Six more turf races are on tap tonight in East Rutherford, NJ. The rails were set at 17 feet for Friday’s card, but are set at zero tonight to allow for larger fields. The average field size is 9.8 runners per race, so there are plenty of quality wagering opportunities this evening. Horses coming from off the pace were certainly getting home last night. There were some aggressive early rides though, so I think the course was playing fairly overall.
|1||4||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|2||9||5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|3||1,4||10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 4
The early daily double starts off with a pair of 5 Furlong sprints. This one is for $5K claimers that have either never won three races or have not won a race in six months. While some also qualify under the N3L condition, everyone in the field qualifies under the non-winners of a race since April 1st condition. This feels like a spot to start the Jersey Shore 6 with an aggressive single. I like Big Hambone (4) quite a bit, shipping in from Maryland for this race. Only three of his 29 career starts have been on the grass, but all three were solid efforts. He sprinted on the turf for the first time last out and was caught late at Laurel when going 5 and ½ Furlongs. He has the best early speed of the bunch here, and he drops from open claiming company to the restricted level while also cutting back in distance. He finds a field of horses that don’t love to win and are generally one-paced. John Salzman has had a tremendous season, winning with 32% of his starters, including a win with his only starter at Monmouth, Mauvilus, who was a well-spotted closing day victor. Apprentice Rebecca LaBarre has only won with 8% of her mounts this year, but she has won with 27% of her rides for Salzman (3-11). I think this is his race to lose, and I’ll be making a decent win wager if he’s close to his 6-1 morning line figure.
Race 2: Top Pick: 9
The favorite looks tough in this $25K-$20K maiden claiming contest that starts the Pick-5 wager. Babagram (9) is a New York bred that debuted with state bred company for a $40K tag at Belmont back in June, despite being purchased for $180K. He improved in his second time out at the Spa at the same level. He looks like a horse where 6 Furlongs is going to be a bit too far for him on the turf, so the drop and cut back to 5 Furlongs makes a lot of sense here in his third career start. He has good tactical speed from an outward draw and looks to be classier than most of these. What’s Up Mr. Z (5) could be upset minded in his third career try on the grass. He made his first start of the year with $30K-$25K maiden claimers and he closed fairly well to be third that day at this distance. He stepped up to maiden special weight company two weeks ago and had a bit of an odd trip, getting shuffled back, but gaining some ground late. I think the move to Corrales as the pilot is an upgrade in this situation, and he could be the main threat to favorite in his third start off the layoff.
Race 3: Top Pick: 4
Fillies and mares that have never won three races go one mile while racing with a $7,500-$6,500 tag. This is the kind of race that Paco Lopez was winning regularly at Monmouth Park over the last few months. He gets the call on Successful Legacy (4) who looks very average in a field where there are no standouts. There is a complete lack of early speed in this race though. Successful Legacy has some tactical speed, but barring a bad start, or someone unexpected catching an absolute flyer out of the gate, she should be in the lead as they make the first turn. She’s not in the best form right now, which is a bit of a concern, but no one fits the pace profile of this race better than her, and she has the best jockey by leaps and bounds in the state on her back. Stefanie on Fleek (1) is the most likely contender to run her down. She’s been a respectable third in her last two races with multi-conditioned $16K-$14K claimers at Monmouth. She might have lost a step in her five year old season, so the drop in class is logical for this mare. Shang’s Sister (10) has been claimed for $7,500 in her last two starts and she gets back on the grass after some dirt tries at Monmouth. She has run better races on the turf, so I can see her taking a step forward in this race. She’ll need to navigate a trip, breaking from the ten hole here. If her odds float up over the 6-1 morning line, she’d be more enticing.
Race 4: Top Pick: 7
The last time Brushing (2) and Diamond Play (7) faced off, Brushing pulled the off the narrow upset at this $8K starter allowance level at Parx. Both are back in this spot today and both look like they could be tough tonight. While Diamond Play was defeated in that race two back, I think her overall turf form is very good. She just missed against New Jersey breds last out, and was very good in the spring on the turf at Gulfstream. She has four wins in 13 career turf starts and has hit the board in five others. She’s one that should benefit from a firmer course than what she saw last out. Brushing is likely to be in the back of the pack of early and flying home late. I think there could be enough pace pressure on Avenida Manana (3) in the first half of the race to ensure an honest pace. As long closers have a chance on this course, she’ll have a fighting chance to get up in the final furlong. Instinctive (6) is the lukewarm morning line favorite at 5-2, a figure that is likely influenced by the Paco Lopez premium that backers of his mounts are having to pay right now. She was claimed for $5K at Colonial two starts when she handily beat an overmatched field. Trainer Michael Moore brought her to Parx off the claim in a N1X allowance race on the grass there, where she surged late to win her second consecutive start. Looking at the PP’s from that race, I don’t feel that she was up against the strongest group for that condition, so I’m viewing this race as a bump up in class. She’s in good form, but 5-2 is a tough pill to swallow. I’ll plan to use her in the multi-race exotics and try to beat her in the verticals. Avenida Manana is the likely pacesetter, coming here off a gate to wire win with $12,500 starter allowance foes two weeks at Monmouth. Like, Instinctive, she enters this race off a two race win streak. She’ll definitely take money at the windows off her last effort, and I wouldn’t be shocked if bettors make her the post time favorite. However, closers were really struggling in the last few weeks at Monmouth and that may have aided her front running victory, where she earned a career top Beyer figure. I think there are horses inside and outside of her that could apply some pressure to make her job tougher. Horses that took pressure in the early stages of the races last night, struggled to hold on in the stretch. We’ll see if that trend continues with rails at zero tonight.
