Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping features races from Keeneland, Aqueduct and Oaklawn
If it’s Friday, it’s time for another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, our very own pari-mutuel version of speed dating, when we play a bunch of races that go off in rapid succession. This afternoon we have five races on the docket, in New York, Kentucky and Arkansas, and we expect fine weather, fast dirt, and firm turf in all of them. Pour yourself a glass of one of the delicious, hand-crafted libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, settle into you luckiest easy chair, and let’s go.
Keeneland, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET
Allowance, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
Eleven older horses line up for this second-level allowance. The fact that there isn’t a standout in the group makes it a real handicapper’s race. We like 8-English Conqueror, who has run at various distances and on various surfaces, but who returns here to what he probably does best, which is running a mile and a half on turf. This is a horse who was good enough to run fourth last year in a Grade 1 race at Woodbine; that kind of effort should be good enough to take this. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-English Conqueror.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 5:01 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
This first-level allowance drew a field of seven. The hot favorite is 1-Pipeline, who showed enough promise as a 3-year-old last year that trainer Chad Brown ran him in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in December. That race was an unmitigated disaster, as Pipeline had a wide trip early, and faded badly late to finish last. He has been away since, and while a return to the form he showed prior to the Cigar Mile makes him a major contender here, he’s no cinch, and at a minuscule price – he’s 3/5 on the morning line, and likely to be even shorter when the gates open – we think he’s a big underlay, and a bet-against.
We like another horse looking to make a rebound: it’s 4-Jerry the Nipper, who was on quite a roll in the fall of 2020, but something evidently went wrong with him physically fifteen months ago, as went away for over a year. He returned to racing on March 27, when he lost as the favorite in a similar spot at the Big A, and while one could look at that as a disappointing effort, we think it was actually quite good, as he contested a very fast pace early, and only begrudgingly gave way late. Jerry the Nipper has a massive pace advantage here – he is going to get the lead, and he is going to do so quite easily – and we think that he is going to prevail here in front-running fashion, and do so at relatively generous 4-1 odds. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Jerry the Nipper.
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 5:04 pm ET
$20,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
A dozen go in this maiden claimer. The pick is 8-Malintent, who was last seen doing a speed-and-fade at the much tougher Maiden Special Weight level. We like that he showed enough early zip to be a contender in that race, and we think that will serve him very well here, as he should get the early lead quite easily against this much weaker group, and we think he is not going to get caught. We think that Malintent takes this in wire-to-wire fashion, and will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $35 to win on 8-Malintent.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:39 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Arkansas-breds 3 & Up
A field of nine state-breds lines up for this allowance race. We like 7-Bellamys Roan, whose last two starts were in sprints, but who stretches out here to a mile and a sixteenth. He has done well at this distance in the past, and we think the race sets up quite nicely for him, as he will be on or near the lead through what should be moderate early fractions. We will bet Bellamys Roan to win. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 7-Bellamys Roan.
Keeneland, Race 10, 5:45 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A full field of twelve females lines up for the nightcap at Keeneland. We’re all in on 7-Musical Design, a 3-year-old filly who has just one career start, but it was a good one, when she rallied strongly to finish second, just a nose behind the winner, in a maiden race at Gulfstream Park on March 16. The ability to finish strongly is a good thing in any turf race, but that Musical Design did so on the sod at Gulfstream, which generally favors speed, is a sign that she should improve here. She’s the one to beat, and we will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 10, $40 to win on 7-Musical Design.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.