After a warm and dry few days, the wet weekend trend continues in New Jersey. Three of the six possible days of racing at this brief meeting have already been lost to wet conditions and it’s going to be worth keeping an eye on the weather for both nights this weekend. I’d handicap these races for a good or yielding course. We do have a stakes race tonight as the Pinot Grigio for New Jersey bred fillies and mares is carded as the 4th race of the night. After a strong start, a name you won’t see for the remainder of the meet is Paco Lopez, who has been suspended for 30 days by the PA Racing Commission after failing to persevere on his mount, Ridin With Biden, in the Greenwood Cup last month. He is in front for the leading riding title at this meet right now with six wins.
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Exotics Menu|
|1||8||6,8,11||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|2||2||2,9||1,12||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|3||4||4||1,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The night starts with a state bred maiden special weight race at five furlongs. This race was brought back from last Friday and redrawn. It feels like it might be the right spot for Jersey Gregg (#8) to graduate from the maiden ranks. He’s a half to Amelia’s Wild Ride, who was a Grade 3 winner at this five furlong distance on the grass. His lone effort on this course last season was decent, finishing second at this level in his last start as a two year old. All three turf races this year have been at two turns, so the cutback in distance may be a welcome move. 7-2 (ML) feels like a fair number, but he has surrendered the lead in the stretch in three of his eight losses, so I will need some coverage in this one. Social D (#11) and Alpha Company (#6) are both interesting runners in this race. Social D hasn’t run a lick in his two career dirt races, but he wasn’t terrible in his line turf try when going two turns. Both Vesparo (#3) and Jersey Gregg finished a little more than six lengths in front of him that day, but I do think he’d be more competitive in a one turn race. Alpha Company made the lead in his turf debut last month at Monmouth. However, he faded when some more seasoned runners were asked the question. The dam’s other foal to race is a two-time winner on the turf, so there’s still reason to believe that he can move forward in his second try on the lawn. He was listed at 12-1 on the morning line last weekend, but is 6-1 to start tonight, with only one defection of note. I’d prefer a little bit of a better price on him, but I’ll still cover with him in this spot.
The state bred two year old races at this meet can be tricky, because many trainers are just looking for a race to give their horse experience before taking the winter off and gearing them up for a three year old campaign at Monmouth. There are also horses trying the turf for the first time because there’s not another dirt race for New Jersey breds until next May. There are 13 two year olds entered here where 12 will run. Summer’s Comin (#2) was entered last week against fillies but the weather forced Mike Dini to change plans. She comes into this spot after routing on the turf for the first time last month. Her dam did all of her racing overseas, but she has foaled a horse that was a multiple winner in turf sprint races. Another one of her foals to run was a winner at this distance on the Tapeta. She has improved over her four starts, and ran well enough when going one mile on the turf last time to make me think that she could be a factor at this level on the cutback. Wild Jaime (#9) makes his career debut for John Kimmel. He’s been working well enough in New York for a barn that is capable with firsters. The dam has produced two horses that have won in turf sprints and they’ve been competitive in their first races. Air Masque (#12) is an interesting debut runner for Ben Perkins. The dam was a winner at Monmouth in her debut in 2019. This is the first foal to run from that mare. Like Summer’s Comin’, she’s a filly facing the boys in this race. Air Force Blue was a debut winner, but he’s only hit with 3% of his debut winners on the turf. I like the outside post and I don’t see a super deep field for her. Perotto (#1) had the misfortune of drawing the rail here. He had trouble at the break in his debut and never really got to show off what he can do. Ferrer is a good gate jockey and he’s going to need to hustle him out of the gate to give him the best shot of winning here. 12-1 (ML) is more than fair, and if that number floats up, I could be convinced to get more involved.
A field of eight has been assembled for this $16K-$14K N2L claiming race going 1 mile and 1/16. Horses are coming in from five different racetracks for this one. Last year Son of Liberty (#4) ran here on a wet evening where the course was labeled soft. He went to the front end with Jairo Rendon and never looked back, drawing off to win by almost seven lengths and posting a monster 80 Beyer Speed Figure. He is following the same racing pattern as well, being unraced since February at Gulfstream. If they’re racing tonight, the conditions should be similar and looking at this field, I expect the results to be the same as well. He’ll be the focal point of most of my tickets tonight. My backups in this spot will be both Tapadine (#1) and Tap the Gavel (#7). Both are sired by Tapit and are looking to get back to some of their better form while dropping in class. Tapadine showed some ability with tougher foes in Texas on the turf. He was claimed and was entered over his head in a salty allowance race at Colonial. He didn’t show up to run that day and he wasn’t very good in the bullring at Charles Town in his most recent try. This feels like a spot where he could improve for his new connections. Tap the Gavel was very good at Monmouth last year but went to the sidelines for over a year. He struggled with starter allowance company last out at Delaware. He’s now in his third start off the layoff and he’s taking a significant drop in class. I think he’s running into a tough foe tonight, but he still makes a lot of sense today.
