Up Is Up, ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala, racing at Los Alamitos Race Course
Up Is Up, ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala, racing at Los Alamitos Race Course|@losalracing on Twitter

Friday at the track: Garrity picks races at Churchill Downs, Los Alamitos, and Belmont Park

First post time is 4:46 pm EDT

Chris Garrity

We have three late afternoon plays on this fine, early summer Friday. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all three. Let’s go.

Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:46 pm EDT

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

A full field of ten lines up for this very, very tough non-winners-of-four allowance. We’re expecting a hot pace, as the two favorites are both speed types, and both drew outside post positions, which will require them to go fast out of the gate to avoid getting hung wide around the first turn. That makes 4-Doctor Mounty the play: he’s a stone-cold deep closer who should get an ideal setup, and he’s shown in the past that he can win with a favorable pace scenario. Look for him to be in the rear early and flying late. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $35 to win on 4-Doctor Mounty.

Los Alamitos, Race 4, 5:28 pm EDT

Maiden Special Weight, 5 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

Los Alamitos kicks off its brief summer Thoroughbred meet today, and as it’s sandwiched between the marathon Santa Anita meeting and the high-profile Del Mar summer meeting, it seems like something of an afterthought. That’s too bad, because we like the card there today, and we especially like this race, primarily due to the presence of 7-Schnell, a first-time starter trained by Simon Callaghan. He checks all of our handicapping boxes for these baby races: he’s out of a stallion, Star Guitar, who is good at siring first-out winners (17% of his firsters in at first asking); he has worked steadily and well in the morning; he comes from a barn that is good with debut horses (Callaghan wins with 23% of his firsters); and to top it all off, he drew the outside post, which is a tactical advantage in these one-turn races. Add it all up, and 7-Schnell is a go: we think he wins this race. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 4, $40 to win on 7-Schnell.

Belmont Park, Race 9, 5:36 pm EDT

$25,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This bottom-level maiden claimer for state breds has a big field, with 14 runners. In a very wide open race, we’re going for a first-time starter, and a big price: 5-Henning’s Penny has started once, and while she did not show much in that race, it was on turf, and was against Maiden Special Weight company. Today she switches to dirt, which her pedigree suggests will be her preferred surface, and also makes the biggest class drop in racing, going from Maiden Special Weight to maiden claiming company. She also gets blinkers, which should get her to be closer to the pace. We will bet her to win and to place at 20-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $15 to win/place on 5-Henning’s Penny.

Want more? Check out my picks for today's PDJFund Handicapping Contest here!

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