Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks Gulfstream Park, Churchill Downs, Aqueduct & Del Mar
If it’s Friday, it’s time for another weekly installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have plays in five races today, at four different tracks, all of which go off in about an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below, so pour yourself a glass of one of the pleasingly palatable potables from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, and let’s go.
Gulfstream Park, Race 7, 3:31 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Florida-bred 2-Year-Old Fillies
Ten go in this maiden sprint for juvenile fillies bred in the Sunshine State, but we have eyes for just one: 4-Guardian Angel. It’s not often that we like a runner who lost her last start by over 1 lengths, but that’s the case here: Guardian Angel lost by that much on October 1, but we are giving her a pass, because it was in a stakes race, against some pretty tough competition, and it was also at a mile and a sixteenth, which is probably too far for her. We think she wakes up in a big way against this much lesser group, which makes her a good play at 5/2. We will bet her to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Guardian Angel.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:43 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A half dozen go in the 8th at the Big A, where it will be rainy, and the main track sloppy. This is a case of the conditions sealing the deal for a filly we liked anyway: it’s 1-Fouette, who catches a weak group, on a racing surface that should favor her, after mixed results, against much tougher horses, in her last few starts. Look for Fouette to go right to the front, and to stay there all the way around the track. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $50 to win on 1-Fouette.
Del Mar, Race 2, 3:59 pm ET
$32,000 Maiden Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
A half-dozen line up for this maiden claimer at Del Mar, and the race poses a trenchant handicapping question: what does one do when a horse who cost almost half a million bucks, and who has been an enormous disappoint in two career starts, is dropped from straight maiden races to the maiden claiming ranks, where he is available for sale for a measly thirty-two grand? For us, there is only one answer: bet against him.
The animal in question is 2-American Refugee, who sold for $475,000 at the Keeneland September sale two years ago. He could certainly win, but he is going to be a minuscule price, and he is therefore the kind of bad favorite we live to bet against, as his presence here practically screams that he’s damaged goods. This is doubly true because he is only 3, and therefore could, theoretically at least, turn into a runner.
We like 4-Magnificent. Like American Refugee, he was an expensive purchase, selling for $250k as a yearling, and he has been equally disappointing in straight maiden races, but for him, the drop makes more sense, partly because of age (he’s 4, rather than 3), and partly because he’s a gelding, and therefore has no residual value as a stallion. Magnificent has had some bad luck in some of his eight career starts, and if he gets a fair trip today, and we think he will, then we think he can win at this level. We will bet him to do just that, at 5/2 odds. The bet: Del Mar, Race 2, $40 to win on 4-Magnificent.
Del Mar, Race 3, 4:30 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 furlongs, Turf, 2-Year-Olds
Five first-level allowance turf sprinters go here. The pick is 5-Tangledupingrey, who gets the nod partially because of speed, a trait he possesses in abundance, and partly because of post: he drew outside the favorite, 3-Helladic, who should get the early lead. We see Tangledupingrey pressing Helladic throughout, and grinding his way past him down the short Del Mar stretch. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $35 to win on 5-Tangledupingrey.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:33 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up
A septet of allowance runners lines up for the 8th in Louisville, where the remnants of Hurricane Nicole will produce a sloppy track. The pick is 3-Mr. Wireless, who hits the wet-track-handicapping trifecta: he’s got good speed, has done well on sloppy tracks in the past, and is in good overall form. He may go right to the front, or he may stalk; either way, he’s going to the winner’s circle. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 3-Mr. Wireless.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.