Race 4, The $65K Pinot Grigio Stakes:
The first of two stakes races carded for New Jersey breds at this meet is a five furlong sprint for fillies and mares. The two favorites, Roselba (#3) and Bramble Bay (#4) have a significant advantage over their seven rivals on paper. I’ll give Bramble Bay the narrow advantage over her rival. Robert Falcone claimed this seven year old mare for $62,500 at Aqueduct in the spring. She’s run three times since that race with her best finish coming in the Jersey Girl Stakes on the turf at Monmouth back in June. She shipped up to Saratoga for her last start when she faced a very salty field of optional claiming/N2X allowance runners, where she finished last of seven. This spot is significant class relief for her as she looks to win this race for a second year in a row (it was contested at Monmouth last year). Roselba led most of the way in this race last year until Bramble Bay caught her in the shadow of the wire. She ran two credible races this summer at Monmouth when facing open company on the turf. This race is the first and only stakes opportunity to sprint on the grass in state bred company. Her versatility is a plus, but I think Bramble Bay drawing directly to her outside gives her a slight tactical edge. Of the longer prices in this race, Bel Pensiero (#8) is the one that interests me the most. She stalked the leaders to score in her only career turf sprint when going this distance two back at Monmouth. She cleared the state bred N2X condition in her next start which was an off the turf race in the slop going one mile. This is a logical next step for this three year old Army Mule filly. She might not be quite ready to tackle the top two, but she’ll be a force in New Jersey bred races next year.
This $25K-$2K maiden claiming race is one of the more unusual conditions the racing office writes during this meet. All but one of the runners are entered with the $25K tag. Final Destination (#11) in the outside stall is entered for $20K. While I don’t love betting professional maiden types, especially as singles, I think Prince of Troy (#2) is the one to beat in this race. He’s taking a significant drop in class after hanging tough with some deeper fields at Monmouth the last two seasons. He just missed when he dropped in for a tag two starts back. Russell Cash brought him back to maiden allowance company where he finished a beaten third against a better field. He takes a bigger drop tonight and he should be forwardly placed in a race that lacks any true pace presence. This feels like the right spot for him to graduate. I’ll back up with Barry the Builder (#8), who is another runner that has had several chances to break through, but has come up short. He ran out of real estate when facing $16K-$14K maiden claimers last month at Monmouth. That was his first try for Mike Maker and his first start outside of New York. He certainly has the right to improve off that effort, however, the pace scenario is not ideal for him. Isaac Castillo is going to have to try to keep him a little closer to the pace than he was last out if he wants to score here.
The nightcap is a $7,500-$6,500 N2L claiming race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. This is a race that was brought back from last week, but the horse that I was really looking forward to betting in that spot did not re-enter. Bomberella (#4) was not a part of last week’s race, however, she is a new face that makes a lot of sense. She broke her maiden on a course that was labeled soft at Delaware back in July. While they often label courses soft that are closer to good or yielding in other jurisdictions, I do think the course that afternoon was definitely on the softer side as the final time for the $32K maiden claiming race was a good eight seconds off the track record. If they’re racing tonight, that’s the kind of course that I’m expecting to see, so knowing that she ran her best career race that afternoon goes a long way when backing her in a spot like this. Capture My Dreams (#3) feels like the logical alternative to the top pick in this race. Her lone win was a dominating effort on a good course on this course last October. She’s run four times this year, finishing off the board each time when facing tougher groups. There should be a little give in the ground, which should suit her well. On deeper tickets, I’d like to do a little better than 6-1 on Mystic Dreams (#5), but she is a logical player underneath in the vertical exotics, She likes to run on from the back of the pack and she’s proven to handle wet turf courses. Her overall record is not very good, which is why the 6-1 price feels light, even on the drop in class. At 12-1 or better, she starts getting into the playable category for me.
Monmouth at the Meadowlands Meet Statistics:
Top Pick Winners: 5/17 (29.4%) – $34.20/$2.01 ROI