Garrity's Friday 11.19 Dad's Hat Happy Hour Horse Racing Picks: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Churchill Downs, Del Mar
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Garrity's Friday 11.19 Dad's Hat Happy Hour Horse Racing Picks: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Churchill Downs, Del Mar

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It’s Friday, so it’s time for another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. For this pre-Thanksgiving edition, we have five plays in five races, from one end of the country to the other, in a bit less than an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all five, so pour yourself about three fingers of one of the fine libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, settle into your favorite easy chair, and let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:43 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 3/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

This second-level allowance drew a field of nine. The pick is 5-L’Imperator, a French-bred from the Chad Brown barn who is looking to get back on the winning path after a couple of disappointing efforts in graded stakes races. We think the additional distance will help, as his recent races have been a bit shorter; we think the class relief, moving from stakes to allowance company, will help; and we also like the fact that the blinkers come off the 4-year-old gelding: Brown has a terrific 37% win rate with horses making this equipment change. Look for Imperator to sit toward the back early, and to be rolling late. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-L’Imperator.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 3:53 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Seven older females line up for this first-level allowance sprint on the Gulfstream Park main track. We like 3-Naughty Shirley, who has abundant speed, and whose race record shows a familiar pattern: when she gets a comfortable early lead, she wins; when she is pressured early, she fades. We think she is going to get the lead today, and will do so pretty easily, which should put her in the winner’s circle. We will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Naughty Shirley.

Churchill Downs, Race 6, 3:36 pm ET
$50,000 Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

A field of nine juvenile fillies goes in the 6th in South Florida. We like 5-Sol Dorado, a Mark Casse trainee who drops into claiming company for the first time in her brief career. The speed is drawn to her inside, so we see Sol Dorado getting a good stalking trip, sitting just off nthe early pace, and moving to the front at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 6, $35 to win on 5-Sol Dorado.

Churchill Downs, Race 7, 4:06 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

A dozen juvenile 2-year-old maidens lines up here. We like the looks of a first-time starter, and a big price: 9-Jeeper has posted a series of solid morning workouts since September, with a couple of fast ones in the past two weeks. We like his pedigree (he’s by Overanalyze, out of a Ghostzapper mare), and it looks like trainer Keith Desormeaux has him ready to fire in his first start. There’s only one thing to do when you fancy a colt at 15-1: go to the windows. We will bet Jeeper to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 7, $35 to win on 9-Jeeper.

Del Mar, Race 3, 4:30 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

This starter allowance drew a field of seven. We see a fast pace early, which should set the table for 2-Bright Leaf, a stretch-runner from the John Sadler barn. He broke his maiden in his last start, when he closed strongly to prevail by four lengths. We see a similar scenario for him today, and we like that apprentice jockey Emily Ellingwood, who rode him that day and who has impressed us as a young rider with real talent, returns to ride him in this spot. We will bet Bright Leaf to win at 6-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $35 to win on 2-Bright Leaf.

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

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