Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Ellis Park, Monmouth, Saratoga – 2 stakes
It’s Friday, so it’s time for another ready-for-the-weekend installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, our gambling version of speed dating, when we play a number of races in a short period of time. Today we have five plays from three tracks, in New York, New Jersey, and Kentucky, that go off in just under an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so pour yourself a glass of one of the delicious libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, settle into your luckiest easy chair, and let’s go.
Ellis Park, Race 7, 4:40 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
This first-level allowance for sophomore colts drew a full field of twelve. The pick is 5-Verstappen, who has an excellent pedigree for the sod, and who seems like a late-blooming sort, the kind of 3-year-old whose best races are in front of him. We like his last race, when he tried to close into a slow pace in a very tough allowance at Keeneland to finish a close fifth, and think that the way Verstappen ran that day is a sign that he will improve here, which means the rest of the field is running for second money. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Verstappen.
Monmouth, Race 7, 4:45 pm ET
$12,500 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Eight filly and mare claimers go in the 7th at Monmouth Park. Seven of them have been running at the Jersey Shore, but we fancy a fresh face: It’s 2-Love’s Misery, who has been running in tougher races at Belmont Park. Trainer Rob Atras seems to have made a shrewd move by shipping Love’s Misery across the Hudson River, as her class edge, plus a pace edge – she should get an easy early lead – should add up to a front-running victory. We will bet Love’s Misery to win at 5/2. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Love’s Misery.
Saratoga, Race 8, 5:05 pm ET
Grade 2 National Museum Hall of Fame Stakes, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The Hall of Fame is today’s featured race at Saratoga, and it’s a cracking good one, with a deep field of nine. The choice is 6-Ready to Purrform, whose closing running style should be an asset, as the early pace should be somewhere between legitimate and fast. He just missed in his last two starts; we think Ready to Purrform will not miss today, and will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Ready to Purrform.
Ellis Park, Race 8, 5:10 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
Eleven maidens line up for the nightcap at Ellis Park. We like a first-time starter, 7-Laytown, a Godolphin homebred with a terrific pedigree: He’s by top stallion Nyquist, out of an A.P. Indy mare, and while his morning workouts have not been particularly brilliant, there have been enough of them, spaced at regular intervals, to provide the foundation he will need to win at first asking. We will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 7-Laytown.
Saratoga, Race 9, 5:39 pm ET
Grade 3 Troy Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
The Troy, a 5 ½ furlong turf sprint, drew a field of seven. Favored 5-Golden Pal will win if he runs his race – when he’s on, he is very good – but that he runs his race is no guarantee, as he’s run just once since April, when he traveled across the pond to be trounced in the Group 1 Golden Stand at the Royal Ascot meeting in June. He’s 1/2 on the morning line, and likely to be shorter by post time, and at that price, we think he’s a play-against.
We like 3-Azrec, who has run very well in all three of his starts this year, including his last, when he was a very good second in a Grade 2 at Woodbine last month. While we despise the notion of wagering “value” – every winner, regardless of price, has value – we do think that Azrec, at 9/2, is a better play than the favorite, and will bet him to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 3-Azrec.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.