Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Saratoga, Ellis Park, Gulfstream Park, Woodbine
Maven, on the inside, racing back in 2019. NYRA / Chelsea Durand

Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Saratoga, Ellis Park, Gulfstream Park, Woodbine

First post is at 5:05 pm EDT. Last post at 5:39 pm. Let it rye-d.

It’s not just a Friday, it’s one of the best Fridays of the year, as it’s the gateway to the three-day Labor Day weekend. We are ready to prime the holiday pump, as it were, with another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have plays in five races at four tracks, all of which go off in a cocktail-friendly, late afternoon span of just 40 minutes. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all races, so pour yourself a glass of your favorite hand-crafted concoction from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, settle into your favorite easy chair, and let’s go.

Saratoga, Race 8, 5:05 pm ET

Allowance, 7 furlongs, Dirt, New York-breds 3 & Up

A field of nine state-breds lines up for the 8th at Saratoga. We like the colt on the rail, 1-Gold Panda, who comes off a sharp maiden win at the Spa on August 19. We like his early speed, which should allow jockey Joel Rosario to control the pace, and we also like the fact that his sharp trainer, Charlton Baker, runs him back in just fifteen days -- this kind of turnaround is pretty rare these days, but we think it’s a positive sign, an indicaiton that Gold Panda is sitting on a big race. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Gold Panda.

Ellis Park, Race 10, 5:10 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

This maiden affair in Henderson, Kentucky drew a field of eleven. The ones who have raced before have not done anything to set our heart aflutter, so we are going with a first-time stater, 1-Monition, who has a decent turf pedigree, a good trainer in Cherie DeVaux, the leading rider at Ellis Park in Brian Hernandez, and an inside draw that should foster a good trip. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 1-Monition.

Gulfstream Park, Race 7, 5:16 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

A dozen maiden fillies will go to the gate in today’s 7th at Gulfstream Park, but we have eyes for just one: 8-Muted, who is by Into Mischief, the top stallion in North America, and one who is known for producing 2-year-old winners. She has looked like a runner in the morning, posting some sizzling workouts for trainer Tom Proctor, and should be able to handle this modest group. She is 9/2 on the morning line, but will be shorter at post time; we will bet her anyway. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 8-Muted.

Woodbine, Race 2, 5:19 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, Turf, FIllies & Mares 3 & Up

This second-level allowance drew a tough field of eleven. The pick is 9-Livin in the Six, who has never run a bad race in six career races, but who has been clearly better on grass, with one win and one runner-up finish in two career tries, than on synthetic (one second in four starts). He burned some money in his last start, finishing second as the odds-on favorite, but we think he will not miss today. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 2, $30 to win on 9-Livin in the Six.

Saratoga, Race 9, 5:39 pm ET
$120,000 Gold Coin Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up

The Gold Coin drew a field of eight. We like 8-Maven, a Wesley Ward trainee who was last seen getting trounced in a Group 1 race at the Royal ascot meeting in June. We are fairly certain of two things in this race: Maven will run better today than he did in England; and he will be a shorter price than his 5/2 morning line number. We will bet him to win anyway, as he appears to tower over this field in terms of class. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 8-Maven.

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

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