Garrity picks Sunday at Aqueduct, Laurel, Gulfstream, Fair Grounds & Los Al – a Dad's Hat Happy Hour of races
We are doing a holiday installation of Happy Hour Handicapping: five races at five tracks, from one end of the continent to the other, all in a span of just 45 minutes. We expect fast dirt in the four races on the main track, and good turf in the lone grass race, which is at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana. So pour yourself a glass of Dad's Hat Pennsylvania Rye, and let’s go.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:45 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Seven go in this second-level allowance. The pick is 5-Daphne Moon. Trainer Jeremiah Englehart evidently thought very highly of this 3-year-old filly after she won her career debut at Saratoga in August of 2019, as he threw her right into the deep end of the pool, running her in the Grade 1 Frizette and the Grade 2 Demoiselle off that maiden win. She didn’t run much in either stakes race, but we think she looks primed for this much weaker spot. Look for her to be mid-pack early, and blow the field away late. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Daphne Moon.
Laurel Park, Race 8, 3:53 pm ET
$16,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A good field of nine goes in this claiming race at a mile on the dirt. We like a filly at a price, 2-Ortinola. She makes her first start for new trainer Anthony Aguirre, who claimed her for $10,000 out of her last race, and we like the fact that Aguirre has placed her aggressively, bumping her up to $16,000 company. But we like her running style even more: she’s a stretch runner in a group that looks to go fast early and slow late. We think she can pick up the pieces at a very nice price of 10-1. We will bet her to win. The bet: Laurel Park, Race 8, $30 to win on 2-Ortinola.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:09 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
This sprint drew seven entrants, and we see a pace meltdown: There are a few one-dimensional speedballs in the group, and they are about equally fast. That means that rather than one of them establishing the lead, and then all of them settling down, they’ll all be winging it, trying to establish early superiority. And that will leave all the speedsters out of gas late.
We think 3-Take Command will pick up the pieces. He’s got enough natural speed to stay reasonably close to the leaders, but he also has a very strong stretch kick, which gives him the nod. He’s coming off a long layoff, having last run in September of 2019, but his morning work tab suggests he is ready for a peak effort here. And at 8-1, we like his price. We will bet him to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $30 to win on 3-Take Command.
Fair Grounds, Race 6, 4:25 pm ET
$20,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The turf course at the Fair Grounds was listed as good on Sunday morning, and we think it will stay that way, but there is rain in the forecast, so please check for changes, and late scratches, before this race.
A field of nine is entered for the turf, but we have eyes for only one: 7-Chikara. She comes into this race in razor-sharp form, having won her last two starts, and while they were at a lesser track, Remington Park in Oklahoma, her speed and pace figures mark her as strictly the one to beat. Look for her to sit toward the rear early, and to take the prize with a strong late move. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $35 to win on 7-Chikara.
Los Alamitos (Thoroughbred), Race 3, 4:28 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A field of ten maidens lines up for this sprint, and Bob Baffert trains three of them, including 9-As Time Goes By, a 3-year-old filly from the powerful Coolmore stable, who is winless in two starts, but who ran fast in both of them, fast enough, in fact, to win a race like this. She is the likeliest winner, but at a short price, probably something on the order of 2/5, she is a play-against.
We are taking a shot with a first-time starter, 2-Bay Witch. She has a terrific pedigree, by Mineshaft out of a Holy Bull mare, and she evidently has the looks to back it up, as she sold for the princely sum of $400,000 at the Ocala sale in March of 2019. Trainer Richie Baltas is good with firsters, hitting at a 12% clip on the year, and we think she has a good chance at generous 12-1 odds. We will bet her to win and to place. The bets: Los Alamitos, Race 3, $25 to win/$10 to place on 2-Bay Witch.
That’s all for today, and that’s all for the year: We will be away until opening day of the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting the day after Christmas, which, even though it is in December, has always marked the start of the new year in the Sport of Kings. Until then, we send all of you warm holiday greetings, our sincerest best wishes to be safe, and hopes that the pari-mutuel elves will smile on you.