The 10 day Monmouth at the Meadowlands meet gets underway with a six race Friday night program in East Rutherford, NJ. This partnership between Monmouth and the Meadowlands allows 60 extra turf races to be carded. Since the main track is still prepared for harness racing, there will be no races taken on the turf. If the course is not suitable for racing, the program will either be postponed or canceled. Large fields and wide open races are generally the hallmarks of this meet, and tonight’s program certainly fits that description. The rails tonight will be set at 17 feet, limiting the number of starters to 10 horses per race. First post is set for 7:00(ET) on a cool and dry September evening.
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Exotics Menu|
|1||1||1,4||9||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|2||8||6,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|3||9||2,9,10||1||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The first contest of the meet is a New Jersey bred maiden special weight race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. The races at this distance at the Meadowlands start at the top of the stretch as opposed to the turf chute that Monmouth uses. There is absolutely no early speed signed on for this race. Baby Cakes (#3) is the most likely pacesetter, but she’s shown no indication in her last several starts that she’d be capable of taking this field gate to wire. I’m thinking that Lookingfortreasure (#1) will be closer to the front end than she was in her last start. She broke through the gate prior to the start of the race last time out, and perhaps that knocked her off her game in the early stages of that race. She did make a nice move to put her in contention on the turn, however, she was unable to go with the top two. She’s making her 4th career start and her speed figures have improved with each start. Desert Passion (#4) was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in that same race. She broke well and settled in behind horses coming out of the chute. She stumbled just after crossing the finish line for the first time, causing her to fall back and lose early ground. She progressed well down the backside but leveled off, fading to 6th. Her effort two back was strong, and I’d be willing to forgive her last try. Duchess of Destin (#9) is the other logical player in this group. She made a powerful run to take the lead in the same common race that the others are coming out of. However, the winner was going better late and pulled off to win by two lengths. She was best of the rest that afternoon, finishing second. I do worry that she’ll be overbet in this spot, and I think she could be a bit vulnerable. She regressed two starts ago after running a big effort in her prior start. She ran a career top figure last time around, so if she follows that same pattern, she could be due for a down effort. She’s drawn wide, so getting the right trip is going to be critical for her as well. She’s too good to eliminate completely at this level, but if she’s attracting too much pari-mutuel attention, she’d be worth trying to beat.
Eight fillies and mares will go five furlongs in this $20K-$18K N3L claiming race. I think The Sweaty Fox (#8) is interesting from her outside draw in this race. She might be overlooked in the wagering because she is 0-7 on the turf, never finishing in the money once. However, six of those seven efforts were all contested at two turns, while all of her best work has come on the dirt when sprinting. She was wrangled off the pace in her lone turf sprint, but she was flying home late in time be 4th, beaten less than two lengths. She’s shown more early speed of late, and her pedigree suggests that she’ll be okay on the turf. I like the move to bring her here and I think she’s an upset candidate in this spot. The other major contender in this spot is Ben’s Sunny Island (#6). She is moving up in class, but she finds a fairly soft field for this condition tonight. She is coming off a productive Monmouth meet where she ran four times, winning once, finishing second twice, and finishing 4th, beaten only one length in those races. She just missed in her last try at this distance and she has a running style that should be advantageous for this race.
This $25K-$20K maiden claiming race for two year fillies is a bit of a head scratcher. Mike Dini has a pair of debut runners, both of which that I’ll be using in this spot, but I’m leaning toward Shamu (#9) as the top pick. She’s from the freshman crop of the stallion Funtastic, who was an upset winner of the 2018 United Nations at Monmouth, however, his runners have had some success sprinting on the turf early on. The dam was a two time winner on the turf, both of those races at two turns. There’s reason to believe that this filly will want to go longer, but she won’t have to be much to beat this group. Samuel Marin finished the Monmouth Park meeting well, and I think that him getting the mount over Mattie Martin, who rides Dini’s other filly, Platinum Diva (#1) is another plus. Byrd of Eden (#2) cuts back to a sprint after going two turns in her last two starts. She tired late in both of those races. She’s had trouble in spots in those races, all of which were facing maiden special weight company. While she wasn’t facing any world beaters in those races, she’s facing even softer tonight. Unseen (#10) is the morning line favorite and the one that will likely take the most money, especially with Paco Lopez in the saddle. She was the runner-up to Camila T., who decimated a maiden special weight field at this distance two starts back. She seemed to have no interest in going two turns last time out, fading badly with a favorable trip. The drop in class and cutback feels like a logical choice for Jose Camejo, who is trying to wipe away the bad taste in his mouth from a disappointing Monmouth meet where he only won one race. I’ll also include the other Dini firster, Platinum Diva on some tickets. She’s been working in company with her stablemate, but she’s had some gaps in her training. His sire, Treasure Beach, has 10% winners in turf sprints over the last five years, but he only gets 5% winners on debut. The dam foaled a stakes placed runner at this distance and another one of her foals won at first asking.
