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Garrity's Saturday Stakes Picks the Champagne at Aqueduct, Plus Grade 1 races at Keeneland and Santa Anita

Garrity's first post is 3:46 pm EDT.

After what has seemed like interminable weeks of lousy racing, suddenly, on this first Saturday in October, there are more good races than a railbird can shake a rolled-up program at: Big cards at Aqueduct, Keeneland, and Santa Anita mean a gaggle of stakes, most of them excellent. We have selected five as worthy of our attention, three from Kentucky sandwiched around one each from New York and California. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all, except as noted below, so let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:46 pm ET

Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

Eight go in the Champagne. With rain in the forecast, the track should be wet, and that means we are going to take a shot against favored 6-Fierceness, who earned a big speed figure winning a maiden race in his career debut six weeks ago. We will do so with 4-General Partner, who would be worth considering on fast going, but who we move way up in the slop: Look for him to press the pace early, and splash to a victory with a big move down the Aqueduct home stretch. We will bet General Partner to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-General Partner

Keeneland, Race 8, 4:43 pm ET

Grade 1 First Lady Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

The First Lady, a very good mile turf stakes race for fillies and mares, drew eight runners. 3-In Italian, who has been exceptionally good going back to the spring of 2022, makes a lot of sense, but we are playing against her, primarily because of price: Her odds will be shorter than her chance to win the race. The pick instead is 4-Jumbly, who has been competitive, if not exactly a star, in Group 2 races in England and Ireland, but who just missed in her lone U.S. start, finishing a close third in the Ballston Spa at Saratoga in August. She had a bit of traffic trouble in that race, but with an inside post, should get a cleaner trip today, and that means Jumbly is going to the winner’s circle. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Jumbly.

Keeneland, Race 10, 5:45 pm ET

Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

The Coolmore Turf Mile is a stakes race run – you guessed it! – at a mile on turf. This year’s renewal drew a field of nine. We began and ended our handicapping effort for the race by drawing a line through program numbers 2 through 9: this is a group that 1-Master of the Seas appears to have over a barrel. We see this Godolphin/Charlie Appleby 5-year-old winning this race quite easily, as the one thing that could cause him problems, traffic trouble, should be a non-issue given his rail post. We are expecting something special from Master of the Seas today, and will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 10, $50 to win on 1-Master of the Seas.

Santa Anita Park, Race 8, 7:41 pm ET

Grade 2 Rodeo Drive Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of eight go in the Rodeo Drive. The hopes of the locals will ride primarily on 2-1 second choice 2-Anisette, who is undefeated in three starts, all on the West Coast, since being brought to the United States earlier in the year. We hope that the locals back her heavily at the windows, because we think she has little chance to win, as all of her American races have been against fellow 3-year-olds, and here she faces older competitors for the first time, including East Coast shipper 6-Didia, who is the pick. Didia comes off a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 New York Stakes at Belmont Park in June, and while her effort that day looks pretty good on the surface, we think it was much better than it might appear at first glance, as the early fractions that day were very slow, which played against her closing running style. That she was able to get up for second shows that she is in very good form, and with a more favorable pace scenario, which we expect here, we think she is simply going to blow away this field. Look for her to gallop comfortably early, and to prevail with a big late run. We will bet Didia to win at 9/5 odds, and will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 8, $50 to win on 6-Didia.

Santa Anita Park, Race 9, 8:11 pm ET

Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

The American Pharoah drew a field of eight promising juveniles. Santa Anita is the home turf of Bob Baffert, who starts a pair, including 2-Muth, who is going to be a very short price after running big speed figures in both his starts. While he could certainly win, we think he is a very poor wagering prospect, as he has yet to run around two turns, and his running style suggests that he might struggle with distance over a mile. Muth sold for $2 million back in April, and maybe that is an indication that he is so physically superior he will prevail here. But at 3/5, we are betting against it.

We like 6-Be You. Like Muth, he has yet to run around two turns, but both his pedigree and his running style suggest, to us, that he will be better at longer distance than he was sprinting. And it is worth noting that he is trained by Todd Pletcher, who does not ship many horses out West – it looks to us like he has done so here for a very good reason. This is a horse who would be a much shorter price if this race were held anywhere else in the country, but in Baffert’s backyard, we think we might get Be You’s 4-1 morning line price. We will bet him to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Be You.

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

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