Garrity picks a Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour of races at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park & Santa Anita
First post is 4:25 pm EST. Let it rye-d.
It’s Friday, which means another edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, in which we play a series of races in a short window of time. Today’s lineup is even more compact than usual: We have five races being run in just 30 minutes. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, except as noted below. Let’s go.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:25 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, New York-breds 4 & Up
After scratches, six state-breds go in this first-level allowance. The dirt course at Aqueduct is muddy in the wake of the storm that passed through the Mid-Atlantic yesterday, and that is important, as favored 4-Cold Hard Cash is a strong pick on a wet track. Look for him to press the pace from his inside post, and to win going away with a strong move at the top of the stretch. At 8/5, he’s not going to make anyone rich, but we think he’ll get the day off the right way, which is cashing a ticket. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Cold Hard Cash.
Fair Grounds, Race 6, 4:25 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, Louisiana-Breds 4 & Up
New Orleans has had cold temperatures and rain most of this week, so it is unsurprising that this race, which was originally carded for turf, was moved to a fast main track. What is a pleasant surprise is that the surface change did not cause mass defections: even with a few scratches, there’s a field of nine older state-breds. One of them, the main-track-only entrant 12-Cabo’s Rumor, is the pick. She is an amazingly consistent mare, having run well in all her starts going back to last year, and we like her partly for that reason, but also because the pace, which we expect to be fast early, should favor her stretch-running style. Look for her to be mid-pack, or even a bit farther behind, early, and moving late; we will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $35 to win on 12-Cabo’s Rumor.
Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 4:35 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, California-breds 4 & Up
Nine state-bred older maidens line up for this Santa Anita turf sprint. The group is a mixed bag of horses who have run before, with less-than-stellar results, and first-time starters who look unprepared to win. The exception, and the pick, is 6-Queen’s Code, a 4-year-old colt from the Carla Gaines barn who has run twice, and done well both times, a fourth last out on the dirt, and a third two back on the turf at Del Mar in November. We like the switch back to grass, and we especially like the fact that Queen’s Code appears to have caught a pretty weak field. Look for him to sit just behind the pacesetters early, to move to the front at the top of the stretch, and to hold off the closers late. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $35 to win on 6-Queen’s Code.
Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET
$35,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, FIllies & Mares 4 & Up
This claiming dirt sprint drew a field of eight. Sometimes, races are exceedingly difficult to handicap, but this is not one of those times, as 3-Liza Star has controlling speed and superior figures, which make her an easy, and strong, pick. With a clean break, she should dominate this race from start to finish. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Liza Star.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:55 pm ET
$16,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
Six older horses, after scratches, will go to the post in the nightcap at the Big A, a $16,000 claimer. We like a horse at a price, 8-Pearlescent, who goes for two wins in a row here, having broken his maiden last out. That race was on the turf at Gulfstream Park, and this is a dirt race in New York, but he has good off-track breeding, trainer Ruben Gracida has a terrific 38% strike rate with horses who have won their last start, and the outside post position, which is almost always an advantage in one-turn races, should be an even bigger edge here, as being outside will help him avoid having mud kicked in his face. We will bet Pearlescent to win at 8-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $30 to win on 8-Pearlescent.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.