Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks Churchill Downs, Belmont, Santa Anita, Monmouth
Racing at Belmont Park.NYRA / Joe Labozzetta

Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks Churchill Downs, Belmont, Santa Anita, Monmouth

First post 4:22 pm EDT. Last post 5:16 pm. Let it Rye-d.

A mixed bag of racing makes up today’s installment of our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have five plays in five races, from Kentucky to New York to New Jersey to California. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all of them, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the fine, hand-crafted libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, settle into your favorite easy chair, and let’s go.

Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET

Allowance, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Seven fillies and two mares line up for the 8th at Churchill Downs. We like the one all the way on the outside, 9-Artemus, who has been away for a long time, having last raced way back in October of 2020, when she was a 2-year-old, but who showed a lot of talent, and a lot of speed, back then. Something obviously went wrong with her physically for her to have gone away for such a long stretch, but her recent works suggest that she is all the way back, and that, combined with her outside post and trainer Saffie Joseph’s skill at getting horses to fire off the bench (25% win rate with horses laid off six months or longer) makes her the play. We think Artemus goes right to the front, and doesn’t look back; we will bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Artemus.

Santa Anita, Race 2, 4:30 pm ET

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

This starter allowance in California drew a field of seven. We like 6-Loma Vista, who finished fourth in a similar spot in her last, and while on the surface that effort looks weak, we think it was better than that, as she got stuck behind a slow pace that muted her strong finishing kick and made her run look worse than it really was. We see her come-from-behind running playing much better in this spot, as we expect the pace of this race to be fast, which should play right into jockey Drayden Van Dyke’s hands. She will not be first early, but we think she will be first where it matters, and will consequently bet her to win at 6-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 2, $35 to win on 6-Loma Vista.

Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET\

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

Five go in this tough third-level allowance dirt sprint in New York. The pick is 2-Three Two Zone, a 4-year-old who has two important things going for him: He’s in excellent form, as his last race was far better than the last race run by any of his rivals; and he has a stalking/closing running style that should play perfectly in a race that figures to have a swift early pace, and pacesetters gasping for air late. Look for Three Two Zone to sit comfortably early, and to prevail with a strong stretch run; we will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-Three Two Zone.

Santa Anita, Race 3, 5:00 pm ET

$75,000 Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

Six high-end claimers line up for this turf sprint. We can’t get past favored 4-Shut Up Michael, who won in a similar spot a month ago. He’s got the best recent form, he’s got a good trainer in Phil D’Amato, and he is the strongest finisher in the field – add it up, and we are going to the windows. We will bet him to win at 8/5. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $50 to win on 4-Shut Up Michael.

Monmouth Park, Race 8, 5:16 pm ET

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

This allowance at the Jersey shore drew a field of nine, which makes it a good betting race. We are eschewing favored 4-Olympic Romp, whose recent form is good, but who missed in similar spots in each of his last two starts, at Delaware Park and Aqueduct, respectively, and who figures to be overbet (he’s 3/2 on the morning line, and could be even shorter at post time). We instead like 2-Exuma, an Irish-bred 4-year-old with a sensational pedigree (he’s by the late Galileo, one of the premier turf stallions of the last 30 years), and who figures to improve off a pretty lousy effort in last race, which was at Gulfstream Park on April 23. He broke slowly that day, and while that is never a good thing, it is death at Gulfstream, where it is almost impossible for horses to win coming from far off the pace. That was his first start in North America; we think he runs much, much better today, which makes his 4-1 price too good to pass up. We will bet him to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-Exuma.

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

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