Garrity's 12.31 Dad's Hat Happy Hour Racing Picks for Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn

Sea Foam, winning the Albany at Saratoga back in August 2018.

NYRA / Chelsea Durand

Garrity's 12.31 Dad's Hat Happy Hour Racing Picks for Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn

First post 3:36 pm EST. Last post 4:46 pm. Let it rye-d.

This Friday, we’re excited about a special New Year’s Eve edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have five plays at five tracks, from one end of this great country to another, in just over an hour’s time. So before we ring in the new year, let’s try to ring the bell of the cash register, and do so in a quite agreeable way, watching horses run in circles, with one of the delicious, hand-crafted concoctions from Dad’s Hat close at hand. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below, so let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 3:36 pm ET

$100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, New York-breds 3 & Up

They raced in the slop yesterday at the Big A, and though the forecast for Friday is mostly dry, we’re expecting another off track for the Robb, as fog, combined with the lack of sunlight A few days after the solstice, is going to make it difficult for the track to dry out completely. The seven state-breds who line up to go nine furlongs should be running over a track that is somewhere in the neighborhood of muddy.

And that makes the pick 4-Sea Foam, who comes off a slight layoff, having last raced at Belmont Park on Oct. 30, but whose form before that was quite good. He has run faster than most of the other runners, he has done so consistently, he has run very well over wet going, and we see him using his speed, which he has in abundance, to dominate this race from start to finish. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Sea Foam.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:07 pm ET

$100,000 Abundantia Stakes, 5 furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

The Abundantia has eleven females lining up to sprint five furlongs on the Gulfstream Park turf course. We like a filly at a price, 6-Drapes, who makes her first start since August, when she ran in a stakes at Colonial Downs, setting the pace before being tiring late and finishing seventh. That race was at a mile and a sixteenth, and we like that she is cutting back to sprinting here; we also like that she has won coming off the bench before (she broke her maiden in April after a layoff of nearly six months), and we also like that her recent morning workouts suggest that she is fit, sound, and ready to run. We think she has a real chance at an upset, and that makes her 12-1 morning line price too good to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $30 to win on 6-Drapes.

Santa Anita Park, Race 2, 4:30 pm ET

Starter Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

Southern California has had copious amounts of badly-needed rain the last few days, and while the condition of the Santa Anita main track has not yet been posted as we write this, the forecast for this afternoon is sunny, so we think that the track will be fast, or close to it, by the time the gates open for this starter allowance race, which drew six entrants. We like 3-Fowler Blue, who broke his maiden two back, doing so impressively enough that trainer Luis Mendes entered him in a stakes next out, where he ran a passable fourth. That was a better effort than it may look on paper, especially since it was his first start around two turns. This field is much, much less imposing than the one he faced last time, and with Fowler Blue having proved that he can run effectively at this mile distance, we think he wins this. Look for him to sit just off the leaders early, go to the front with a big move around the far turn, and hold off the closers late; we will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 2, $40 to win on 3-Fowler Blue.

Fair Grounds, Race 6, 4:35 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Seven go in this allowance in the Big Easy. The pick 3-Vividly. She did some good work in New York this past summer, running well in allowance company in New York, and there are two things about her that make us think she is the one here: the first is that we expect the race shape to play to her strengths, as she’s a stretch-runner in a race whose pace looks fast; the other is that she was claimed out of her last start by trainer Tom Amoss, who is exceptionally shrewd at claiming horses and getting them to improve. Look for her to be well back early, and flying late; we will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $35 to win on 3-Vividly.

Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 4:46 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

This allowance for 2-year-old fillies drew a field of nine. We like 4-Matareya, a Godolphin homebred who won her career debut at Ellis Park in August, and then was thrown into the deep end of the pool, running in the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in October, next out. She did not win that day, but she did run pretty well, finishing a decent fifth after a wide trip. She looks to us like a filly who still has a bright future, and trainer Brad Cox seems to have placed her in this spot to build her confidence with a win. We think that strategy will be successful, and will bet Matareya to win at 5/2. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Matareya.

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

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