Garrity's Saturday Stakes picks races at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and the Pippin at Oaklawn Park

Garrity's first post is at 3:29 pm ET.
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It’s a mixed bag of stakes action on this Saturday in deep winter, with five plays: one from Aqueduct, where an impending winter storm has led to accelerated post times, three from Gulfstream and one from Oaklawn Park, where the weather should be better. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races; let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:29 pm ET

$150,000 Ladies Stakes, 1⅛ miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

A half-dozen fillies and mares go in the Ladies. We like 6-Saddle Up Jessie, who has won her last two starts, and who here figures to get a dream trip, sitting just behind what should be a moderate early pace. Sometimes, handicapping a race is hard, but in this case it looks easy, as the horse who has the best recent form looks likely to get the best trip. That means a trip to the windows; we will bet Saddle Up Jessie to win at 2-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $50 to win on 6-Saddle Up Jessie.

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:06 pm ET

$125,000 Ginger Brew Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

A deep field of twelve lines up to run a mile on turf in the Ginger Brew. Partly because of the size of the field, and partly because of the traits of the fillies comprising it, we see a pace meltdown, with very swift early fractions setting the table for a deep closer. We think that will be 10-Yatta, whose last start, a third in the Jimmy Durante at Del Mar a month ago, was deceptively good: she made up a lot of ground that day, and overcame a bit of traffic while doing so. With young horses, this is a sign that she is improving, and that, combined with our expectation that the race shape will favor her, makes Yatta the pick. We will bet her to win at 8-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Yatta.

Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 4:35 pm ET
$100,000 Limehouse Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

A septet of colts line up for the Limehouse. We’re playing against both favories, 2-Valiant Force and 4-Cuban Thunder, as they both were bred in Ireland, and have turf pedigrees, and neither has proven themselves on conventional dirt. We are turning instead to 7-Steeler Mischief, who has finished off the board in his last three starts, but they were all in longer races, and two of them were on different surfaces (synthetic and turf). Here he returns to doing what he does best, sprinting on dirt, and he catches a tactically advantageous outside post position in doing so. Look for Steeler Mischief to stalk the pace early, and roll late; we will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 7-Steeler Mischief.

Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 5:05 pm ET

$125,000 Dania Beach Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The morning line favorite in the Dania Beach, 10-Agate Road, had a very good season last year, breaking his maiden in a tough affair at Saratoga in September, and then winning the Grade 2 Pilgrim at Aqueduct a month later. Trainer Todd Pletcher was impressed enough with these efforts that he ran him in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, where he ran a close fifth, a very respectable effort, considering the race was dominated by a pair of European runners. This colt has a blueblood Kentucky pedigree, and very solid credentials - so naturally we can’t wait to play against him, as he is so obvious that it is a mortal lock that he gets overbet.

The pick is 7-Palm Tree, a Godolphin homebred who was merely OK in four starts last year, but who should be much better at 3 than he was at 2. Look for him to prevail with a strong stretch rally; we will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $40 to win on 7-Palm Tree.

Oaklawn Park, Race 9, 5:22 pm ET
$150,000 Pippin Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Five go in the Pippin. Four of them are coming out of a common race, the Mistletoe Stakes on December 9, and the one we think looked the best that day, and the pick here, is 2-Misty Veil, who contested the pace on a day when the track played against runners on or near the lead. We think that she did well to hang on for second in that race, and that means that today, when the track should be much fairer, she is going to run her rivals off their feet. We will bet Misty Veil to win at 2-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 9, $50 to win on 2-Misty Veil.

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

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