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Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: Races at Keeneland, Aqueduct and Santa Anita

First post 4:44 pm EDT. Last post 5:48 pm. Let it Rye-d.

It’s Friday, and to celebrate making it through another week, it’s time for a new installment of our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have plays in five races today, three at Keeneland and one each at Aqueduct and Santa Anita. All have cocktail-friendly, late-afternoon post times, and we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all five, so pour yourself a couple of fingers of one of the delectable libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.

Keeneland, Race 8, 4:44 pm ET

Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

This very tough third-level turf allowance drew a full field of ten. Adding spice to the group are two European imports, and they’ve actually run against each other before: 1-Juncture and 3-Viareggio both ran in the Group 3 Snow Fairy Stakes, which was run at the Curragh in Dublin last August. Viareggio won that day, but we like Juncture to turn the tables here: she faced tougher competition in her other races last year, hitting the board in a couple of salty Irish stakes, and appears to be the kind of filly who will thrive on the firmer turf she will see on this side of the pond. We will bet Juncture to win at 4-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Juncture.

Aqueduct, Race 8, 5:06 pm ET

Allowance, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

An octet of state-bred fillies and mares lines up for this afternoon’s featured race at the Big A. The pick is 1-Bavarian Creme, who comes off an excellent win, at this distance and on the Aqueduct main track, on March 5. She got a perfect stalking trip that day, and while it is usually wise to play against a horse who had an advantageous trip in her last start, we’re making an exception here, because we think Bavarian Creme is going to get a very similar setup today: we see her getting excellent stalking position early, and moving to the front when the pacesetters tire. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Bavarian Creme.

Keeneland, Race 9, 5:16 pm ET

Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up

Older females, eight of them, line up for the Doubledogdare. We’re all in on 2-Green Up, who who won four in a row last year, a couple of them stakes races, before she got caught too close to a hot pace in the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx, and faded to finish fourth. She’s had seven months off to recover from that race, and should launch a promising season with a convincing win here. Look for her to sit just off the early leaders, and roll late. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Green Up.

Santa Anita, Race 4, 5:29 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Seven line up for this starter allowance at Santa Anita. Looking the best of a weak group is 6-Pequena Tormenta, who has been away for a while, having last run in June, over 10 months ago, but who before that was faster, by a pretty good margin, than any of her rivals. If she’s fit and sound – and her recent morning works suggest she is – she should handle this field. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $40 to win on 6-Pequena Tormenta

Keeneland, Race 10, 5:48 pm ET
Allowance, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

This is a first-level allowance, meaning it is restricted to 3-year-old colts who have never won a race other than against maiden or claiming company. Put another way, it’s for colts who have won a maiden race, but have never beaten winners. This leaves a handicapper to assess the quality of the maiden race each horse has won: if Horse A beat a good group of maidens, he will, all other things being equal, be favored over Horse B, who broke his maiden by outrunning a bunch of nags.

We mention that because there is a runner in here whose maiden win was quite good, but we think his merits might be missed by the betting public: it’s 4-Twowaycrossing, who won his debut race, which was at Woodbine last October, quite impressively, but then finished ninth and fifth in his two subsequent starts. That on the surface appears bad; but we are excusing both of those efforts, the first because it was run on a synthetic surface that he appeared not to like; the second because it was on the speed-favoring turf at Gulfstream Park: He’s a colt who seems to prefer coming from off the pace, and that kind of style just does not work at Gulfstream. On the much fairer sod at Keeneland, we think he looks poised to return to the form he showed in his maiden race; that makes him dangerous, and at a 15-1 morning line number, an enticing play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 10, $40 to win on 4-Twowaycrossing.

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

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