Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, Los Alamitos
The big news on this glorious September Friday, when a tinge of fall is in the air, is the return of racing in New York, which has been on hiatus since Saratoga closed a week and a half ago. This is normally the time of year when horses and humans in the Empire State move to Belmont Park, but because of construction there, the action has instead moved to Aqueduct. For our regular weekly installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, we have two plays at the Big A, two plays at Churchill Downs, and one race out West, for five total plays to kill some time, and hopefully make some money. So pour yourself a couple of fingers of one of the fine libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, and let’s go.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A field of seven females lines up for this allowance in Northern Kentucky. We like 5-Liberty M D, who returns to Churchill, where she has done well in the past, after a rough race at Saratoga, where she was bumped early and had some traffic trouble late. She should have a cleaner trip today, and we think the early pace will be fast, which will play right into her closing running style. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Liberty M D.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:41 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Turf, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
State-bred older females, nine of them, go in this turf sprint in Ozone Park. The pick is 8-Theodora Grace, who tries for her third win in a row today, but who is a generous 6-1 on the morning line, presumably because she won each of her two most recent starts by narrow margins, a head and a nose, respectively. One may choose to look at these results and say that she was fortunate; we instead think that she is competitive, and has a nose for the wire, and that makes her a good wager. Look for her to stalk early, sitting just behind the pacesetters, and to win by getting the jump on the deep closers late. We will bet her to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Theodora Grace.
Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
Eleven go in this mile dirt affair. We like the looks of 10-Meister, who was hit and miss this spring, but who seemed to find his stride in his last start, when he rallied strongly to win an allowance at Churchill on August 13. We see a similar setup, and a similar result, for him today. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Meister.
Los Alamitos (Thoroughbred), Race 3, 5:00 pm ET
$20,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Ten maiden claimers go in the 3rd at Los Al. It’s a pretty terrible group, but one of them will have to win, and we think it will be 9-Vegas Dream, who was last seen doing a speed-and-fade against much tougher horses at Del Mar. He has a big edge in early speed, and that, combined with his tactically advantageous outside post, has us thinking that Vegas Dream is going right to the front early, and staying in front all the way around the track. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 3, $40 to win on 9-Vegas Dream.
Aqueduct, Race 9, 5:13 pm ET
$16,000 Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
The nightcap at Aqueduct is a sprint for claimers, and it drew a field of nine. The pick is 1-Mach One, who should get an ideal trip behind what should be a very fast early pace, moving to the front when the pacesetters begin to tire. This 4-year-old gelding is an admirably consistent runner who seems to run his race every time; while sometimes that is not good enough to win, we think it will be today. We will bet Mach One to win at 6-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Mach One.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.