Garrity's 12.3 Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Picks
If it’s Friday, it must be time for another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. This is a good one, as it is opening day at two major tracks that will carry us through the upcoming dark months: Both Gulfstream Park in South Florida and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas kick off their marathon winter meetings this afternoon. We have five plays today, from four tracks, all of which happen in just over a half hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the fine, hand-crafted concoctions from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.
Aqueduct, Race 10, 4;13 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Turf, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A full field of ten state-bred females line up for this turf sprint. We like morning line choice 3-She’s the One. She’s a 3-year-old filly with only three career starts, but they have all been good, a win and two seconds, and we expect another strong effort here. Look for her to be mid-pack, behind what should be a rapid early pace, to get closer to the front around the turn, and win with a big move when the field straightens for home. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 10, $40 to win on 3-She’s the One.
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 4:19 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
One of the things that distinguishes Oaklawn Park’s long winter-spring meeting is the quality of the maiden races, and this one is a good example, as nine promising-looking 2-year-old fillies line up to sprint 6 furlongs. We like the looks of a first-time starter, 8-Little Mombo, who has a good pedigree (she’s by top stallion Into Mischief, out of a Dynaformer mare), and who trainer Phil Bauer appears to have ready to run at first asking. She is 10-1 on the morning line, but will likely be lower at post time; we will bet her to win anyway. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $35 to win on 8-Little Mombo.
Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 4:32 pm ET
$75,000 Pulpit Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds
We are just a few weeks from the winter solstice, and horses are back running at what they call the “Championship” Meet at Gulfstream Park, and we are expecting a continuation of a trend that was very pronounced last winter, which is speed playing very, very well on the turf. That makes the pick, among the dozen entrants in the Pulpit Stakes, 5-Red Danger, who will probably not get the lead, but who should be close, sitting just behind a couple of no-hope speedballs, ready to pounce when the field turns for home. We will bet Red Danger to win at 5/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $35 to win on 5-Red Danger.
Fair Grounds, Race 6, 4:35 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Louisiana-breds 3 & Up
A field of ten state-breds lines up for this allowance/optional claimer in New Orleans. We like 4-Swot Analysis, a Mark Casse runner who comes off two good efforts this fall at Woodbine in Toronto. Those races were on a synthetic racing surface, and this is on grass, a surface Swot Analysis has not tried yet, but it looks to us like he has both the pedigree and the running style to handle turf just fine. One thing that will certainly help him in his turf debut is that the rest of the field looks very weak. We will bet Swot Analysis to win at 4-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $35 to win on 4-Swot Analysis.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 4:46 pm ET
$150,000 Advent Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds
The Advent Stakes is the opening day feature at Oaklawn, and it’s a good one, with a deep and talented field of ten. We like the looks of the colt on the outside, 10-Higher Standard, who broke his maiden in his last start, the first of his career, when he ran a pretty good field of Churchill Downs maidens off their feet, winning by nearly six lengths in very fast time. He has speed, but we expect him to take the prize here with a pace-pressing trip from his outside post. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 10-Higher Standard.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.