The 9 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 54 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 featured race is the nightcap, which is a N1X allowance contest for three year old fillies going 1 mile and 1/16. 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||10||10||1||7||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|2||3||3,6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|3||7||4,7,9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The meet will get underway with a five furlong $25K-$20K maiden claiming contest for two year old fillies. There’s many ways to go in this race, but I’ll try for a price and go with the first time starter, Delightful Ava (#10), in the outside stall for Kent Sweezy. She’s been working steadily at Monmouth for her debut, and while her drills are nothing special, I do like her pedigree for a turf sprint. She’s sired by multiple graded stakes winner, Bucchero, who is off to a good start at stud so far. He’s sired five winners from 32 starters so far with 56% of his runners finishing in the money. Four of his five winners have come on the main track, while a 5th one won on the synthetic surface at Gulfstream. Only one of his 32 starters has run on the turf so far, and that one finished off the board in a salty 6 and ½ furlong allowance race at Kentucky Downs. I’m not worried about that stat though, since there aren’t tons of opportunities for two year olds on the turf at this point in the year. She is the first foal to race from the dam, Scurry, who never raced on the turf, but she won her last three career starts, all coming in her only three races on the synthetic course at Golden Gate. I like that the apprentice, Jose Gomez takes the mount, and at 8-1 or better, I think she’s worth a win wager with this group. Spoils of War (#1) ships in from Saratoga and drops out of state bred maiden special weight company for her second career try. She’ll get Lasix for her second start after finishing 8th, beaten five lengths in her debut. A slight improvement from that effort will likely make her tough in this group. I’d be surprised if she wasn’t sent off at odds lower than her 4-1 morning line figure, and the rail might not be an ideal draw for her. I’ll be using her, but her price will dictate how involved I’ll get. Whatchamacall (#7) has shown some decent speed in her three career dirt starts, fading late in all three. She’s moving out of restricted maiden special weight to maiden claiming company while also switching to the turf. Delgado has good numbers with turf sprinters, but not so much with horses trying the turf for the first time. I think her speed is a dangerous weapon with this group, but again, 3-1 feels light with this wide open group.
New Jersey bred fillies and mares go 1 mile and 1/16 in this optional $20K claiming/N1R allowance race. The nine year old mare Postino’s Idol (#3) might have some tactical advantages over the other runners in this field. She ran on closing day at Monmouth in the Pinot Grigio Handicap last week, but she lost all chance at the start with a stumble out of the gate. She wants to be forwardly placed, which, historically, has not been a bad thing on this course. She was a winner here last year at this level and ran strong races in both of her local starts. Apprentice rider, Jose Gomez, has been riding very well in New York and New Jersey over the last several weeks and he’ll get the call this evening. Kitten’s Collusion (#6) is the main danger, coming off a race where she finished first at this level was disqualified for drifting in an interfering with Postino’s Idol in her last try. She’s an improving three year filly, so the upside is there for this daughter of Kitten’s Joy. She ran competitive races on the turf with open company earlier in the year and should be very tough with this group. I do worry that her odds will be very short though.
$10K maiden claiming fillies and mares travel 1 mile and 1/16 here. Blue Kentucky Girl (#4) and Wi Fi (#9) should take the bulk of money at the windows here and for good reason. They appear to be the fastest fillies in this bunch. Blue Kentucky Girl makes her second start off the layoff and will likely be on the lead, with Paco Lopez trying to nurse her speed all the way. She was a decent second in her return with $16K maiden claimers last out at Delaware. Wi Fi comes in from Colonial after finishing 4th beaten only two lengths at this level of competition. Her Beyer Speed Figures are consistently in the high 50’s which certainly looks like a number that many in this race will be hard pressed to hit. She, too, likes to be close to the front. Both are very logical and I could easily see them finishing 1-2 in this race. I’ll definitely use both on the A line, but I’ll try to beat them with Jackie B Good (#7) on the drop in class for Daniel Velasquez. Velasquez hasn’t had a winner in the last two years on the turf, going 0-30 in that span. As a result, I’ll demand value on this daughter of Khozan. Her two turf races at Parx were solid though, finishing 4th in June and 2nd in July. However, her two turf races at Monmouth and Delaware were not nearly as good. If she takes to the local course, she could be a threat to win this race at nice odds. She is a candidate to be closing, which could be a plus if the two favorites decide to go after each other early on in the race.
