Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks Pimlico, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Belmont
It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. For this delightful spring afternoon, we have five plays at four tracks, all of which will be run in less than an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the delicious, hand-crafted-in-Pennsylvania libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.
Pimlico, Race 8, 4:03 pm ET
Allowance, 5 furlongs, Turf, Maryland-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
This turf sprint for Maryland-bred females drew a field of ten. The pace should favor 9-Island Philo, who struggled a little bit in her last start, which was run on softer grass, but whose prior efforts, when she was competitive in a couple of state-bred stakes, looks very good, especially since the presence of a couple of equally matched speedballs in the field should produce swift early fractions that will favor her stalking running style. Look for Island Philo to be mid-pack early, and rolling late; we will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Pimlico, Race 8, $40 to win on 9-Island Philo.
Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET
Allowance, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies
Ten sophomore fillies line up for this first-level turf allowance. We like the looks of the one on the rail, 1-Bolivie, an Irish-bred who began her career in France. In her last start, rainer Brendan Walsh ran her on the synthetic racing surface at Turfway Park, which she appeared not to care for; we expect that she will be much better today, partly because she returns to grass, which we think is her preferred surface, and partly because it’s her second start in this country, and she should improve with more time to acclimate to American racing. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Bolivie.
Santa Anita Park, Race 2, 4:32 pm ET
$12,500 Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up
A half-dozen claimers will run five and a half furlongs in today’s 3rd at the Great Race Place. Morning line choice 3-Established makes a lot of sense on paper, but he looks to us like damaged goods: trainer Mark Glatt claimed him for $16k back in February, off a good runner-up finish, but a four-month layoff, and the drop in class, are both, for these lower-level claimers, alarming signs that he has physical problems. At a short price, he’s an underlay, and a play-against.
The pick is 6-Cajun Treasure. He ships up from Los Alamitos, where he has been running well, a sign that he is sound and healthy, which in these kinds of races is as important a handicapping factor as anything else. Plus he has speed, and an outside post: we think he goes right to the front, and does not look back. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 2, $40 to win on 6-Cajun Treasure.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET
$150,000 Gold Fever Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds
The Gold Fever drew a field of eight. The favorite, 2-Squire Creek, has looked very good going undefeated in his first two career starts, but we think he is vulnerable here, as he has by virtue of his dominant speed, but did so on speed-favoring racing surfaces, and he just might struggle on the deeper Belmont racing surface. At 7/5 on the morning line, he’s a hard pass.
The pick is 4-Tuskegee Airman. He was good enough as a juvenile last year that trainer John Servis ran him in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct in December, where he finished third on a sloppy track that he seemed to dislike. He’ll get fast dirt today, which is reason enough to like him, but another is that his recent morning workouts have been sizzling, a sign that Tuskegee Airman is sitting on a big race. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $50 to win on 4-Tuskegee Airman.
Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET
$10,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
A field of ten maidens goes in the nightcap at Churchill Downs. Most of them are inveterate losers, which should make the race easy pickings for 10-Majestic Flag, a 4-year-old gelding who is winless after five career starts, but who has hit the board twice, and has done so against tougher company. He has speed, and this is a case where the post position is going to do jockey Edgar Morales a favor: Drawing outside is going to force him to use that speed in order to establish good position early, and avoid getting fanned wide around the first turn. Majestic Flag may get the early lead, or he may press the pace; either way, we think he takes this, and will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Majestic Flag.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.