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Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks 5 races over 90 minutes at Saratoga and Del Mar

First post 5:05 pm EDT, last post 6:33 pm. Let it Rye-d.

Labor Day is traditionally considered summer’s last hurrah, so for this Friday, on the eve of the big holiday weekend, we are holding onto the season by playing nothing but summer tracks for our Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping sequence. The big summer meet in the East is Saratoga; the big summer meet in the West is Del Mar; we have three plays at the former, and two at the latter, for a Friday five-pack of action. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so pour yourself three fingers of one of the hand-crafted Pennsylvania ryes from our friends at Dad’s Hat, settle into your favorite easy chair, and let’s go.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 8, 5:05 pm ET
$150,000 Lucky Coin Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 4 & Up

The nine older horses who line up for the Lucky Coin on paper appear to be pretty evenly matched, which makes it a good betting race. To separate them, we are going to use a handicapping angle that we learned a long, long time ago, which is that when horses appear difficult to separate, use speed as the final determinant. That makes the pick 2-The Critical Way, who has a pretty significant edge in early zip compared to the rest of the group. As long as he breaks well, we see him going right to the front, and staying there all around the track. We will bet Critical Way to win at 4-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $35 to win on 2-The Critical Way.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 9, 5:39 pm ET

Grade 2 Prioress Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Prioress drew a field of ten 3-year-old fillies. It’s a very good race, especially for a Friday. We like 6-Angitude, who earned an excellent speed figure in her last, when she finished a close third in the Wilton Stakes on July 14. That race was at Saratoga, so we know she likes the track, but what makes us favor her here is distance: the Wilton is a mile race, while this race is at six furlongs. We love the cutback, as the fitness that a young horse like Angitude developed during the longer race will serve her very well here. Look for her to press the pace early, and to draw away late. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Angitude.

Del Mar, Race 1, 6:00 pm ET

Starter Allowance, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A field of six lines up for the opener at Del Mar. We are all in on 2-M Is for Magic, who won at this starter allowance level three weeks ago, when she stalked the early pace and drew off to win by 2 ¼ lengths. We see a similar setup, and a similar result, for her today, especially since the rest of this group looks decidedly weak. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 1, $40 to win on 2-M Is for Magic.

Saratoga, Race 10, 6:13 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, New York-breds 3 & Up

Nine state-breds go to the post for the nightcap at the Spa. We like the looks of 6-Conquist, who ran very well last out, setting the pace while running pretty quick fractions, before fading very slightly late to finish second, two lengths behind the winner (he was placed fourth after the race due to some bumping down the stretch). We like the fact that he has speed, as front-runners have done well on turf at the current Saratoga meeting, but what we like even more is that the rest of the field has very little of it. We see Conquist winning this race in wire-to-wire fashion, and will consequently bet him to win at 3-1 odds. The bet: Saratoga, Race 10, $40 to win on 6-Conquist.

Del Mar, Race 2, 6:33 pm ET

$32,000 Maiden Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

A full field of ten juvenile fillies goes in this maiden claiming dirt sprint. Favored 8-Funkhouser is the likeliest winner on paper, as she drops into maiden claiming company after running in three Maiden Special Weight races, but we are going to take a shot against her, if only because she is going to be a very short price, and is no cinch, especially in a field this large.

We are taking a stab with 2-Dream State, who hasn’t shown much so far, finishing far, far back in her two career starts, but who just might wake up in this spot, as she returns to dirt after an unsuccessful try on the turf, and who, like the favorite, is dropping into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time. We think she has a sneaky good pedigree, and the presence of apprentice jockey Chel-C Bailey, whose skills we have come to admire, gets her a five-pound break in the weights. She is not a cinch, but at 20-1, we think she has a chance, and that makes her a good wager. We will bet her to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 2, $40 to win on 2-Dream State.

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

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