$7,500-$6,500 N2L claimers go 1 mile and 1/16 here. This is one of the more wide open races on the card. The morning line favorite is Super Wicked Charm (#9) shipping in from Saratoga and plummeting in class. He definitely fits on figures with this group, but he’s not without some notable risk. He’s drawn a wide post and hasn’t won a race in a long time. His last and only win came before the COVID pandemic on 1/23/20. That came in a very slow race on the dirt at Aqueduct. He dropped down to face this level of competition last year on this course and finished a close up 3rd, when breaking from a better post. I’ll back up with him underneath, but this is a tough horse for me to play on top. I’m going to roll the dice and use a 20-1 longshot, Right on Q (#8) on top in this race. His lone turf start came in a sprint when making his first start off a lengthy layoff. That race was not very good, but it was no worse than his two prior dirt starts. He’s clearly a better horse at two turns, breaking his maiden on the dirt last September. is Two of his three starts this year haven’t been great, but I’m thinking this son of Big Brown might be able to improve with a forwardly placed trip while routing for the first time on the turf. Wizard Serrat (#4) was dull last out when facing winners for the first time in a nine furlong race at Monmouth. That was one of the deeper fields for the conditioned $16K-$14K (N2L) races over the summer, with the top two finishers winning in their next starts. His maiden score two back was solid though, and picking up Paco Lopez for the first time won’t hurt his chances. Lagerfeldt (#7) will be facing winners for the first time tonight after beating $10K maiden claimers in his most recent start at Colonial Downs. He’s a consistent type that has run several turf races that would get him close with this group. Kathleen O’Connell does have very good numbers with horses that won their last starts (26% since 2021).
The late double will start with an open $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. Many runners in this race are coming from restricted claiming races and moving into open company for the first or second time. Pugilist (#4) feels like a logical single in this race. She has been consistently facing tougher foes, and running credible races. She came up empty in starter allowance company last out when making her first start for Carlos David. Two starts back she faced a deep field at this condition at Monmouth and drew off to win by 3 and ½ lengths. There’s a dedicated front runner breaking from the rail, Donya’s Magic (#1), which should allow Pugilist to sit the perfect trip rating behind that one. The one I’ll back up with is Gold Rush Kizzie (#6) getting back on the turf today after running poorly in a pair of off the turf races in Pennsylvania. She ran a solid race in her seasonal debut in June on the grass which was the last time she ran on the lawn. Her 2021 form makes her a credible threat with this group.
The class of this race appears to be Frippet (#6) making her first start since July for Jonathon Thomas. She is getting back on the turf after coming up short on the dirt at this level at Monmouth. Her lone career try on the grass was a strong second place finish in a maiden special weight contest at Keeneland back in April. The winner and third place finisher also came back to win in their subsequent starts. She is a threat to go to the front and try to take this group all the way. There’s not really another serious speed threat in this spot, making her a tough one to play against. Maxine Machine (5) makes her second start since being claimed by Douglas Nunn at Colonial last month. She was second in her last start on a good course at Delaware in a race won by a runaway winner. She was competitive at this level on the grass at the Fair Grounds over the winter, and she figures to be dangerous in this spot if she takes to the local course. Luna Antonia (#7) is looking to rebound from a dull effort with conditioned allowance types last month at Monmouth. She was facing winners for the first time that day and that field was deeper from top to bottom than this group. Her previous races since being claimed by Terri Pompay were competitive on the turf in Florida and New Jersey. Michael Matz sends out a pair of maiden winners at Penn National, Lady Outofthe Blue (#3) and Night Command (#8). Both are installed at 5-1 on the morning line, but I definitely prefer Night Command despite the wider post. Night Command beat Lady Outofthe Blue on the square, despite a bad start, when both made their debut on 8/5. Lady Outofthe Blue came back to beat maiden claimers while entered with the Pa Bred waiver three weeks later. Night Command has not run since, but certainly looks like she is capable of a stronger effort in start number two. Matz doesn’t race many horses in New Jersey, but he opts to have Hector Diaz, who rides first call for Chad Brown at Monmouth, ride this daughter of Will Take Charge tonight.
How I’m Playing the Pick-5, $36 Ticket:
My main ticket is going to be based on Pugilist (#4, R5) being the most likely winner in the sequence. I think this mare is a solid single while getting some serious class relief. She was a handy winner against a better field two starts back at this same condition. I see Jackie B Good (#7, R3) and Right on Q (#8, R4) as interesting longshots that could cause the sequence to blow up if they hit. While I like Frippet (#6, R6) quite a bit in the nightcap, I see the feature race as a wide open contest where I’ll opt to spread out.