Dad's Hat Happy Hour horse racing: Garrity picks Aqueduct, Tampa Bay, Gulfstream, Santa Anita & Fair Grounds
Horse Racing at Tampa Bay Downs.Tampa Bay Downs

Dad's Hat Happy Hour horse racing: Garrity picks Aqueduct, Tampa Bay, Gulfstream, Santa Anita & Fair Grounds

Garrity's first Friday post is at 3:50 pm EST. His fifth and final post is at 5:23 pm. Get your wagers in before too many cocktails.

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. If you’ve ever sat on your couch, bemoaning the wait between races at your favorite racetrack, then this is the day for you: we have five races, at five tracks, all in a cocktail-friendly, late-afternoon, ninety-minute window of time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below, so pour yourself a tumbler of Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 3:50 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 4 & Up

This second-level allowance drew a deep field of ten. The pick is 10-Malibu Pro, a 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon who steps up in class today after running very, very good races in his last two starts. We expect him to extend his winning streak to three today, as he’s got the best speed and pace figures, and he gets the outside post, which is a tactical advantage at this one-turn mile distance. Look for him to press the pace from the outside, and to spurt clear in deep stretch. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $25 to win on 10-Malibu Pro.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET

$10,000 Maiden Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

This is a painfully slow group of older female maidens, but we like the race because it looks easy: 9-Dreaming of Paris has a mammoth speed-figure edge on the other runners in the field. She’s 2-1 on the morning line, primarily because all seven of her starts have been on turf, not dirt; we’re hoping that the first-start-on-dirt angle scares bettors away, because she’s a pretty well-bred 4-year-old filly, by English Channel out of a Tiznow mare, and we think that all she has to do is stay upright, and run in a reasonably straight line, to best this field. We will bet her to win. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $35 to win on 9-Dreaming of Paris.

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:42 pm ET

Starter Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

This race is a starter optional claiming, which means that it’s for horses who have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in any prior race. It drew a field of seven sophomore colts.

We like 3-Mister Leonardo, and it’s a pick based partly on class and partly on pace: he fits at this level, as he won for $25k two back; and he has a good finishing kick, which is key in a race that looks to us to have a fast pace, and a winner coming from behind it. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $25 to win on 3-Mister Leonardo.

Santa Anita Park, Race 4, 5:05 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Six go in this maiden dirt sprint for 3-year-olds. The two who figure to get the most wagering attention are on the outside, 5-Hozier and 6-Mr. Impossible, who are first-time starters from the barns of Bob Baffert and Simon Callaghan, respectively. Hozier figures to be odds on, partly because of his glittering pedigree (by Pioneer of the Nile, out of a Tapit mare), partly because of his very fast morning drills, but mostly because of Baffert, who seems to send out this kind of well-bred, expensive, and promising young runner about once a week.

With Hozier almost certain to be odds-on -- he’s 6/5 on the morning line, and will be shorter at post time -- we think Mr. Impossible is a better wager. He too has a good pedigree, being by emerging super-stallion Munnings, he appears to have speed, and drawing outside of Hozier gives him an edge over his rival. We see Mr. Impossible getting a good stalking trip, and wearing down Hozier through the lane. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 4, $25 to win on 6-Mr. Impossible.

Fair Grounds, Race 8, 5:23 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 4 & Up

They’re on the grass for this allowance race at the Fair Grounds, but the turf is yielding, which is important: We wouldn’t give 12-Gunnison much of a chance on firm grass, but he has sneaky good back form on soft going: he ran a good second in an allowance at Laurel on Oct. 11 on good turf, and he won an allowance last July, also at Laurel, over similar going. We also think that the pace will favor him, as he’s a strong finisher in a race whose pace setup, at least on paper, looks to favor that running style. At 20-1, that’s enough for us: we will bet Gunnison to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 8, $25 to win on 12-Gunnison.

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

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