Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks Monmouth Park, Churchill Downs, Belmont, Los Alamitos
It’s time for another Friday edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, and it is a good one: in the United States, it is the start of the Independence Day weekend, and for our friends in the Great White North, it is Canada Day. We hope that everyone everywhere can enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate.
Here in the land of the railbirds, holidays mean horse racing, and we have plays in five races today, from one end of the continent to the other. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the delicious libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.
Monmouth Park, Race 6, 4:20 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
A good group of seven lines up for this allowance race at the Jersey Shore. We like 2-Bank on Shea, who tries to rebound after a disappointing effort in a minor stakes race at Belmont Park on April 29. We think he will get a perfect trip in this spot, sitting behind a couple of dueling speedsters early, and taking over down the stretch when the pacesetters begin to tire. By post time, Bank on Shea will likely be a shorter price than his 3-1 morning line number; we will bet him to win anyway. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 6, $40 to win on 2-Bank on Shea.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Eight go in the 8th at Churchill Downs. We like the one on the inside, 1-Hot and Sultry, who comes off a very good maiden win at Oaklawn Park. That race was five months ago, and while some handicappers may view the layoff as a negative, we view it differently, as he is a 3-year-old colt who figures to have matured physically a lot since January. That means the rest of the field is in trouble; it also means we are headed to the windows. On a hot and sultry July 1, we will bet Hot and Sultry to win at 2-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Hot and Sultry.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 ¼ miles, Turf, 3 & Up
A field of nine lines up for this tough second-level allowance in New York. At this level, one typically sees horses coming from two different directions: ascending after wins at a lower level, or descending after less-than-stellar efforts in stakes races. We typically favor the former, but in this case, we are going to make an exception, in the form of 2-Tiberius Mercurius, who starts here off a last-place finish in the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland on April 23. He battled for the lead that day, poking his nose in front at the top of the stretch before fading to finish a well-beaten eighth. We like the class relief he gets here, but what we like even more is that he appears to be lone speed in a field filled with horses who habitually start very slowly. We think Tiberius Mercurius will get a very loose, very easy lead – and that after he gallops the first mile in about 1:16, the rest of the field is not going to be able to catch him. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-Tiberius Mercurius.
Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Eleven 3-year-old fillies drew into this first-level allowance. Several of them are coming off maiden wins, and the pick is the one whose last-out victory was the best: it is 8-Olga Isabel, who bested eleven other fillies in joining the ranks of winners. Her figures for that effort, both pace and speed, were excellent, and if she started for a high-profile trainer, she’d be a pretty short price, but because she starts for Gustavo Delgado, who is quite good but who does not get the attention of the Steve Asmussens and Todd Pletchers of the world, she is 7/2 on the morning line, which we think is more than fair. She has a potent combination of speed and stamina, and she gets an outside post here, which is an advantage in mile races at Churchill, which are run around one turn. Look for her to stalk the early pace and to win with a strong stretch move. We will bet Olga Isabel to win. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $35 to win on 8-Olga Isabel.
Los Alamitos, Race 1, 5:00 pm ET
Starter Allowance, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Some races are difficult to handicap; this one looks easy: if 3-Nolongerahobby can stay on all four hooves, he should demolish this very weak group. At 2-1 on the morning line, and likely to be bet to a lower number by post time, he will not make anyone rich, but he will be a reminder of one of our fundamental handicapping principles, that there is value in every winner. We will bet Nolongerahobby to win. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 1, $50 to win on 3-Nolongerahobby.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.