Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: Races at Belmont, Pimlico, Keeneland, Oaklawn, Santa Anita
It’s time for another Friday edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, in which we play a bunch of races in a short period of time. And it’s a special installment, as for the first time in what feels like forever, we have races from Belmont Park and Pimlico in the lineup. We have six plays in six races, all in just over an hour’s time, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. So let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 7, 4:24 pm ET
Allowance, 1 3/16 miles, Turf, 4 & Up
A field of nine lines up for this tough second-level turf allowance at Keeneland, but we have eyes for only one, 5-Ocean Atlantique, a 4-year-old son of American Pharoah who makes his second North American start for trainer Brendan Walsh. He disappointed as the favorite in his last, finishing fifth two weeks ago, but we think that effort was better than it looks on paper, as he was wide throughout, and it was on a turf course that was probably a bit softer than he prefers. This is a colt who was regarded highly enough last year to be 5-1 in major stakes race in France last year, the Group Prix Du Jockey Club at Chantilly in July, and we think Ocean Atlantique is going to show his class in this spot, and we think he is going to show it in a big way. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Ocean Atlantique.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET
$100,000 Affirmed Success Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-breds 4 & Up
Six go in the Affirmed Success. Trainers are hugely important in this game, but there are times when it pays to bet against them, and this seems to be one of them, as Chad Brown and Linda Rice send out the two favorites, 4-Captain Bombastic and 5-Big Engine, respectively, and while either could win, their odds are lower than their chances of winning the race, primarily because bettors always back horses started by Brown and Rice. That means they are both underlays, and the one hard and fast rule in this game is never to bet on underlays: either bet against them or pass the race.
We are betting against them here, and are doing so with 2-Wudda You Think Now, a Rudy Rodriguez trainee who comes off a very good win in an allowance race at Aqueduct on March 14. That race was at a mile, and this is 6 furlongs, but we like the cutback, and what we like even more is that pace figures suggest that he will get a perfect stalking trip from his inside post position. We think Wudda You Think Now is in better form than the favorites, and he’s a better price, and we are jumping on it. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 2-Wudda You Think Now.
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 5:09 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
We’re all over the favorite, 4-Henrys Deal, in this second-level allowance in Arkansas. She’s run three times, has won two of them, and has speed, which is a requirement in a race this short. Look for her to be either on the early lead or just off it, and to blow the rest of the field away with a big move turning for home. We will bet her to win at 8/5. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $35 to win on 4-Henrys Deal.
Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 5:09 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, California-bred 3-Year-Olds
A big field of nine state-bred 3-year-olds lines up for this first-level allowance race at 6 ½ furlongs on the grass. A lot of them have a lot of speed, which means a fast early pace, and a winner coming from behind. We think that will be 3-Dylans Wild Cat, whose last four starts have been in state-bred stakes races. Most of his running has been on dirt, but he did run well in his lone effort on turf, he gets class relief here, and we think the early pace will flatter his stretch-running style. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $30 to win on 3-Dylans Wild Cat.
Pimlico, Race 10, 5:20 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Some races are hard to handicap, but this one is not: 6-Judi Blue Eyes has speed and pace figures that mark her as the likeliest winner by a significant margin. She comes off an excellent second at Parx last out, and has a pace-pressing style that will play better at Pimlico, which is generally a more speed-favoring surface than the one at Parx. Look for her to sit just behind the leaders early, and to win with a big move at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Pimlico, Race 10, $35 to win on 6-Judi Blue Eyes.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:30 pm ET
Grade 3 Bewitched Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
An even dozen older females goes in the Bewitched. We like 6-Kalifornia Queen, and we like her quite a bit. She did some good running in Europe last year, competing in stakes races in Germany and France, and while her North American debut, when she finished sixth in the Very One at Gulfstream Park in February, may look superficially bad, we think she had little chance there, as the turf course at Gulfstream favored speed all winter, and it played strongly against her stretch-running style. Chad Brown has won a few grass races in recent weeks with horses fitting this pattern and shipping out of South Florida, winning when they get a chance to compete on a fairer surface, and we think Kalifornia Queen will be another. She’s the bet of the day, so we will bet her to win, and will do so with gusto. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $50 to win on 6-Kalifornia Queen.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.