Garrity picks Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour races at Aqueduct, Oaklawn, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Fair Grounds
The horses go to the post from 4:24 to 5:43 pm EDT.
It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, a pari-mutuel version of speed dating, when we cram a day’s worth of action into a few cocktail-friendly, late afternoon minutes. Today we have six plays in six races at five tracks in just over an hour. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so put some one of the fine, hand-crafted Dad’s Hat concoctions into a souvenir glass from your favorite racetrack, and let’s go.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:24 pm ET
Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A big field of ten 3-year-olds lines up for this starter allowance. The pick is 6-Civil War, who earned a very good 71 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start, running 6th in the Withers Stakes. He finished over 11 lengths behind the winner that day, and while some discount figures earned while finishing that far up the track, we do not: We think that the Withers was a fast race, that the fig Civil War earned in it is a legitimate one, and that makes him strictly the horse to beat here. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Civil War.
Oaklawn Park, Race 6, 4:38 pm ET
$40,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
The 6th at Oaklawn is a claiming dirt sprint, the kind of race that fills cards on every track in the country, and it drew a field of eight. We like a horse, 3-Crypto Cash, who ships in from Louisiana, dropping into claiming company for the first time after running competitively in the Fair Grounds allowance ranks. We like the class drop, we like the fact that he cuts back to a sprint after running in longer races, and we like his pace-pressing style, which is a fit for how most races are won on the Oaklawn dirt. Look for him to be just behind the early speed early, and in front at the wire. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 6, $35 to win on 3-Crypto Cash.
Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 5:08 pm ET
$30,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
Nine 3-year-old maidens line up for the 3rd at Santa Anita. We like 2-Sky Navigator, who is dropping in class, from $50k to $30k company, but what we like more about that is his running style: He’s a stretch-runner in a field that is filled with cheap speed. We see a hot pace early, the pacesetters getting the staggers late, and Sky Navigator picking up the pieces. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Santa Anita Park, Race 3, $30 to win on 2-Sky Navigator.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 5:22 pm
Allowance, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
This is the kind of race we love, a second-level allowance turf marathon. The pick is 1-Jais’s Solitude, who simply appears better than the other four older horses entered. Look for the early pace to be slow, and look for Jais’s Solitude to earn a trip to the winner’s circle with a strong late move. We will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 1-Jais’s Solitude.
Fair Grounds, Race 8, 5:23 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up
A full field of ten older horses goes to the post for the 8th in New Orleans, a first-level allowance turf sprint. We like 1-Complex System, who has run three good races in a row going back to last fall. He won his last start, and while that race was on dirt, we think he’s better on grass, as he has a turf-oriented pedigree, and all his previous starts were on the sod. We think he makes it two in a row for trainer Louie Roussel and jockey Adam Beschizza, and will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 8, $35 to win on 1-Complex System.
Santa Anita Park, Race 4, 5:43 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up
A field of six older horses lines up for this second-level allowance turf sprint. We’re going with a price, 2-Restiany, an English-bred 4-year-old who makes his second North American start here for trainer John Sadler. His first wasn’t much to write home about, but we think he looks poised for a rebound. We like his class -- he’s a son of all-time great Frankel -- and we like that the race should have a fast early pace that will set up his late run. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $40 to win on 2-Restiany.
That’s all for now. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.