Garrity's Saturday Stakes Picks: 5 races for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park, Aqueduct and Oaklawn Park

Garrity's first Kentucky Derby trail post time is 3:38 pm ET.
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Big cards at Oaklawn and Gulfstream Parks make this first Saturday in February a very playable day. We have picks in five races, all stakes and all featuring 3-year-olds, in New York, Florida, and Arkansas. We expect fast dirt and firm turf; let’s go.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 3:38 pm ET

Grade 3 Sweet Chant Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Eight sophomore fillies line up for the Sweet Chant. 7-Milliat is a strong play: she broke her maiden in Ireland, where she was bred, in September, then just missed in her last start, which was her U.S. debut, when she made up a lot of ground to finish second, just a neck behind the winner, in a minor stakes at Gulfstream Park on December 9. The victor that day, Ozara, has already come back to win again, taking the Ginger Brew Stakes on January 9; that means Milliat should be poised to run big today, especially since we expect a fast pace that will favor her closing running style. We will bet her to win at 5/2 odds. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Milliat.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:55 pm ET
Grade 3 Withers Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

The 2024 renewal of the Withers drew a field of nine. We are taking a swing against the obvious contenders, and are doing so with 8-Uncle Heavy, a Pennsylvania-bred colt with a modest pedigree, who has three career starts, and has run well twice, with the only dull effort a 5th-place finish in the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at Parx, when lost any chance walking out of the gate. We think that is a legitimate excuse, and are willing to give him another chance here, especially since he is trained by Butch Reid, who is based at Parx, but who merits attention when he ships a horse to New York. We will bet Uncle Heavy to win at 10-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 8-Uncle Heavy.

Gulfstream Park, Race 11, 5:08 pm ET

Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

The Kitten’s Joy attracted eleven 3-year-old colts to the starting gate. The early pace on paper looks like it will be moderate, or even slow, which has us going with a speed play, in the form of 3-Tocayo, who should get the early lead, and should do so easily enough that jockey Luis Saez can save enough of his energy to hold off the closers late. This son of Always Dreaming won the Dania Beach Stakes a month ago in front-running fashion; we see a repeat here, and will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $40 to win on 3-Tocayo.

Gulfstream Park, Race 12, 5:45 pm ET
Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Things are starting to get serious on the road to the Kentucky Derby, and the Holy Bull, the featured race on today’s Gulfstream card, will begin to separate contenders from pretenders, a process that will be fun to watch over the next two months. We’re against 7-Fierceness, last year’s juvenile champion, who was sensational winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile last fall; he may be a serious threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but today, coming off a long layoff at 3/5 odds, he looks like a massive underlay, and Rule #1 in this game is always to bet against underlays.

We like 3-Otello. He is undefeated in two career starts for trainer Christophe Clement, and while that is nice, what has us fancying his chances today is the way he ran in those two races: he did well to prevail twice in races run at a one-turn mile distance, but we think he will be better at longer distances and around two turns, like the 1 1/16 mile distance here. Look for Otello be midpack early, and rolling late; we will bet him to win at 9/2 odds. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 12, $40 to win on 3-Otello.

Oaklawn Park, Race 11, 5:50 pm ET
Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

The best Kentucky Derby preps in recent years have been at Oaklawn Park, and the Southwest is a good example, as the race’s fat, $800,000 purse attracted a deep field of twelve. The pick is 7-Carbone, who has yet to be seriously challenged in his two career starts, winning both with impressive ease. While we might normally be inclined to play against a colt like this, for the sake of contrarianism if nothing else, in this case, we think he is the real deal – he simply looks better than the rest. He may win in gate-to-wire fashion, or he may sit just off the early pace, and pounce late; either way, we think Carbone is winning the 2024 Southwest Stakes. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 11, $40 to win on 7-Carbone.

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

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