Turf racing at Woodbine in Toronto.
Turf racing at Woodbine in Toronto.woodbine.com

Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Hour Handicapping picks races at Keeneland, Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Woodbine

First post is 4:12 pm EDT. Last post is 4:44 pm. Let it Rye-d.

If it’s a Friday in October, it’s time for an autumnal installment of our regular end-of-the-week feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. Today we have plays in five races at four tracks, all of which go off in a cocktail-friendly, late afternoon window of less than an hour’s time. We expect fine fall weather, and fast dirt and firm turf, in all five races, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the pleasingly potent Pennsylvania potables from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, settle into your favorite easy chair, and let’s go.

Keeneland, Race 7, 4:12 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

 A terrific maiden affair goes as the 7th at Keeneland, with a deep and evenly matched group of 12 going to the post. The pick is 1-Communication Memo, who comes off a third-place finish in his career debut on Sept. 17. Two colts who finished behind him that day have since come back to win, and we think that Communication Memo will be the third. Look for him to press the pace early, and hold old late. We will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $40 to win on 1-Communication Memo.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET

Allowance, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 3 & Up

A field of ten allowance runners lines up to run 11 furlongs in today’s featured race at the Big A. The lack of early speed in the group has us liking a gelding who will be an enormous price: It’s 4-Saranac, who has not done much since being brought to the U.S. from his native France earlier this year, going winless in four starts, a record that has earned him a 30-1 number on the morning line. But we have reason to think he may just have a shot here, as we think he is going to get the early lead, and he showed in a couple of races in France last year that he can do fairly well with a forwardly placed trip. We think Saranac might just get brave if allowed to gallop on an easy lead, and that makes him an attractive play at huge odds. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Saranac.

Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 4:35 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, Florida-bred 2-Year-Old Fillies

Ten Florida-bred juvenile fillies line up for the nightcap at Gulfstream Park. The pick is 9-She’s a Joy, a first-time starter who has a modest pedigree, but who has three things going for her: an outside post; some good morning workouts in recent weeks; and, most importantly, a trainer, Ron Spatz, who is skilled with getting horses to fire in their debut. We will bet She’s a Joy to win at 10-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $35 to win on 9-She’s a Joy.

Woodbine, Race 7, 4:36 pm ET

$100,000 Lake Superior Stakes, 7 furlongs, Turf, Ontario-bred 3-Year-Olds

Seven 3-year-olds line up for the Lake Superior, but we have eyes for just one: 4-Banff, who was last seen trying to overcome a tough trip in an allowance race on Oct. 2; he was forced to race very wide all the way around the track, and managed to take the lead in mid-stretch, but was passed late, and finished second. We see a better trip and a better result today: look for him to sit comfortably in mid-pack early, and to blow the race open with a big late move. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Woodbine, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Banff.

Keeneland, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A full field of twelve lines up for this very tough third-level allowance on the Keeneland turf. The pick is 5-Bellagamba, a 5-year-old mare who was bred in Argentina, and whose last race was a fourth-place finish that we think is better than it looks on paper: It was in the Canadian Stakes, a Grade 2 at Woodbine, and the winner that day was a filly named Fev Rover, who came back to run a very good third in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor. That’s far better company than Bellagamba will face today, which is good. What is even better is that we think the early pace here will be fast enough to set up her closing kick, which is devastating. She might be last early, but we think Bellagamba will be first late; we will bet her to win at 9/2. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $50 to win on 5-Bellagamba.

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

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