Weather continues to be an issue at this meet, as last Saturday’s card was canceled again due to heavy rains in the area. Tonight’s card appears to be safe, but tomorrow evening could be a different story once again. Rails are out at 17 feet for the six races this evening, limiting each race to a maximum of 10 starters. First post tonight is at 7:00 PM (ET).
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Exotics Menu|
|1||3||2,3,8||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|2||7||6,7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|3||4||3,4||2,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The night gets started with a time restricted $8K claiming race for three year olds and upward going 1 mile and 1/16. There’s a lot of talented horses in this race that have not won in a while and some of them are beginning to regress a bit. What makes this kind of race tricky to handicap is that you’re never sure which version of some of these horses is going to show up. Dubby Dubbie (#3) is an interesting price in this race. He’s making his third start off the layoff for Kelly Breen. His effort three back before the break at Gulfstream would make him competitive with this group. He struggled in his first two starts at Monmouth, but I think he had tough trips in both races. He broke from post 11 in a loaded $12,500-$10,500 claimer on Haskell Day. Justintimeforwine, who we’ll see in the next race, is much faster early on, and he threw down the gauntlet early and held on late. In his next start, he was under pressure on the front end every step of the way. I don’t think he wants to be setting the tempo, but I think he can sit the right kind of trip from his inside draw. Monarchs Glen (#8) looked the part when he returned from a break to face open $12,500-$10,500 claimers last out at Monmouth. He was rolling late and came within a half length of scoring for Robert Falcone. He was very good in 2022 before fading toward the end of the season. He’s a nine year old gelding, so you do have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. However, he’s a gritty 8-time winner that typically runs his race when he’s right. Falcone also sends out Dream Liner (#2), who faltered in his last start in an off the turf race at Delaware. He’s another runner that was in very good form last year. Tony Wilson had dim prior to Falcone claiming him three starts ago. He started one time for him at Monmouth where he ran a solid second, showing improvement from his previous effort. He wheels him back quickly, but he figures to be right in the mix with this group as well.
I think it’s going to be hard to beat Outlaw Country (#6) who is the favorite in this N1X allowance race. However, I do think Just Beat the Odds (#7) is very interesting if he takes to the turf. He was impressive in his five starts at Monmouth this summer, facing some salty maiden special weight fields on the dirt. He broke through and was a handy winner two starts back. He came back at this level on closing weekend and faded to finish 4th when Buff Hello, who has been in great form, won again at the optional claiming/N1X level. His rail draw that day did not suit him well for the race flow and the rail was not a great place to be in general in the last month on the dirt at Monmouth. He’s sired by Munnings, so there is a chance that he could improve on grass. He’s drawn outside of the other speed horses, Sunshine Charlie (#1) and Justintimeforwine (#3), neither of which I really trust at this distance. Sacco doesn’t have great numbers with first time turf runners, but I think he has been facing the best overall horses. I’ll wager that his class and stamina can prevail. Outlaw Country has been too good to ignore in his last few starts. He thrives at this five furlong distance and he should get the right pace to close in to. He came within two lengths of winning at this level and distance earlier in the meet and he’s certainly earned the right to take another swing tonight.
$10K maiden claimers will go 1 mile and 1/16 here. Paschal Moon (#4) was 5th last week against a significantly better group. He showed improvement on the class drop and now drops again to a level where he should be more competitive. Jose Camejo has had a tough season in New Jersey, so it would be nice to see this barn get a win in what will be his last starter in this state for 2023. Dooq (#3) makes a lot of sense at this level after running two strong races in his last two turf starts. He has found a home on the grass in these lower level races and should be primed to improve in his third start off the layoff for Michael Pino. Hartsbeatlikethundr (#6) is a first time starter for Robert Falcone. This barn has done well with a limited sample of debut runners, including one winner with a debut runner in maiden claiming company in four tries over the last two years. There’s some definite turf influences in the pedigree and his works are reasonable. I don’t love that he’s debuting with a $10K tag, but there’s not a ton of talent in this field. Affamato (#2) is another unknown commodity on the grass. Robert Klesaris does have good numbers with horses going from dirt to turf. While the pedigree doesn’t scream grass, he could be another runner that moves forward in this race.
