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Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Woodbine, Del Mar, Churchill Downs

First post 3:43 pm EST. Last post 4:33. Let it Rye-d.

If it’s the end of the workweek, it’s time for a pre-Thanksgiving edition of our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. Today we have five plays in five races at five tracks, from one end of this great land to the other, all of which go off in less than an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all of them, so throw another log onto the fire, pour yourself a couple of fingers of one of the delicious, hand-crafted-in-Pennsylvania whiskeys from our friends at Dad’s Hat, settle into your favorite easy, and let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 3:43 pm ET

Allowance, 6 furlongs, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Nine state-bred females go in the 9th at the Big A. A few of them have the same need-the-lead running style, which we would normally use as an excuse to play a come-from-behinder, a winner who makes up ground late, but in this case, the closers all look suspect, and that has us embracing an angle we learned a long, long time ago, and that is to take the speed of the speed, meaning the horse with the most early zip. That should be 5-Norman Queen, who comes off a layoff here, but whose last effort, a win in a starter allowance in March, was razor-sharp. The time on the sidelines should sharpen her early speed; we see her running the other speedballs into the ground, and holding off the closers late. We will bet her to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Norman Queen.

Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 3:51 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up

A field of eight cheap claimers line up for the 8th at Gulfstream. We are taking a shot against the favorite, 5-Sea Trident, who is in excellent form, having won his last three races, but who we think will be an underlay, as he’s going to be odds-on, and who is probably at his best in races a bit shorter than the mile distance here. He’s an example of a common phenomenon in this game, how the likeliest winner of a race can be a terrible bet.

The pick 8-Mr Tito’s, who was a hard-luck runner up in his last start, when a traffic-filled trip caused him to finish less than a length behind the winner. He had an inside post that day, but drew the tactically advantageous outside gate here, and we think that will make a big difference. Look for him to sit a few lengths, and well outside, the early leaders, and to win with a big move a the top of the stretch. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Mr Tito’s.

Woodbine, Race 7, 4:26 pm ET

$100,000 Ashbridges Bay Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Synthetic, Ontario-bred 3-Year-Old Fillies

Seven Ontario-breds line up for the Ashbridges Bay, which is run at a mile and a sixteenth on the Woodbine lint. We like 4-Dixie Morning, whose recent results have been utterly ordinary, but who has been competing in sprints, and who we think will do much better at this longer distance. Both her pedigree and running style suggest that she will be better around two turns than one, and that makes her very dangerous here, at a very nice 6-1 number. Look for her to be relaxed early, and rolling late. We will bet her to win. The bet: Woodbine, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Dixie Morning.

Del Mar, Race 3, 4:30 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 furlongs, Turf, California-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Eight go in this turf sprint allowance for Cal-breds. The one who looks the best is 9-Big Beauty, who is in fine form, having hit the board in all four of her starts this year, and who appears to have caught a group that is both weak overall, and is loaded with early speed, which should favor her stalking/late-running closing style. Big Beauty will need some luck to make it to the starting gate, as only eight can run, and she is therefore an also-eligible; but since we think a scratch of one of the horses drawn inside her is likely, we think she will run, and that makes her the best bet of the day. We will bet her to win at 9/5. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $50 to win on 9-Big Beauty.

Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:33 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Nine juvenile fillies line up for this Churchill Downs maiden affair. The pick is 9-Positano Sunset, who makes her third career start today. She did a speed-and-fade in her career debut in September, then made up ground to finish second in her second and most recent start; she has the looks of a filly who is figuring things out, and that is trouble for the rest of the field. Look for her to press the pace early, and to draw away late. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Positano Sunset.

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

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