Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Belmont and Keeneland
If it’s Friday, it must mean it’s time for another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have four plays today, in four races that go off a bit more than an hour’s time, all with cocktail friendly, late-afternoon post times. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the fine, hand-crafted concoctions from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, pour yourself into your favorite easy chair, and let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 7, 3:49 pm ET
$100,000 Glen Cove Stakes, 7 furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
A dozen sophomore fillies line up for the Glen Cove, making it an interesting race, and a good betting contest. We like 8-Spirit of Bermuda, an Irish-bred who has raced primarily in Great Britain, making her U.S. debut in the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 19, setting the pace early before tiring and finishing sixth. We find it intriguing that trainer William Haggas has decided to give her another crack at a race in New York, rather than shuttling her back to her base in England, and we interpret that as a positive sign, that Haggas liked what he saw in the Pebbles. Haggas is an extremely shrewd judge of horseflesh, and his decision to run in this spot makes us think she’s live here, and that she’s live at positively juicy 10-1 odds. That’s enough for us; we will bet her to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 8-Spirit of Bermuda.
Keeneland, Race 7, 4:12 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This third-level allowance drew a deep and evenly matched field of eleven. The pick is 9-Joy Epifora, who has two things going for her: she’s a stretch-runner in a race whose pace figures to favor that style; and she gets class relief in this spot, as her last two races were in graded stakes, where she didn’t win, but she was competitive. She ran fourth last out, in fact, in the Grade 1 Beverly D at Arlington Park, behind Santa Barbara, who is the best 3-year-old turf filly we’ve seen this year. Suffice it to say none of the horses in this field will remind anybody of Santa Barbara; we will bet Joy Epifora to win at 8-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 9-Joy Epifora.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET
Allowance, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
The two most dangerous words in dirt racing are “lone speed,” and they are even more dangerous at Keeneland, where the main track has been favoring speed pretty significantly since the meet opened a week ago. That makes the pick in this first-level allowance easy: we’re going with favored 5-Silver Strand, who showed a lot of speed in his debut, when she won a maiden race in the slop at Saratoga on Aug. 19. In this spot, she should be able to use her speed to control this race on the front end, and we also like that her maiden win was a key race, as the second- and third-place finishers have already come back to win. Add it up, and we are going to the windows: we will bet Silver Strand to win at 7/5. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $50 to win on 5-Silver Strand.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:16 pm ET
Grade 3 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A dozen line up for this Grade 3 turf sprint. Eleven of them are older horses, but we like the lone 3-year-old, 4-Campanelle, who has been running against incredibly difficult fields in Group 1 races at the Royal Ascot and Deauville in northern France. Campanelle is winless in two starts this year for trainer Wesley Ward, but that does not bother us: We think she absolutely outclasses this field. Being competitive in a couple of Europe’s premier turf races will translate to a Grade 3 at Keeneland quite nicely, we think, and so will returning to firm turf, rather than the very soft going she got on the Continent. We will bet Campanelle to win at 7/2, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $50 to win on 4-Campanelle.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, enjoy the racing.