Race 5: Top Pick: 9
The featured race of the evening is a maiden special weight for three year olds and up at one mile. This will be the race where I’ll want the most coverage. The morning line favorite is a $2.1 million dollar colt, Beatbox (6), starting for Chad Brown. He’s never been on the turf before, so I’m already planning on being cautious with this one. He was last seen two months ago at Saratoga going 1 Mile 1/8 on the main track in a very good maiden special weight race there. The winner, Vindictive, is a Todd Pletcher trainee that went on to win a first level allowance at Saratoga in his subsequent start, and is likely stakes bound sooner than later. Pipeline was the runner up that day, and he came back to beat break his maiden at Saratoga in his next try in another salty maiden special weight at 7 Furlongs. Beatbox broke from post nine and was wide every step of the way, leading to his 4th place finish. He’s sired by Pioneerof the Nile, who has sired graded stakes winners on grass despite being best known for his dirt runners. His dam, Magical World, broke her maiden on the turf, so there’s reason to believe this pricy colt can succeed on grass. I’ll cover with him, but I’m looking for prices. Chad Brown sent out Desert Cowboy (9) in his debut where he was claimed for $40K at Monmouth. I thought he ran very well three weeks ago to get second behind Two Steppin’ Kluki, whose win may have been aided by a speed favoring course. David Nunn adds blinkers for his second start, and he drilled a 47:3 bullet work at Monmouth on the main track last week. I’m thinking he’ll definitely be forwardly placed, and can take a step forward in this wide open affair. Loved Again (7) debuts for Miguel Vera, who has good numbers with a limited sample of horses making their first starts. He is an Animal Kingdom colt that has been working well in the morning in Maryland. He certainly has a live look as a horse that could run a bit at first asking. Stash My Cash (5) is an interesting longshot that could be live in his turf debut. He paired his Beyers in his two starts on the main track. He goes back to two turns and tries turf, which may be a plus. His dam was 0-3 in three tries on grass, but she was competitive in all three starts. She was sired by Giant’s Causeway, so there’s some turf influence there. Trainer Jose Sanchez has won with 25% of his starters this year, so he’s clearly spotting his horses well. Magical Marriage (1) stretches out to two turns after three straight turf sprints at Monmouth. He’s been reasonably close in his last few, but he would likely be 8-1 or higher if any other jockey besides Paco Lopez was aboard. I do like the pedigree for two turns there, so he’s another one that I’d like to have covered if possible. On my deepest tickets, I’ll throw in Le Coste (3) who is moving up in class, but he does fit from a speed figure perspective. I think he’s more likely to hit to the board that cross the line first though. His three efforts this year for a tag have been respectable.
Race 6: Top Pick: 8
On paper, I think the nightcap, which is an open $6K-$5K claiming race for fillies and mares at 5 Furlongs, figures to be very formful. Eifs (8) was roughed up at the start with better at Laurel last out, which pretty much ruined her day from that point out. Prior to that, she had shown decent efforts at Colonial, Pimlico, and Penn National for Dale Capuano, while facing better foes. Running well at Penn National tells me that running at night is not an issue for her, and she lands Paco Lopez for her local debut. I think the outside draw will be advantageous for her, and I would feel comfortable being singled to this one if need be. If coverage is afforded, the other two shorter prices are worth a look. Canarsie Angel (3) starts for the Wayne Potts program trainer, Bonnie Lucas, while he serves out a suspension. She wasn’t great in her first start for Potts last out, but that was in an off the turf race, and her effort on dirt was better than what she’s shown on the main track in the past. There’s reason to believe she can move forward on grass. Paco Lopez opting to ride Eifs is a little bit telling though. Tuffgirlsdontcry (7) scratched out of an opening $7,500 claiming race at Monmouth last week when that race was moved to the main track. Her dirt effort three weeks ago was dull at Penn National, but her game is definitely sprinting on grass. She has four wins in 13 tries at this distance, and has hit the board five other times. She should be right in the mix as well.