Bankit, winning the Sleepy Hollow at Belmont way back in 2018.
Bankit, winning the Sleepy Hollow at Belmont way back in 2018.NYRA | Elsa Lorieul

Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Saratoga, Monmouth, Del Mar, Ellis Park

First race 4:29 pm EDT. Last race 5:10 pm. Let it Rye'd.

It’s time for another Friday installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. This afternoon we have five plays in five races from four tracks, all in a span of about forty minutes’ time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the delicious, hand-crafted-in-Pennsylvania potables from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, and let’s go.

Saratoga, Race 7, 4:29 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

A field of ten sophomore fillies goes in the 7th at Saratoga. We like one that will be a good price, 6-Linda’s Gift, who shortens up to a mile after running in slightly longer races in each of her last two starts. She has the best late kick in the field, and while these kinds of turf races on the New York circuit frequently have laughably slow early fractions that play against closers, we do not think that will be the case here, as a couple of fillies in the field have sprinting speed, and that should produce an early pace robust enough to favor the come-from-behind running style of Linda’s Gift. Look for her to be flying late; we will bet her to win at 10-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Linda’s Gift.

Monmouth Park, Race 7, 4:48 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile 70 Yards, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Nine go in this allowance race at the Jersey Shore, but we have eyes for just one: 1-Baby Man, to whom we can assign the two most dangerous words in horse racing: lone speed. We think Baby Man pops out of the gate, goes right to the front from her inside post position, and stays in front all the way around the track. She got caught contesting a wickedly fast pace in her last start, but still managed to finish the race courageously. We think she will have a much easier time up front today, which means she is going to win easily. We will bet her to win at 5/2, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 7, $50 to win on 1-Baby Man.

Del Mar, Race 3, 4:58 pm ET
$32,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

This claimer at a mile on the turf drew seven filly and mare entrants. The pick is 6-Consternation, who drops into the claiming ranks for the first time in this spot. Trainer Paddy Gallagher thought enough of her to run her in a stakes race not long ago, the Jimmy Durante at Del Mar last November, and while she was not competitive that day, and was not competitive in her two starts since, we think that running against this lower level of competition will improve her results dramatically. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $35 to win on 6-Consternation.

Saratoga, Race 8, 5:05 pm ET

$125,00 Evan Shipman Handicap, 1 mile, Dirt, New York-breds 3 & Up

Seven older horses go in the Evan Shipman. We like 1-Bankit, who comes off a disappointing effort – but it was in the Godolphin Mile, a Group 2 race on the undercard of the Dubai World Cup, when he faced some of the best dirt milers in the world. We think that facing a half-dozen New York-breds is going to seem like a walk in the park to him compared to that, and it doesn’t hurt that his trainer, Steve Asmussen, has been hot at Saratoga, winning at a robust 30% clip since the start of the meet. We will bank it on Bankit, and bet him to win at 9/5. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Bankit.

Ellis Park, Race 8, 5:10 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

A dozen line up for the nightcap at Ellis Park. The field as a group is a typical maiden race, with most of the runners having hit-and-miss form, but there is one entrant that caught our eye: It is 10-Encourage, who has run three times, and who was well-beaten in all of them, but who has a chance today, we think, primarily because of the surface. His prior races were on dirt and synthetic, but his pedigree screams turf to us, and we think he will improve dramatically with the switch to the sod. He gets Lasix for the first time, which might help, and he also runs for the first time as a gelding, and we think that should lead to improvement as well. Add it up, and we think the signs are encouraging for Encourage; we will bet him to win at 12-1. The bet: Ellis Park, Race 8, $35 to win on 10-Encourage.

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

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