Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Horse Racing has Garrity picks at Churchill Downs, Belmont, Monmouth, Santa Anita
If it’s Friday, it must be time for another edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. On this beautiful early summer day, we have four plays at four tracks in about forty minutes’ time, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all four of them. Let’s go.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
This is a third-level (non-winners of three other than) allowance, which is a tough condition, and it has a $106,000 purse, which is more than stakes races at many other tracks. So it is not surprising that it drew a stakes-worthy field: it’s a salty group of eleven older horses.
We like 10-King Abner. He’s a veteran at this point, a 7-year-old gelding with 28 career starts, but he’s been in good form of late, especially in his last start, when he earned big speed and pace figures winning a starter allowance race out West at Santa Anita. He starts today for new conditioner Chris Hartman, who is red hot, and he looks poised for a big effort. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $35 to win on 10-King Abner.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Turf, New York-breds 3 & Up
A nice field of ten lines up for this first-level allowance turf sprint. The pick is 1-Scuttlebuzz, a 4-year-old gelding claimed by trainer Rudy Rodriguez two starts back. He just missed last time, at this state-bred allowance level, but he had a tough trip, going wide throughout, and this field is also significantly less imposing than the field he faced last time. He also fits as the lone stretch runner among a group of speed-and-fade types. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Scuttlebuzz.
Monmouth Park, Race 1, 5:00 pm ET
Maiden Speical Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A field of six fairly nondescript maidens lines up for the opener at the Jersey shore, and we quite like a first-time starter, 3-Judgement Time, whose recent morning works have been sensational. She’s modestly-bred, is owned and trained by Glenn Thompson, who starts few horses, but who is quite competent. This is a case of a trainer’s low profile being an asset at the windows: if Judgement Time were trained by a name trainer, she’d be something like 3-1, but instead, we get 15-1. We will take that all day long, and will bet her to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 1, $40 to win on 3-Judgement Time.
Santa Anita, Race 2, 5:00 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Turf, California-breds 3 & Up
A big field of twelve Cal-bred maidens goes in the 2nd at Santa Anita. Partly because of the size of the field, and partly because of the makeup of the colts and geldings who comprise it, we see a pace meltdown here, with sizzling early fractions, and a winner coming from far back. We’re going to take a stab and wager that it will be longshot 2-Harbor Sky, who made up significant ground in his lone career start. He completely blew the break in his last, and he will need to do better today, but if a horse is going to win this race by coming from the clouds, it could very well be him, and he’s a positively juicy 30-1 on the morning line. We will bet him primarily to win, with a small “insanity insurance” saver bet to place, in case his late rally comes up just short. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 2, $25 to win/$5 to place on 2-Harbor Sky.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.