburban Philadelphia, where the Pennsylvania Derby headlines the biggest card of the year in the Keystone State. It’s going to be a rainy, sloppy mess, which is a shame, considering that this is by far the biggest day of the year at Parx Racing: that their big day will happen on what might be the worst day of weather all year really is buzzard’s luck.
Still, the show must go on, so we have five plays, three at Parx, where the main track will be sloppy and sealed, and two at Churchill Downs, where there is an evening card, and where we expect fast dirt and firm turf. There’s money to be made, even in the liquid sunshine, so let’s go.
Parx Racing, Race 11, 4:35 pm ET
Grade 2 Gallant Bob Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt,
A group of ten lines up for the Gallant Bob. We’d probably like 9-Ryvit a little bit on fast dirt, but we like him a lot more in the slop: he has the most natural speed in the field, and his outside post will allow jockey Tyler Gafflione to avoid kickback should he break a little bit slowly. This is a colt who has run on an off track four times in his career, and finished first or second in three of them; today, we think Ryvit goes right to the lead, and stays there splashing all the way around the track. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Parx, Race 11, $40 to win on 9-Ryvit.
Parx Racing, Race 12, 5:20 pm ET
Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Nine go in the Cotillion. The pick is 5-Occult, a Chad Brown trainee who seems to be rounding into peak form, as she comes off a 10¼ length win in the Monmouth Oaks on July 29. She has yet to run over going as wet as what she will see today, but both her breeding – she has an exceptionally good wet-track pedigree – and her race record (she’s 2-for-2 on dirt rated good) suggest that she will handle it with aplomb. Look for her to be mid-pack early, and rolling late. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Parx, Race 12, $40 to win on 5-Occult.
Parx Racing, Race 13, 6:10 pm ET
Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The 2023 renewal of the Pennsylvania Derby drew a field of eleven. 3-Saudi Crown certainly makes sense on paper, as his last two races were huge: He earned big speed figures in both the Jim Dandy at Saratoga and the Dwyer at Belmont Park. But we are taking a shot against him, as he had a very easy trip in the Jim Dandy, setting the pace on a speed-favoring sloppy track, and still didn’t win (he finished second, a nose behind the winner). We think he is unlikely to get such a good trip today, and that makes him unappealing as a wagering proposition, especially at a relatively short price.
We like 4-Magic Tap. He is lightly raced, with just four career starts, and while that by itself might suggest that we’ve yet to see his best, what really makes us excited about his prospects today is the going: We move him way up in the slop. He has enough natural speed to avoid traffic trouble, especially from his inside post; his recent workouts are fast, which suggests he’s sitting on a big effort; add it up, and we think Magic Tap prevails in the Pennsylvania Derby. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Parx, Race 13, $40 to win on 4-Magic Tap.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 9:39 pm ET
$300,000 Harrods Creek Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Seven go in the Harrods Creek. We’re all in on 3-Loyal Company, who cuts back to 7 furlongs after a close third-place finish in a mile race at Ellis Park last month. Look for him to sit just behind the first flight of horses early, move to the front around the far turn, and run away down the long Churchill stretch. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Loyal Company.
Churchill Downs, Race 9, 10:11 pm ET
$175,000 Seneca Overnight Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
A mediocre group of eight sophomore fillies lines up for the Seneca. The one who looks the best to us is 7-Xigera, who seven career starts, with six of them on turf. She did pretty well on the sod, including a win in a minor stakes race at Ellis Park in July, but we think she is more suited to running on dirt, as evidenced by a very good fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes last fall, the one time she tried the surface. She looks better – much better – than her rivals in this spot, and that makes her 9/2 morning line number too good to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $50 to win on 7-Xigera.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.