Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Belmont Park, Keeneland and Santa Anita
If it’s a Friday, it means that we are on the cusp of another weekend, and also that it is time for another edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. The big news on this particular October day is that it’s opening day of the boutique fall meet at Keeneland, which runs through the end of the month.
To commemorate the occasion, we have three plays there, plus one more from each coast, for a total of five plays in five races, all of which have cocktail-friendly, late-afternoon post times, and all of which take place in a span of about an hour’s time. So pour about three fingers of your favorite concoction from our friends at Dad’s Hat, settle into your most comfortable easy chair, and prepare for some good action, as it’s a better than normal slate for a Friday. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:42 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, New York-breds 3 & Up
The 8th at Belmont is a one-turn mile for first-level allowance state-bred runners. It drew a field of ten. We like a price, 7-It’s Gravy, who has been racing mostly in stakes races, going all the way back to last year, and while he hasn’t won since he broke his maiden in January, he was competitive against some pretty tough fields, and we think he will wake up, in a big way, at this lower level. He likes the distance, and we like his combination of decent early speed and a good closing kick. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 7-It’s Gravy.
Keeneland, Race 7, 4:30 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up
This is a third-level allowance (non-winners of three races, other than maiden or claiming). These races are normally very tough, and this one is no exception, with a deep group of twelve older horses going to the gate. We like 3-Kentucky Ghost, who was last seen running third in a stakes race at Kentucky Downs. The 4-year-old son of top stallion Ghostzapper seems to run the same race every time, and while his typical effort has not been good enough in the stakes races he has been running in, we think it will be good enough here. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Kentucky Ghost.
Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 5:05 pm ET
Starter Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
This starter allowance drew a field of ten. We like 10-Absolute Unit, who won a $32,000 claimer in his last, and was claimed out of that race by new trainer Mike Maker. He will have to overcome the outside post, which is no bargain, but he appears to have the tactical speed to work out a decent trip. We also like that he has run a series of very fast morning workouts since his last race; it is a sign to us that he’s sitting on a big race. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $35 to win on 10-Absolute Unit.
Keeneland, Race 8, 5:10 pm ET
Grade 2 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Seven line up for the Grade 2 Phoenix. The pick is 6-Special Reserve, who has run three excellent races in a row, including a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt at Saratoga on July 31. He is in excellent form, but what causes us to give him the nod is his running style: he is a pace-presser in a race that on paper figures to favor that. Look for him to stalk the leaders early, and to seize command when the field turns for home. We will bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Special Reserve.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:45 pm ET
Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, 2-Year-Old FIllies
Twelve line up for the Alcibiades. This is a major fall stakes race for 2-year-old fillies, and several of the ones running here will end up in the Breeders Cup Juvenile. We like 1-Juju’s Map, who broke her maiden at Ellis Park in her last start. We like the way she ran that day, of course -- she won by over five lengths -- but what we like more is that her maiden win was her first race around two turns, and she ran a better speed figure than she did in her prior start, which was a five-furlong sprint. That Juju’s Map improved in her first try at a longer distance, when so many young horses regress, shows that she is a talented filly, and that she figures to improve again here. And that means she has the ability to win a race of this magnitude. She also has ample early speed, which is always an asset on the main track at Keeneland. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Juju’s Map.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.