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Garrity's Friday Dad's Hat Happy Hour picks for Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, Santa Anita

First post is 4:26 pm ET. Last post is 5 pm. Let it Rye-d.

It’s a Friday, and a particularly good one, as President’s Day is Monday, and that means today is, for many, the gateway to a three-day weekend. We are celebrating the best way we know, with an installment of Dad’s Hat Happy Hour Handicapping, the Friday feature in which we play a number of races in a short span of time, all with cocktail-friendly, late afternoon post times.

Today we have plays in five races at five tracks, from one end of this great land to the other, all of which will be run in a bit more than a half hour’s time. We expect fast dirt and firm turf, so throw another log on the fire, pour yourself a couple of fingers of one of the fine, hand-crafted-in-Pennsylvania libations from our friends at Dad’s Hat, and let’s go.

Aqueduct, Race 7, 4:26 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt, New York-breds 4 & Up

Ten state-bred runners go in this allowance at the Big A. Two of them, 1-Ten Cent Town and 1A-Big Engine, are trained by Rick Dutrow, and are coupled in the wagering. They are both contenders, and a win by either would not be a surprise, but we are betting against both, as the public habitually overbets these kinds of entries, and Rule #1 of this game, always and forever, is to bet against underlays.

The pick is 3-Be the Boss. He ran very well two back, earning a good speed figure on November 10, an effort that was good enough that trainer Mike Maker ran him in a state-bred stakes on December 3. The track that day came up sloppy, and we think Be the Boss did pretty well, taking the lead at the top of the stretch before being passed late, and finishing third. We think he’s a good horse sitting on a big race, and that makes his 4-1 morning line number too good to pass up. We will bet him to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 7, $40 to win on 3-Be the Boss.

Tampa Bay Downs, Race 9, 4:40 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 4 & Up

Today’s nightcap in Tampa is this second-level allowance for mile turf runners. We like 4-Possiblemente, who has done some good work of late on the synthetic surface at Gulfstream Park, but who is probably better on grass. He typically finishes races very strongly, which is a good trait to have on the sod in general, but will be even more useful here, as we expect the early fractions to be quick enough to his closing running style. Look for him to be flying late; we will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Tampa Bay Downs, Race 9, $40 to win on 4-Possiblemente.

Fair Grounds, Race 7, 4:45 pm ET

Allowance/Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

This turf sprint allowance drew a field of eight. We are going with a straight-down-the-line speed play, in the form of 6-Works for Me, who has a big pace edge: he has much more natural early speed than his rivals, and we think he is going to go right to the front, and be able to establish early supremacy comfortably enough to leave plenty of gas in the tank for the end of the race. Early speed always works for us; we will bet Works for Me to win at 6-1. The bet: Fair Grounds, Race 7, $40 to win on 6-Works for Me.

Oaklawn Park, Race 7, 4:46 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

Ten 3-year-olds line up for this maiden affair in Hot Springs. The pick is 7-Henro, who overcame quite a bit of traffic trouble to earn a good speed figure in his lone career start, which was in a maiden race at Churchill Downs. That was back in November, so he’s been away for a while, but his recent morning works have been good, and he starts for trainer Chris Hartman, who excels at getting horses to fire off the bench, so we think he will be ready today. With his outside post, he should get a much cleaner trip today, and that spells trouble for the rest of the field. We will bet him to win at 7/2 odds. The bet: Oaklawn Park, Race 7, $40 to win on 7-Henro.

Santa Anita Park, Race 4, 5:00 pm ET

Maiden Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

A field of seven lines up for today’s 4th from Santa Anita. We like 6-Criticism, who cuts back to 6 furlongs after doing a speed-and-fade at a mile last out. Before that, she ran third in a 6 ½ furlong maiden race at Del Mar on November 26, finishing behind Kopion, who has since finished first and second in two graded stakes races; and She’s a Tempest, who has since won and finished third. This is pretty close to the textbook definition of a key race, which makes us think that Criticism will be able to handle this mediocre group. She is 5/2 on the morning line, and will almost certainly be less at post time; we will bet her to win anyway. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 4, $40 to win on 6-Criticism.

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

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