I’m not going to be fancy in this state bred optional $20K claiming/N1X allowance race. Leo Monte (#2) was entered in a few N2X races that were canceled earlier in this meet. He was claimed for $30K when finishing a troubled trip 5th at that level last month at Monmouth. Dan Ward opts to enter him for the $20K in a race with a $52,500 purse, as opposed to running in Race 6 later on tonight. He was an impressive winner on this course last season, beating a better field by three widening lengths. I think he’s better than most of these and he should get the job at a short price. Isabelle de Tomaso has a few horses that would qualify for this race, and in order to get them all in a race, she is running Irish Rill in the 6th tonight, even though he is eligible for this N1X level. Go to the Kingdom (#13) is going to need some defections to draw into this race. He’d be worth a look if he does. However, Indiantown (#9) for Graham Motion will have the opportunity to run. He came back at this level at the end of August after missing almost an entire year. He was flying home at this level last year to miss in a photo. He should be more fit for this race, but he didn’t have to deal with a horse as good as Leo Monte in those races. I think he might have more upside, but he’s drawn wide and could be left with too much work to do. I think his presence will also keep the price more reasonable on Leo Monte as Graham Motion’s runners are typically well-backed in New Jersey, even though his success level in this state hasn’t been that great over the last few years.
I don’t love the New York invaders in this $25K maiden claiming turf dash. There’s not a lot of speed signed on, so if there’s a runner that might be able to seize the early lead, they could easily get brave and keep on finding. I’ll try Delightful Dixie (#5) to be that horse for Mike Dini in her third career start. She was away slow in her debut at this distance at Monmouth, but she was moving well late. She was more aggressive going into the first turn in a two turn race in August. She faded badly that day, finishing last of nine. Madison Oliver might be able to use that aggression to her advantage tonight and get her out front in a race where no one seems to want to be on the lead. The short break and the class relief also could be beneficial. Noble Tess (#3) makes her debut for Kathleen O’Connell today. While her works aren’t great, there is some speed influence in her pedigree. This barn is very capable of popping with a first time starter and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Madeline Rowland ask her for speed early. On deeper tickets, I’ll back up with morning line favorite, Lexi’s Spirit (#6). Her figures fit well, but her running style and performances on the track against better fields have not been inspiring. She is getting significant class relief though, which could be enough. I’m guessing the value won’t be there though.
The third of three allowance races tonight is a state bred optional $30K claiming/N2R allowance race for three year olds and up, going 1 mile and 1/16. This is a race that has been canceled twice already at this meet due to poor weather. There’s many familiar faces in here, including the second, third, and fourth place finishers of the last race at this condition at Monmouth. What’s Up Mr. Z (#2) and Jesters Honor (#3) want to be involved early, so assuming they both get out of the gate cleanly, What’s Up Mr. Z should have the tactical advantage that Jesters Honor had in the last race. What’s Up Mr. Z has been very good since stretching out to route races this year. He drew off two starts back to clear the state bred N1X condition with ease. He followed that up with a solid third place finish at this level last month after stalking Jesters Honor. I think he gets the better inside trip and gets up tonight. One Time Willard (#5) is likely going to be lying in the weeds, just off the frontrunners here. I can see him tipping out for the stretch run, likely having to go three or four wide. He’s been just short when making that move in the last two starts, but he has beaten many of these in the past. He is often overbet a little bit, for a horse that has only won twice. However, he is good enough to be right in the thick of it with this group. I’ll use Jesters Honor as a saver in the multi-race bets, but he certainly figures to be a part of the vertical exotics. Of the longer prices, Pogi (#7) is the one that could be an upsetter. He is unproven at this distance on the turf, and he’s finished off the board in all three of his career grass races in sprints. However, his speed figures in those races are solid. He was recently claimed by Robert Falcone, who ran him three times at the end of the Monmouth meet. Toss his effort in the Charles Hesse Handicap where he was never involved. He was given a little extra time, especially with the cancellations. He’s a consistent runner that has 3 wins in 24 starts, but he has finished in the money in ⅔ of his career races. I’m not sure he can beat these, but I do think the public will be all over the top 3. If he goes into the gate at odds closer to 12-1, I’d be willing to risk a few dollars on him.
Monmouth at the Meadowlands Meet Statistics:
Top Pick Winners: 6/23 (26.1%) – $43.8/$1.90 ROI