Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, Los Alamitos

First post 4:55 pm EDT. Last post 5:45. Let it Rye-d.
Miracle returns to the racetrack today, looking for another win.
Miracle returns to the racetrack today, looking for another win.@TheNYRA on Twitter

If it’s Friday, it’s time for another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, the first of a new season, which in our Pennsylvania neck of the woods is the year’s best. We will commemorate the onset of autumn with plays in five races today, all of which take place in under an hour’s time, with post times conducive to enjoying a glass of one of the hand-crafted libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye. We expect fast dirt in the races on the main track, and good turf in the lone grass race, which is at Aqueduct. Let’s go.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

Eight go in this Churchill Downs allowance. We like – no, make that love – a horse who is coming out of a race where he was beaten by over 18 lengths: 2-Kneedeepinsnow was trounced in his last start, but it was in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes, when he ran against some of the best horses currently in training, including Jackie’s Warrior, last year’s champion sprinter. There is certainly no shame in losing to animals of that caliber, but we think that despite the losing margin, Kneedeepinsnow ran sneaky good that day: he contested the pace early before throwing in the towel and fading late. We think that against the lesser competition he will face today, Kneedeepinsnow is going to wake up in a big way, and return to the form he showed earlier this year. That makes him both a major threat to win this race, and, at 4-1, a sensational wager. We will bet him to win, and we will do so with gusto. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $50 to win on 2-Kneedeepinsnow.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 5:15 pm ET

Allowance, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

This first-level allowance, which drew a full field of ten, will be run on an Aqueduct turf course rated good on Friday morning. We like 10-Analogy, who has been unlucky in his last two starts, as both races had very slow early fractions that lessened the effectiveness of his best asset, which is his strong finishing kick. Partly because of the size of the field here, and partly because of the makeup of the horses comprising it, we expect a more robust early pace, which will set the table for Analogy’s to take the prize with a powerful late run. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 10-Analogy.

Los Alamitos, Race 3, 5:01 pm ET

$10,000 Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

Ten hard-knocking claimers line up for today’s 3rd at Los Al. The pick is 5-Reckoning Day, who has been running at higher levels, most recently in a optional claimer at Santa Anita, and while he was well beaten that day, we actually think the fact that he faced tougher horses, and did so running at the longer mile distance, will set him up quite nicely for this spot. Look for him to press the pace early, and draw away late; we will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Los Alamitos, Race 3, $40 to win on 5-Reckoning Day.

Churchill Downs, Race 10, 5:26 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

A field of eleven lines up for the nightcap in Louisville. We like the one on the outside, 11-True Prodigy, who was OK in his lone career start, a maiden race at Kentucky Downs, but what makes us like his chances here is a change in running surfaces: his career debut was on turf, but his pedigree suggests to us that he will be better on conventional dirt. We think that alone makes live, but throw in the tactically advantageous outside post position, and the fact that most horses run better second time out, and True Prodigy is the pick. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 10, $35 to win on 11-True Prodigy.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 5:45 pm ET

$125,000 Joseph A. Gimma Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, New York-Bred 2-Year-Old Fillies

The Gimma, a nice little stakes for 2-year-old state-bred fillies, drew a field of seven. The choice is 7-Miracle, who looked very good winning her career debut at Saratoga in July, and then faltered in her next start, when she finished third in a state-bred stakes a month later. We are drawing a line through that race, as it was run on a sloppy track that Miracle appeared not to like, and expect her to move forward in a big way on fast dirt, especially from her outside post, which is the best spot for a horse with her pace-pressing style. Look for Miracle to be just behind the first flight of horses early, and first at the wire. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Miracle.

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

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