Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Horse Racing plus the Runhappy Oceanside Stakes from Del Mar
We’ve reached the heart of the summer season, which means racing at Saratoga in Upstate New York, and Del Mar in Southern California. That makes it an auspicious day for another Friday installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: in just a half hour’s time, we have five plays from Saratoga, Del Mar, and Ellis Park in Kentucky. And because we like extending happy hour as long as possible, especially at this fine time of year, we’re playing a sixth race, the featured Oceanside Stakes from Del Mar, which will be run a little bit later this evening.
We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all six races, so get comfortable, pour yourself a glass of one of the fine hand-crafted libations from our friends at Dad Hat, and let’s go.
Del Mar, Race 1, 5 pm ET
$16,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
The first race on opening day at Del Mar is a great spectacle: it is always run around two turns, and on dirt, so the gates can open directly in front of what should be a very large crowd. The reaction of the crowd, a raucous cheer when the gates open, is one of the great traditions of summer racing.
This field of eight has a lot of speed, and the speed is pretty evenly matched, which means, we think, that the early pace will be fast, and the winner will be coming from behind. We are going to try to start the Del Mar meeting with a bang, in the form of 8-Golden Dragon, a 6-year-old gelding who has been running mostly on the Kentucky circuit, but who should get an ideal setup here, with a fast early pace setting up his late charge. We will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 1, $35 to win on 8-Golden Dragon.
Saratoga, Race 8, 5:05 pm ET
$40,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
The 8th at the Spa drew a field of eight. The pick is 8-Patty H, who has superior figures, high speed, and a tactically advantageous outside post position. She can win on the lead or she can win from just off it; we are guessing that she will stalk here, but that versatility will allow her to seize the early lead if none of the fillies inside her want it. We will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $35 to win on 8-Patty H.
Ellis Park, Race 8, 5:10 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Old Fillies
A field of nine juvenile fillies goes to the post in the 8th at Ellis Park. We like the looks of a first-time starter, 6-Turner Loose, who goes for the powerful Brad Cox stable. She is by Nyquist, out of an A.P. Indy mare, which is a pretty nice turf pedigree, and her morning workout line suggests that she has some ability. Key stat: at the current Ellis Park meeting, Cox has 7 winners, and 9 in-the-money finishes, from just 14 starts. We will bet Turner Loose to win. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 8, $30 to win on 6-Turner Loose.
Del Mar, Race 2, 5:30 pm ET
$150,000 Maiden Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
Ten juveniles line up for the 2nd from Del Mar. The pick is 4-Midnight Mammoth, who has shown plenty of speed during morning drills, and who has a pedigree (by Midnight Lute, out of a Vindication mare) that we think is sneaky good. Look for him to win with a forwardly-placed trip, either on or just off the early lead. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 2, $35 to win on 4-Midnight Mammoth.
Saratoga, Race 9, 5:30 pm ET
Grade 3 Forbidden Apple Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up
The 2021 renewal of the Forbidden Apple came up strong: it’s a pretty solid group for a Grade 3 race. Evidence of that is the presence of 9-Sacred Life, a Chad Brown trainee who has been running against tougher, with his last three starts, going back to last fall, in Grade 1 and Grade 2 stakes. He did not win any of them, but we think that was more a function of the saltier horses in those races than an indictment of his ability. We see the kind of race he has been running as being good enough to beat this group, and that makes him the pick. Look for him to be toward the rear early, and to be moving late. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 9-Sacred Life.
Del Mar, Race 9, 9:00 pm ET
$100,000 Runhappy Oceanside Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The Oceanside is the traditional Del Mar opening day feature, and with short fields plaguing Southern California racing of late, it’s good to see that it drew a full field of fourteen. It’s also a terrific betting race, the most wide-open affair of the day. We like 6-Dream Shake, who has raced exclusively on dirt, but who showed a high level of ability in his five career starts, so much ability, in fact, that trainer Peter Eurton put him on the Kentucky Derby trail. He did not make it to Churchill Downs, but he is a colt who still appears to have quite a bit of upside, and he has a pedigree that has us thinking that he will actually be better on turf than he was on dirt. If that’s the case, he will blow away this field. At 4-1, that’s a bet we like; we will play Dream Shake to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $50 to win on 6-Dream Shake.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.