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Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping Picks Races at Aqueduct, Oaklawn, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds

First post 4:26 pm ET, last post 5:15 pm. Let it Rye'd.

Our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, has been on an extended winter break spent, spending time happily galloping on the farm with the fallen leaves and the snow. But as spring is in the air it’s time for us to bring it back: We have five plays in five races at four tracks this afternoon, from New York to Louisiana to Arkansas to Southern California. All five races, which should be run on fast dirt and firm turf, will be run in less than an hour’s time, with Happy Hour-adjacent, late-afternoon post times, so pull up a chair, pour yourself a couple of fingers of one of the delectable libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat Rye, and let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 4:26 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-breds 4 & Up

Today’s 8th at Aqueduct, a second-level allowance sprint for state-breds, is today’s featured race in Ozone Park. It drew a field of nine. The pick is 6-Scocciatore, a 6-year-old gelding who is quite good when he’s healthy, but who has had some physical issues, as evidenced by the fact that his last race was in April, over ten months ago. If he’s sound, he wins this, as he looks better than the rest of the field; we also like him because the race shape should favor his pace-pressing running style. We will bet Scocciatore to win at 4-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Scocciatore.

Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 4:38 pm ET

$40,000 Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

Nine hard-knocking older horses go to the starting gate for the 7th in Hot Springs. The pick is 4-Brooklyn Diamonds, who drops into the claiming ranks after running against much tougher allowance company of late. We like him partly because of the class drop, but mostly because we expect a speed duel on the front end in the race’s early stages, which will play right into his stalking running style. We see him mid-pack early, moving forward around the far turn, as the pacesetters start backing up, and drawing away late. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 4-Brooklyn Diamonds.

Santa Anita Park, Race 4, 5:03 pm ET

$12,500 Claiming, 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Older female claimers, a half dozen of them, go in the 4th at Santa Anita. The two favorites are coming out of a common race, run Jan. 15, when 6-A Broken Breeze finished first, two lengths ahead of 3-Sacred Beauty. The two are 8/5 and 5/2, respectively, but we think that Sacred Beauty is going to turn the tables on her rival today, as the presence of 1-Flatterwithjewels, who has a sprinter’s speed, is going to produce a swift early pace that will favor Sacred Beauty’s come-from-behind style. At this lower claiming level, the shape of the race is frequently as responsible for determining a winner as the ability of the horses: last time, the race shape favored A Broken Breeze, who is a pace-presser; this time, it will favor Sacred Beauty. We will bet Sacred Beauty to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $35 to win on 3-Sacred Beauty.

Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 5:10 pm ET

Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up

Nine go in this first-level allowance. We like 8-Efficiency, a lightly raced 4-year-old who finished a distant third in his last start. Considering that it was his first start of a layoff, his first start for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and that it was a sprint, when he was much better at longer distances last year, we can’t think that it was anything but a prep for this spot. That means that he should be much better today, making him a major contender. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 8-Efficiency.

Fair Grounds, Race 7, 5:15 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Louisiana-breds 4 & Up

A field of eight state-bred turf runners line up for the 7th at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. It’s a terrific betting race. We like 6-Oh My Aching Arch, whose was compromised in his last start when he got stuck behind a very slow pace that muted his closing kick; the presence here of no-hope speedball 5-Wise Anchor should ensure swift early fractions that will set the table quite nicely for Oh My Aching Arch’s stretch rally. Look for him to be flying late; we will bet him to win at 5-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Oh My Aching Arch.

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

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