Garrity's Sunday Stakes Picks for Woodbine: Grade 1 EP Taylor, Grade 1 Canadian International, Grade 2 Neartic
It’s the biggest day of the meet, and of the year, at Woodbine in suburban Toronto. We have plays in three races, all stakes and all on grass, that are guaranteed to be entertaining, and just might be profitable.
It’s looking like a spectacular fall day up in the Great White North, with sunny skies and temperatures that are downright autumnal, but after a good bit of rain the past 24 hours, we are expecting turf with some give in it, something on the order of good. Let’s go.
Woodbine, Rce 7, 4:31 pm ET
Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A good field of ten filly and mare turfers lines up for the E.P. Taylor. The pick is 5-Aspen Grove, whose running line in her last start, when she finished fifth in the Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 5, might look bad on the surface, but we think it was pretty good, considering that she was running against males, and doing so on yielding turf that was much softer than she likes. Here she faces only members of her own sex, and will get going much more to her liking, and we think she can revert to the form she showed winning the Belmont Oaks back in July. We think Aspen Grove is a major threat to win this race, and when you identify a serious contender who is 20-1 on the morning line, there’s only one thing to do, and that is head to the windows. We will bet her to win. The bet: Woodbine, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Aspen Grove.
Woodbine, Race 9, 5:39 pm ET
Grade 1 Canadian International Stakes, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 3 & Up
Much of the public’s attention in the Canadian International, the biggest race of the year at Woodbine, will be focused on 4-Nations Pride, the globetrotting 4-year-old from the powerful Godolphin barn, who won a pair of Grade 1 stakes in New York last year, and who comes off an impressive win in a Group 1 in Germany. He’s the likeliest winner, but he’s going to be 2/5, and we are betting against him, partly because contrarianism is hardwired into our bones, but also because we think he has a very serious rival who will be a square price.
That horse is 8-Royal Champion. He has run well if not spectacularly in three stakes races in England this year, but what we think makes him live is the going: He’s done better on firmer, rather than softer, ground, in his European races, and we think he will thrive on the Woodbine sod today. Another major plus is the presence of trainer Roger Varian and jockey James Doyle, both of whom are based in England: While it doesn’t guarantee anything, it is hard to imagine that the the two of them made the long trip across the ocean because they think they are going to lose. We will bet Royal Champion to win at 6-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 9, $40 to win on 8-Royal Champion.
Woodbine, Race 10, 6:14 pm ET
Grade 2 Neartic Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
A big field of thirteen lines up for the Neartic, a cracking good race from both a sporting and wagering standpoint. We like a big price: 13-Dhabab is an Irish-bred 4-year-old gelding with terrific European turf breeding who was brought to the United States earlier this year after an eight-race career in England. He’s run twice on this side of the pond, and while neither effort bowled anyone over – he finished fifth in an Ellis Park allowance in his debut in July, and then ran sixth in a mile stakes at Kentucky Downs on September 2 – he did, in both of those starts, show signs that he is rounding into form. That he might be sitting on a top effort is one reason to like him, but another is that he cuts back to sprinting after running a mile in both of his American starts. He has a terrific turn of foot, and should be running very strongly down the long Woodbine stretch; we think both the race shape and his outside post will favor that running style. At 20-1, that’s enough for us: we will bet Dhabab to win. The bet: Woodbine, Race 10, $40 to win on 13-Dhabab.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the races, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.