Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping picks races at Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Belmont

First post 4:22 pm EDT. Last post 5:01 pm. Let it Rye-d.
Racing at Santa Anita.
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It’s time for a Memorial Day edition of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: On this holiday weekend getaway day, we have plays in five races at four tracks, all of which will be run in less than an hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all of them, so pour yourself a tumbler of one of the deliciously potent potables from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.

Churchill Downs, Race 8, 4:22 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up

Today’s 8th at Churchill Downs is an allowance, and a very tough one, with several stakes-caliber entrants in the field of six. We’re expecting a blazingly fast pace, which should set the table quite nicely for 3-Smokin’ Jay, who has run his best races when he sits behind quick early fractions and rallies late. We will bet him to win at 10-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, race 8, $40 to win on 3-Smokin’ Jay

Santa Anita, Race 2, 4:30 pm ET

Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Five older turf females line up for the second at Santa Anita. We can’t remember the last time we picked a horse coming off a 94½ length defeat, but that’s what we are doing here: 3-Rose Barton was last seen running last, nearly 100 lengths behind the winner, on April 8. But we are drawing a line through that race, as it was on dirt, a surface for which she is neither bred nor suited. Returning to the sod will result in a much improved effort, but so will the race shape: It looks like she is going to get loose on a walking lead, and from that advantageous position, we think the rest of the field is going to be spinning their hooves trying to catch her. We see a gate-to-wire victory for Rose Barton, and will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 2, $40 to win on 3-Rose Barton.

Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

A dozen state-bred females go in this afternoon’s featured race at Belmont Park. We like the looks of 6-Dream Central, who comes off a long layoff here, but who last fall ran pretty well while facing much tougher company in restricted stakes races. We like her partly because of that back class, but also because of pace: we think the early fractions will be swift, which will favor Dream Central’s late-running style. We will bet her to win at 10-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Dream Central.

Churchill Downs, Race 9, 4:55 pm ET

$30,000 Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up

Eight hard-knocking claimers line up for the nightcap in Louisville. The pick is 7-Fieldstone, who makes his first start for trainer Jonathan Wong, who claimed him out of a similar spot a month ago. Look for him to press the pace early, move to the lead at the top of the stretch, and hold off the closers late. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Churchill Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 7-Fieldstone.

Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 5:01 pm ET

Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Dirt, 3 & Up

Six go in this maiden race at Santa Anita. Morning line favorite 5-Worcester is certainly going to be the shortest price of the week, and even might be the shortest price of the month: The Bob Baffert trainee is winless in four career starts, but has already run Beyer Speed Figures in the upper 90s twice – this is fast enough to win stakes races, not just maiden races. He’s 3/5 on the morning line, and when the gates open, will probably be something like 1/10 or even 1/20..

On paper, Worcester looks like a layover – so naturally, we are going to play against him, and are doing so with 2-Finding Love, a well-bred sort who floundered sprinting on the turf in his career debut, but should be much better going longer on the dirt. He’s 15-1 on the morning line, but will probably be a bigger price at post time; we will bet him to win. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 3, $40 to win on 2-Finding Love.

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

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