Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Belmont Park, Los Alamitos, Churchill Downs
It’s Friday, which means another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. Today marks the return, for us, of racing at beautiful Belmont Park, which opened yesterday. We have two plays there, two at Los Alamitos out West, and one at Churchill Downs. That’s five plays in five races, all of which go off in less than an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races; there’s money to be made, so let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 7, 4:12 pm ET
$100,000 Allied Forces Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
A field of eight lines up for the Allied Forces. We see a quick early pace, which should set the table quite nicely for 6-Big Everest, a stretch-running Christophe Clement trainee who cuts back to 6 furlongs after breaking his maiden in a mile race at Saratoga last out. We see him sitting toward the rear early, and blowing by the field down the lane. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Big Everest.
Los Alamitos, Race 2, 4:28 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Five maiden females line up for the 2nd at Los Alamitos. It looks easy: 2-Socially Smart has the best last-race speed figure; and while that number was earned in a 6 furlong race at Del Mar, both her pedigree and running style suggest that she will be even better at this mile distance. Sometimes it really is as simple as identifying the best horse, and betting her to win. We will play Socially Smart at 8/5. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 2, $40 to win on 2-Socially Smart.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET
$100,000 Christiecat Stakes, 6 furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Old FIllies
Seven go in the Christiecat. We like 9-Honey Pants, who just missed in her last, up at Woodbine in suburban Toronto, when she finished second, as the effectiveness of her stretch run was a bit muted due to a slow early pace. We expect faster fractions early, which should put her in the winner’s circle today. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Honey Pants.
Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
A pretty good field of allowance runners, ten of them, goes in the 9th at Churchill Downs. The pick is 3-Mr. Big News, a 4-year-old with a regal pedigree (he’s by Giant’s Causeway, out of a Galileo mare) who starts for trainer Bret Calhoun. He was a late bloomer, breaking his maiden in his January of last year, his first start as a 3-year-old; and then progressed rather nicely, running third in the 2020 Kentucky Derby, before a disastrous trip in the Preakness sent him to the sidelines for nearly a year (remember that the Derby and Preakness last year were run in September and October, respectively). He returned from his vacation at Colonial Downs last month, where the track came up sloppy, and he ran a dull fourth. We’re willing to excuse that last start, partly for being the first off a layoff, and partly for the wet conditions, which his past performances suggest that he does not like. But on the fast dirt he should get today, he looks ready to run big, especially at this 10 furlong distance. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Mr. Big News.
Los Alamitos, Race 3, 4:58 pm ET
$16,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A field of five female claimers lines up here. The pick is 2-Island Life, a modestly-bred 3-year-old filly who was claimed two back by trainer Rafael DeLeon. She did a speed-and-fade in her last, in a race ten days ago at Del Mar, but that field was much, much tougher than the one she faces here. She has very good early speed, which should get her a comfortable early lead, and make her very tough for any of the other runners, none of whom will remind anyone of Zenyatta, to catch her. We think Island Life wires this group, and will consequently bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 3, $40 to win on 2-Island Life.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.