Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Horse Racing at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, Gulfstream, Santa Anita
6 races go off between 4:25 and 5:23. Let it Rye-d.
It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, our version of pari-mutuel speed dating, in which we will play six races from five tracks, all within a cocktail-friendly, late-afternoon span of about an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below. Let’s go.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:25 pm ET
Allowance, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Eight older females go in this main-track allowance sprint. We see a fast pace, and a winner coming from behind, and that makes the pick 8-Dovey Lovey. She’s a 5-year-old whose best races have been when she’s been able to rally after sitting behind a fast pace, and that is exactly what we see happening here. We will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $30 to win on 8-Dovey Lovey.
Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 4:35 pm ET
Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Ten sophomore fillies line up for this starter allowance, and the past performances make it look almost too easy: 9/5 favorite 2-Disko Fever is coming off a smart maiden win, and has controlling early speed, and the combination of the two makes her absolutely the one to beat. Sometimes it really is as simple as identifying the best horse, and betting her to win. We will do so here. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $40 to win on 2-Disko Fever.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:55 pm ET
$20,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 4 & Up
Nine older maidens line up for this one-turn dirt mile. We don’t particularly care for any of the logical contenders, especially favored 6-Paint Music for Me, a chronic loser who at even money is an underlay of almost biblical proportions. So we are taking a shot, in the form of 3-Ballydooley, an English-bred 4-year-old and Michelle Nevin trainee, who is dropping in class, trying dirt for the first time, and makes his first start since being gelded. That’s a lot going on, but one or more of these just may be enough to wake him up, especially since the rest of this field looks very weak. We also like that he gets the services of rider Eric Cancel, who’s been hot at the Big A of late. We will bet him to win and to place at 20-1. The bets: Aqueduct, Race 8, $20 to win/$10 to place on 3-Ballydooley.
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 5:09 pm ET
$30,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Nine lightly-raced maidens line up for the 7th at Oaklawn, and we expect the main track in Hot Springs to be good for it, not a slopfest, but not quite fast, either.
The pick is 1-Wildwood Flash, a first-time starter, and we like her for two reasons. The first is that the way she has worked in the morning is impressive; the second is that her trainer, Scott Becker, is very good with firsters. We think she can win at first asking, and as a result, we think her 8-1 price is especially juicy. We will bet her to win. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $30 to win on 1-Wildwood Flash.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 5:16 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, FIllies & Mares 4 & Up
This turf allowance drew a full field of twelve, and like most races with big fields, it’s a terrific betting race. We like a Chad Brown runner, 5-Miss Teheran, an Irish-bred 5-year-old mare who’s coming off a good 4th in the Bobby Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 27. We give her the edge partly because of that back class, but also because her inside post should allow her to save ground, which will be an issue for the horses to her outside. Look for her to be toward the rear early and moving late; we will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 5-Miss Teheran.
Fair Grounds, Race 8, 5:23 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Dirt, Louisiana-breds 3 & Up
It’s a rainy day in the Big Easy, which has moved this state-bred maiden affair from turf to the dirt, and also resulted in a slew of scratches. But even after the defections, a nice field of ten will line up to run a mile over what should be a sloppy racing surface.
The pick is 9-Irish Bayou, who just missed last out in a virtually identical spot, finishing second, a neck behind the winner, in a maiden race that was rained off the turf and onto the dirt. A repeat of that effort will probably earn him the victory here, but we actually think he’ll do better, as it’s the third start of his career, and this should have him primed for a peak effort. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 8, $30 to win on 9-Irish Bayou.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.