Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Picks: Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream, Aqueduct, Oaklawn, Fair Grounds
To most people, Friday means that the weekend has arrived; to us, it means it’s time for another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have a mixed bag today, five races at five tracks, from one end of this great land to the other, all of which will be run in a bit more than an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf, except as noted below, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the deliciously potent potables from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.
Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, 4:00 pm ET
$5,000 Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
Bottom-level claimers, nine of them, go to the gate for today’s 8th in Tampa. The pick is 4-Lord Barna, who finished a good second at this level two starts back, an effort that was good enough that trainer Katheen O’Connell ran him in an allowance race next out. He was thoroughly outrun that day, finishing last of sixth, but we think that Lord Barna will find this much weaker group much easier to handle. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Lord Barna.
Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:07 pm ET
$35,000 Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
A group of eight older claiming females lines up for this turf affair in South Florida. We like 5-Demogorgon, who makes his first start for Fernando Abreu, who claimed him out of his last race. We like the fact that Demogogon has speed; we like even more that Abreu, a shrewd trainer, has placed him aggressively, running him for $35k after claiming him for $20k three weeks ago. We will bet Demogorgon to win at 7/2 odds. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 5-Demogorgon.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:28 pm ET
$100,000 East View Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred 3-Year-Old Fillies
Seven state-bred fillies go in the East View, which will be run on a sloppy main track. The hot favorite is 4-Maple Leaf Mel, who is undefeated in two career starts. She ran very fast in both of those victories, which is good, but what is less good is that they were last summer at Saratoga, and there is no guarantee that she will be as good coming off a seven-month layoff.
We are going to try to beat the chalk, and we are doing so with 7-Les Bon Temps, who would be worth considering on a dry track, but who we move up in the slop. Look for her to stalk the pace from her outside post, which is a major advantage in this kind of race, as jockey Jose Lezcano will be able to avoid having mud kicked in his face during the run down the backstretch. Let the good times roll; we will bet Les Bon Temps to win at 5/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 7-Les Bon Temps.
Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 4:50 pm ET
Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Nine fillies and mares go in this sprint in Arkansas, which we expect to be run on a sloppy track. The pick is 2-Jackman, whose overall form is good, but whose wet track form is even better: he has finished first or second in all four of his career starts on off tracks. Look for him to press the pace early, and draw away late. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 2-Jackman.
Fair Grounds, Race 7, 5:15 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 4 & Up
This very tough third-level allowance drew a field of six. The pick is 6-Big Blue Line, who won in a similar spot two races back, and then finished seventh in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Stakes last month. He was probably in over his head in that race, but he will find the massively lower level of competition here much to his liking. Big Blue Line also has some speed, which will be an asset in a race whose pace will likely be slow. We will bet him to win. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Big Blue Line.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.