Garrity's Dad's Hat Happy Hour Friday Race Picks: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn
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Garrity's Dad's Hat Happy Hour Friday Race Picks: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn

5 horse races at 5 tracks spread over 75 minutes. First post is 4:24 pm EDT.

It’s Friday, which means we are looking forward to the weekend, and we will celebrate the end of another work week with an installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have five plays in five races at five tracks, and all of them have late afternoon post times that are very conducive to pouring yourself a tumbler of one of the fine, hand-crafted concoctions from our friends at Dad’s Hat, parking your fanny on the living room sofa, and having a flutter on horses running in circles. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below, so let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:24 pm ET

Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Six go in today’s featured race at Aqueduct, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds. The pick is 3-Return the Ring, who won his career debut, at Aqueduct and at this 6 furlong distance, back in November. That race impressed trainer Ed Barker enough that he ran him in a stakes race next out, the Jimmy Winkfield at Laurel Park, on Jan. 31. Return the Ring did not win that day, but he ran well, finishing second, just a neck behind the winner. We think he will move forward today, which makes him strictly the horse to beat. He has speed, so look for him to press the pace early, and earn a trip to the winner’s circle with a big move around the far turn. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $35 to win on 3-Return the Ring.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:48 pm ET

$10,000 Claiming, 5 furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Eight hard-knocking claiming 3-year-old fillies line up for the 8th at Gulfstream. In looking for the winner of this race, we are looking for three things: speed, speed, and more speed, and the fastest filly in the group is 8-She’s Classy, who has run eight times and had the early lead in every race but one, her very first one. She’s the fastest filly in the group on a turf course that will be favoring speed by a big margin, and while the fact that she’s never run on grass before is a concern, she does get the tactical advantage of drawing the outside post. And did we mention that she is fast? We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $30 to win on 8-She’s Classy.

Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 5:08 pm ET

$50,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A full field of nine female turf runners line up for the 3rd at Santa Anita. Of them, 6-Amiko Chow, is by Lope de Vega, who is based in Ireland and is one of the top turf stallions in the world. How an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly ended up running in a maiden claimer in California, we have no idea, but she looks like she found a field she can handle, and we also think that the race shape will favor her, as she’s a stone-cold deep closer, and there’s enough speed in the field to set up her late charge. Look for her to be at the rear early, but first at the wire; we will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $40 to win on 6-Amiko Chow.

Fair Grounds, Race 8, 5:23 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

They were off the turf yesterday at the Fair Grounds, but we are expecting this race to stay on the sod, and to be run over a softer course, something on the order of good. We like 9-All Fact, a Joe Sharp trainee on a four-race winning streak. We think she makes it five today, as this distance, the condition of the turf course, and the expected race shape are all right in her wheelhouse. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 8, $30 to win on 9-All Fact.

Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:40 pm ET

Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Six tough older females line up here. Speed has been quite good at Oaklawn of late, which makes the pick 4-Headland, who has a significant edge in early speed over the rest of the field. We expect her to get the lead, and to do so quite easily, and from that advantageous position, they’re not going to be able to catch her. We think Headland wires this group, and we'll bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 4-Headland.

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

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