Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds
The weekend is nigh, so it’s time for another Friday installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. And it is one that will reflect the fact that we are in deep winter here in the United States, as cold and/or weather has forced the cancellation of the cards at both Aqueduct and Oaklawn, and rained all races off the turf at Gulfstream Park. We’ve managed to put together six plays, all in warmer climes and all of which go off in a bit more than an hour’s time. So put on an extra sweater, turn up the heat, pour yourselves one of the delicious concoctions from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, and settle into your favorite easy chair, as there’s money to be made on horses running in circles.
We expect fast and firm conditions in all of these races, except at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where both the dirt and turf courses were labeled good late this morning. With that out of the way, let’s go.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, 3:13 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
Nine 3-year-old maidens line up for the 7th in Tampa Bay. We like the looks of 5-Napoleonic War, a first-time starter from the Chad Brown barn. He has an excellent turf pedigree (he’s by top turf stallion War Front, out of a Galileo mare), and his morning workouts leading up to this start look very good, and are even more impressive considering that Chad Brown, unlike some other trainers, does not usually work his horses all that fast. Napoleonic War looks like a runner to us, and we expect to see him in stakes races, probably very soon, so we will jump on his bandwagon early, and bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Napoleonic War.
Santa Anita Park, Race 1, 3:30 pm ET
$50,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This maiden claimer, which drew a field of six, is a a 6 ½ furlong sprint on the sod. We like morning line choice 2-Aventapp, who has been consistent, if winless, in six career starts, all of which were on grass. She has been unsuccessful at shorter and longer distances, but we think the 6 ½ furlongs here will be right up her alley, and it doesn’t hurt that Aventapp will have to beat one of the weakest fields we’ve seen in quite some time. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 1, $40 to win on 1-Aventapp.
Gulfstream Park, Race 7, 3:37 pm ET
$12,500 Claiming, 1 ⅛ miles, Synthetic, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Seven older females line up for this claiming race on the Gulfstream Park lint. Since the horses who have run on a synthetic surface before do not exactly bowl us over with their form, we are taking a shot with 7-English Charmer, who has raced mostly on turf, with 9 of her 13 career starts on the sod, but whose class and overall form appear a cut above the rest of this group. She also has a closing running style that we think will transfer to the synthetic Tapeta surface at Gulfstream, which favors finishing kick over speed. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 7, $30 to win on 7-English Charmer.
Fair Grounds, Race 5, 4:05 pm ET
$10,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
This $10.000 claiming dirt sprint drew six hard-knocking fillies and mares. The pick is 7-Katie’s Karat, an admirably consistent 4-year-old who seems to run the same race every time, with her recent results – she’s run 5th in four consecutive starts – due to the tougher competition she has been facing of late. She makes a class drop today, and we think that she’s found a group she can handle, especially since she is a stretch runner, and a couple of her rivals today are faint-hearted speedballs who should set a fast early pace, setting the table for her late rally. We will bet Katie’s Karat to win at 4-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 5, $40 to win on 7-Katie’s Karat.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, 3:44 pm ET
$16,000 Maiden Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Thirteen fillies were entered in this maiden claiming dirt sprint, but Tampa Bay caps the field in a race like this at twelve. That meant one of them was on the outside looking in: it was 13-Blaze Away N Hide, who needed one of the others to scratch to be able to run.
Well, that is precisely what happened this morning, as a first-time starter was declared out, allowing Blaze Away N Hide to draw into the field. We think that is a fortuitous occurrence, because Blaze Away N Hide looks to be much the best, especially considering the fact that she has abundant speed, and her outside post is therefore a tactical advantage. She may win on on the front end, or she may stalk, but either way, she is headed to the winner’s circle. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 13-Blaze Away N Hide.
Fair Grounds, Race 6, 4:35 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Louisiana-breds 4 & Up
Eight state-breds are entered for this allowance race. We like 6-Jaci’s Royalty to rebound: This 5-year-old did a speed-and-fade in his last, setting the pace before tiring badly down the stretch, but that race was run on dirt after being rained off the turf. Back on grass today, a surface over which he has always been better, we think he is a major contender, which makes his 5-1 morning line number too good to pass up. Look for him to be mid-pack early, and moving late; we will bet him to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $35 to win on 6-Jaci’s Royalty.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, stay safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.