Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Horse Racing: Garrity picks 4 stakes races – 1 at Aqueduct and 3 at Keeneland
Post times are from 4:24 pm EDT until 5:30. Let it Rye'd.
We have a special edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, for this is a Friday that is good for more reasons than one: Not only is it a solemn holiday for the world’s Christians, but it’s opening day at Keeneland. The short spring meet in Lexington, which runs through April 23, is always something to celebrate, partly because the racing is world-class, and partly because it is as sure a sign of spring as the robin and the crocus.
It seems appropriate that we have an all-stakes lineup today, covering four stakes that will be run in about an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt in all races, and good turf at Keeneland, so pull up a chair, pour yourself one of the hand-crafted libations from Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 7, 4:24 pm ET
$100,000 Palisades Turf Spring, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The Palisades drew a field of ten, and the past performances of most of them have a common theme: fast early and slow late. That means an early pace that is unsustainably fast, front-runners gasping for air down the stretch, and the winner coming from behind.
We found a closer that we think has a chance: it’s 10-J C’s Champ, who has the best late-pace figure in the field. He’s run three times, all on the synthetic surface at Turfway Park, and while his results in those three contests were fair-to-middling, he appears to have a decent turf pedigree, he has a very skilled trainer, Aaron West, and the fast pace we are expecting should play right into his wheelhouse. And get this: he’s 50-1. Look for him to be flying late; we will bet him to win and to place. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $30 to win/$20 to place on 10-C J’s Champ.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:34 pm ET
Grade 3 Distaff Handicap, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Six go in the Distaff, a fine featured race for a Good Friday afternoon at the Big A. We like 9/5 second choice 2-Lady Kate, who comes into the race off a four-month layoff, and who cuts back to 7 furlongs after running around two turns in her last four starts. We think she will be ready to fire today, and we think the shape of the race will favor her pace-pressing style. She may get the lead, or she may sit just off it; either way, we think Lady Kate wins the Distaff Handicap. We will bet her to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Lady Kate.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:57 pm ET
Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
There are a couple of speedballs among the seven sophomore fillies who line up for the Beaumont, which is why the pick is 4-Amalfi Princess, who should get an ideal, garden-spot trip sitting just behind the dueling pacesetters, taking over at the top of the stretch, and holding off the closers late. She is probably not the most talented filly in the field, but we think that the pace will make her look that way today. And with the speed horses likely to be overbet, we think she may get a bit overlooked at the windows, making her a good wager. We will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $35 to win on 4-Amalfi Princess.
Keeneland, Race 9. 5:30 pm ET
Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The Transylvania is an example of a fundamental truth in handicapping horse races: sometimes, it’s as simple as identifying the best horse, and betting him to win. In this case the best horse is 4-Fire at Will, who won last year’s Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, which was at Keeneland, and was on a turf course that was very similar to the good turf he will get today. He’s coming off a dismal effort, when he was a well-beaten 8th in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, but we’re willing to draw a line through that race, as he contested a fast early pace before fading, and today he’s back on grass, which is his preferred surface. He may set the early pace here, or he may sit just off it; either way, he’s getting his picture taken after. We will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $50 to win on 4-Fire at Will.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.