Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Aqueduct, Oaklawn, Keeneland, Santa Anita
If the weekend is upon us, then it’s time for our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have five plays at four tracks today, all of which have cocktail-friendly late afternoon post times, and all of which will be run in a bit more than an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below, so settle into your favorite easy chair, pour yourself a dram of one of the savory spirits from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.
Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:38 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
It’s going to be very rainy at the Big A this afternoon, and this second-level allowance, which drew eight runners, will consequently be run on a sloppy track. The condition of the racing surface has our attention focused on 8-Cees Get Degrees, who has three things going for him: an excellent wet-track record (a win and two seconds in three career off-track starts), the most natural early speed in the field, and an outside post position. We think that he leverages those assets by going right to the front, and winning in gate-to-wire fashion. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 8-Cees Get Degrees.
Oaklawn Park, Race 8, 4:54 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Eleven older females line up for the 8th in Hot Springs. We’re all in on favored 9-Jubella, who was a runner up in a similar spot last out, finishing a length and three-quarters behind the winner weeks ago, but who actually ran very well that day, considering that she broke in the air, and gave the field a half-dozen lengths before she was even out of the gate. We expect a better start, and a better result, today. We will bet her to win at 8/5. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Jubella.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:16 pm ET
Allowance, 7 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
This allowance at Keeneland drew a field of seven. Favored 1-A La Carte looks pretty imposing, as he’s run very fast in both of his career starts. But we think he will be an illustration that the likeliest winner, which he is, can be a terrible bet: he’s 4/5 on the morning line, and will likely be even shorter by post time. At that price, he’s an underlay, and a play-against, especially considering that he’s a 5-year-old who has made just two career starts, and has obviously had some pretty significant physical problems.
We like 2-Debate. He finished second in his last start, back in January at Oaklawn Park, and we think that was a good effort, especially considering that it was the first time he ran around two turns. We think that he moves forward off that race, which makes him a major win threat, and, at 6-1, a good play. We will bet him to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Debate.
Santa Anita Park, Race 4, 5:29 pm ET
$16,000 Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
A half-dozen hard-knocking older claimers go in this Santa Anita sprint. The pick is 6-Sonofafinch, who has earned consistently superior speed figures up North, in allowance races at Golden Gate Fields. Those races were on a synthetic racing surface, and while there is no guarantee that he will transfer that form to the conventional dirt in Arcadia, we think he will actually be better today, which means the rest of the field is running for second money. Look for Sonofafinch to press the pace early, and draw away late; we will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $40 to win on 6-Sonofafinch.
Keeneland, Race 10, 5:48 pm ET
Allowance, 1 mile, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
This first-level allowance on the turf is the nightcap at Keeneland, and it’s a wide open affair, a real handicapper’s race. We are taking a stab on a runner who will be a massive price: 10-Moonstrike, who has run just twice in his career, with his only win in a lowly maiden claiming race in February. Based on the way he’s run so far, he would appear to be a throwout.
But we think he has a shot here, as both of his prior races were on the synthetic racing surface at Turfway Park, and both his European pedigree (he was bred in England), and his running style suggest that he will be better on turf than he was on the lint. He’ll have to improve, and improve significantly, to contend here, but we think a major step forward is a very real possibility – and he’s 50-1 on the morning line, and may be even higher by post time. We will try to start the weekend with a bang, and will do so by betting Moonstrike to win. The bet: Keeneland, Race 10, $40 to win on 10-Moonstrike.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.