The featured race is an optional $20K claiming/N1R allowance race for New Jersey bred fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. For the most part, most of the runners in this field have been facing each other, taking turns finishing in front of one another with breaking through. Perspicacious (#6) ran last week against N2X state bred optional claiming allowance types last week in a race that was originally scheduled to be on the turf. She ran in the slop and was a nonfactor that day. She has been facing better horses in her previous turf starts, running credible races, but finishing off the board. She’s an eight year old mare that has won her last two starts at this level. She gets Paco Lopez, who figures to be riding some short prices tonight. She feels like the most likely winner of this race. She’ll be short odds, so you’ll likely need to find a way to create value though.
The Late Double begins with a $7,500-$6,500 N2L claiming race going 1 mile and 1/16 on the grass. Monmouth doesn’t card races on the turf at claiming tags this low so everyone that entered is essentially dropping in class. I’ll try Fire King (#7) in this race for Jose Camejo, coming off a strong effort with $16K-$14K N2L claimers last out. He went to the front and led most of the way before being caught at the top of the stretch, He battled gamely to hold third that afternoon, finishing a length behind Tap the Candy (#5) that afternoon. He’s had more dirt experience than turf experience, and despite winning his only race on the main track, I think his turf efforts have generally been better. He makes his third start off a layoff and may offer the best value in the field if he stays around his 8-1 morning line figure. Tap the Candy figures to get a cozy trip, likely sitting midpack, not too far off the pace. He was awful last week, but he does draw a better post for the quick turnaround. Both short prices on the morning line, Peja Du (#2)and Larger Than Life (#9) are both logical players in this one, although I will proceed with caution for both. This drop feels a bit unnecessary for Peja Du, who has three strong efforts in a row in Delaware and Maryland. He’s a lightly raced three year old that gets Paco Lopez in the saddle. I just think that he could be competitive against slightly better fields for a slightly better purse and a higher tag. That makes me wonder if he’s not showing the right signs in the mornings. Larger Than Life ran last week where he was 5th. He has put up the best figures in the race, but he often leaves himself with too much work to do.
The night will wrap up with a $10K maiden claiming contest for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. Never So Lucky (#1) is the morning line favorite, but her last effort was not good. I don’;t love that she drops in class in her second start off the layoff as well. I’ll take another lightly raced runner with a more palpable price. Deston for Drama (#4)makes her third career start for trainer Michelle Castillo. While she doesn’t have great numbers with horses switching surfaces and horses coming off layoffs, I do think we’ll see this filly look more like the horse that was third behind a pair of runaways at Parx back in JuneToss her last race in an off the turf race at Parx and she fits with these. Belleshazza (#11) will need a defection in order to participate, but if she does draw in, she’ll be tough to beat. She’s a professional maiden making her local debut after a series of races against better maiden claimers in New York. I do see her being appreciative of the class relief if he runs. College Try (#9) might have gone off form in her last start. She ran two strong races prior to that at Ellis. However, she was six lengths better than the top pick when they last met. I have some mixed feelings about her, so she’ll be on the B line. She may be the designated candidate to put some token pressure on Shaymyname (#3), who is making her first since June. She’s another one where the turf tries are generally better than the dirt ones. She’ll need to step up, but the pace scenario could work to her advantage.