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Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Belmont, Monmouth, Churchill Downs

First post is 4:40 pm EDT. Last post is 5:15 pm. Five races in 35 minutes. Let it Rye-d!

It seems like June started a few days ago, but we are almost to July: we’re just a week away from both the start of the next month, and the beginning of the Independence Day holiday weekend, one of the biggest of the year, both in the nation and in the Sport of Kings. With the solstice having come and gone just a few days ago, we will celebrate the beginning of astronomical summer with another Friday installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. Today we have plays in five races, in New York, New Jersey, and Kentucky, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them. So pour yourself a tumbler of one of the savory Pennsylvania-bred ryes from our friends at Dad’s Hat, make yourself comfortable, and let’s go.

Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET

Allowance, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, New York-breds 3 & Up

A field of eleven state-breds lines up for this turf allowance at Belmont Park. It’s a pretty good group and a very good betting race. We like 4-Front Line Dancer, a lightly-raced 3-year-old gelding from the Todd Pletcher barn, who showed a powerful late kick winning a maiden race last out. We see a similar setup, and a similar result, today: look for him to be mid-pack early, and rolling late. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 4-Front Line Dancer.

Monmouth Park, Race 7, 4:48 pm ET

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

This tough second-level allowance on the Jersey shore drew a field of eight older turf females. The pick is 8-Bella Belisa, an Irish-bred filly who comes off an excellent win at Laurel Park in her last start. She is trained by Michael Dickinson, who is as skilled as any trainer on the planet at finding good spots for his horses, and this is another example, we think, as Bella Belisa looks to be much the best of this group. Look for Bella Belisa to win with a big move around the far turn and into the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 8-Bella Belisa.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET

$20,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up

These are bottom-level claimers at Churchill Downs, and assessing them is primarily a case of identifying, and throwing out, the inveterate losers, of which there are quite a few in this field of nine. 6-Cabana Time may end up a career maiden, but he’s not there yet, and there is consequently enough to like him here: he has a nice pedigree, and is a good enough physical specimen that he sold for $100,000 as a yearling. He also has been racing on the synthetic course at Turfway Park, which is seemingly a surface he does not like, and has been racing against tougher competition as well. We think the chances are quite good that he wakes up in this spot, and at 6-1, that makes him a good play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $35 to win on 6-Cabana Time.

Belmont Park, Race 9, 5:12 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 7 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up

A dozen maidens go in the nightcap in New York. We like the looks of 4-Pharoah’s Jewel, who has run twice, and run pretty well each time, especially considering that he did not face optimum conditions in either race: in his career debut, he ran on the speed-favoring turf at Gulfstream Park, which played against his closing running style; and in his last, rain washed the race off the grass, and onto the Gulfstream synthetic course, a surface for which he is not particularly suited. We think Pharoah’s Jewel will find the Belmont sod, and this 7 furlong distance, much more to his liking, and see him taking a big step forward, which makes him a major win contender, and at 12-1, an excellent wager. We will bet him to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 4-Pharoah’s Jewel.

Monmouth Park, Race 8, 5:15 pm ET

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

Eight go in the Monmouth Park nightcap. The pick is 8-Celtic Treasure, who comes off a so-so effort in a turf affair at Delaware Park, a race that had to be a prep for a spot like this, as he’s never shown any ability on grass. Returning to conventional dirt, a surface hen has always favored, we think he runs very big today, which makes his 4-1 morning line number too good to pass up. We will bet him to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Celtic Treasure.

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

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