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Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: Race picks for Aqueduct, Del Mar, Fair Grounds

First post 3:43 pm EST. Last post 4:45 pm. Let it Rye-d.

A new month is a perfectly suitable occasion for another edition of our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. To commemorate turning the page from November to December, we have plays in five races today, a pair each at Aqueduct and Del Mar, with a race from the Fair Grounds in New Orleans thrown in as well. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all races, so let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:43 pm ET

Allowance, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

This first-level allowance at the Big A drew eight runners. We like 7-Curlin’s Wisdom, a New York-bred 3-year-old colt whose last two starts were excellent: he won an allowance two back, and in his last, he finished second in a stakes race. Both of those efforts were against his fellow state-breds, and he faces the deeper waters of open company (i.e. states bred in other states, especially Kentucky) here, but his recent speed figures suggest that he is up to the challenge. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 7-Curlin’s Wisdom.

Del Mar, Race 2, 4:00 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds

Seven go in this starter allowance at Del Mar. The pick is 5-Top of My Game, who has two things in his favor: He gets class relief, as he has been facing much, much tougher; and he should get a dream trip here, sitting behind two faint-hearted speedballs, both of whom are drawn to his outside, and who are likely set a fast pace that will leave both of them out of gas late, but set the table for Top of My Game’s strong stretch rally. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $40 to win on 5-Top of My Game.

Aqueduct, Race 9, 4:12 pm ET

$25,000 Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, New York-breds 3 & Up

The nightcap at Aqueduct, a $25,000 claiming dirt sprint, drew a field of ten. We fancy 6-Gandy Dancing, who makes his first start for new trainer Rob Atras, who claimed him six weeks ago. Atras jumps him in class here, a sign of aggression that we like; we also like that Gandy Dancing will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, the top rider on the New York circuit. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 9, $40 to win on 6-Gandy Dancing.

Del Mar, Race 3, 4:30 pm ET
$32,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Olds

A field of eight juveniles lines up for this Southern California maiden affair. The pick is 2-Stop and a Tres, who has a whole bunch of stuff going on: he’s dropping from straight maiden to claiming company; he adds blinkers; and he makes his first start since being gelded in August. He’s run just once in his career, and we think he could still turn out to be a decent runner – he’s got a terrific pedigree, as he’s by Into Mischief, arguably the top dirt stallion in the world, and he’s also out of an A.P. Indy mare – but what makes us like him the most here is that he has not yet proved himself to be an inveterate loser, as have most of the other colts  in the field. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $40 to win on 2-Stop and a Tres.

Fair Grounds, Race 6, 4:45 pm ET

Allowance, 1 mile 70 yards, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies

Six go in this allowance race in the Big Easy. We’re against the favorite, 6-Batacuda, not because there’s anything wrong with her, but because the win in her last start, which was her career debut, made her look better than she probably is: She got a dream trip sitting behind a very fast pace, closing strongly to win. She earned a speed figure for that effort that is the best in the field, but horses are almost always not really as good as they look when they get this kind of favorable trip. She may win, but at a short price, she’s a play-against.

We like 4-All About Me. She has been pretty good in her last few races, but they were on turf, and it is an open question whether she will be as good on conventional dirt as she was on the sod. We are willing to gamble that the answer is yes, as she did OK on dirt in the first few races of her career, last summer at Delaware Park, and we think that she can carry her recent turf form to the Fair Grounds main track today. At 7/2, she is a much better play than the chalk. We will bet All About Me to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 6, $40 to win on 4-All About Me.

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

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