Racing at Saratoga.
Racing at Saratoga. Charles Mann | NYRA

Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour Handicapping: 5 races at Saratoga and Monmouth, with the Coronation Cup

First post 4:34 pm EDT. Last post 5:44. Let it Rye-d.

The weekend is upon us, which means it’s time for another installment of our regular Friday feature, Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping. We have plays in five races, two at Monmouth Park, and three at Saratoga, which opened yesterday; we expect fast dirt and firm turf in all races, except as noted below. We are in full-blown summer racing mode now, so crank up the air conditioning, pour yourself a dram of one of the delicious, hand-crafted-in-Pennsylvania rye whiskeys from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 7, 4:34 pm ET

$16,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

Older claiming horses, eleven of them, go in Race 7 at the Spa. We like 5-Cash Now, who was claimed for $10k two starts back by trainer Rob Atras. In his first start after the claim, Atras ran him in a turf sprint at Belmont Park, and while he ran very well to finish a close second, we think that spot was a prep for this spot. We think he is poised to run big, which makes his 10-1 morning line number very, very enticing. We will bet him to win. The bet: Saratoga, Race 7, $40 to win on 5-Cash Now.

Monmouth Park, Race 7, 4:48 pm ET

$40,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3 & Up

A field of nine goes in the 7th at the Jersey Shore. The pick is 9-Prince of Troy, who makes the biggest class drop in racing here, going from straight maiden company to the maiden claiming ranks. He has been consistent in his eight career starts so far, and while he has not been good enough to prevail against tougher foes, it appears as though his typical effort should be more than adequate to beat this weak group. We will bet him to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 9-Prince of Troy.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 8, 5:10 pm ET
$50,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 4 & Up

This claiming dirt sprint drew a field of nine. We are against morning line choice 5-Dot’s Dollar, who drops in class after a very good allowance win at Belmont Park. That win was just six days ago, and while we normally like horses making that kind of quick turnaround, we hate the class drop: he looks like damaged goods to us. At a short price, he’s a major play-against.

The pick is 4-Happy Farm. He was claimed for $40k out of his last race, and we like that new trainer Antonio Arriaga is placing him aggressively, jumping him up in class off the claim. We see him getting a good stalking trip, behind what should be swift early fractions, and rolling late, when the pacesetters tire. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Happy Farm.

Monmouth Park, Race 8, 5:16 pm ET

$5,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up

A septet of bottom-level claimers goes in the Monmouth Park nightcap. The pick is the delightfully named 6-Dizzy Gillespie, who returns to a level at which he has been successful, after finishing fifth against tougher company last out. He’s 9 years old, quite an advanced age for a racing Thoroughbred, but he’s been running well, he seems to be sound, and we think that the gutsy old gelding can get one more good toot out of his horn in this spot, and earn some salt peanuts for his backers. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 6-Dizzy Gillespie.

Saratoga Race Course, Race 9, 5:44 pm ET

$150,000 Coronation Cup, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Old Fillies

A terrific rainstorm hit Saratoga right after the races ended yesterday, so while we are expecting the Coronation Cup, which drew a field of eight, to stay on grass, we’re expecting the turf to have some give to it. That is important, as the softer going should play less in favor of speed, and more in favor of the horses who will be rolling late.

That has us reaching for a price, in the form of 5-Violet Gibson, who cuts back to sprinting after running at a mile in each of her last two starts. She’s got a good late kick, and also is an Irish-bred, and that Euro pedigree should allow her to handle the going. Look for her to be flying late; we will bet her to win at 12-1. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 5-Violet Gibson.

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

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