Thoroughbred turf racing continues at the Meadowlands with a six race, Saturday night program. The rail on the turf course will be all the way in at 0 feet, as was the case on most Saturday’s last season. Five of the six races on last night’s card were won by the betting favorites. The course was labeled good and the times were on the slower side, possibly affected by a strong headwind in the stretch. Five of the six winners were forwardly placed, either on or near the lead early on. The lone closer to win was a class dropping favorite in a race that completely fell apart late. It’s hard to gauge if the course was favoring the front runners, if the headwind made things tough on closers, or simply if the winners were the best horses in their given races. The featured race tonight is the 4th, which is a N1X allowance contest for three year olds and upward, going 1 mile and 1/16. First post is set for 7:00 PM (ET).
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$10K maiden claiming fillies and mares sprinting five furlongs will get the party started at the Big M. G G’s Dark Star (#8) will get the nod from me while making her first start since April. She tried to go on turf in both of her first two career starts, but a wet course caused both races to be moved to the main track. Her efforts while facing better weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible either. She drops and will get to go on the turf for the first time. Chantal Sutherland is in town to ride for Jorge Delgado, who sends her out for the first time under his name. Gleaming Brutality (#9) is the morning line favorite and the one to beat in this race. She’s been forwardly placed in her last two turf starts, finishing second both times while sprinting with $16K maiden claimers in Virginia and Delaware. She’s well spotted to get the job done here, but the fact that she’s come up short in all five starts, gives me enough concern to make sure I’m covered with a few others in this one. Mob Mentality (#5) is an interesting price play in this spot. There’s no denying that her debut two weeks ago at Monmouth was awful. She was bumped pretty hard at the start in that state bred maiden special weight race and didn’t seem to show much interest after that. She’s sired by Bustin Stones, who has sired runners that are winning 18% of the time in turf sprints over the last five years. The dam didn’t do much on the turf, but one of her foals won on debut at the Meadowlands in a five furlong turf sprint. Jesus Cruz is a 20% trainer in 2022 and he has a strong ROI on turf. Little Jessie (#6) paired her Beyers in her last two starts in turf sprints at Monmouth. Her first start on grass three back was a disaster, but she’s shown that she has some ability. She’ll need to take another step forward here, and I think 4-1 (ML) is a little light. However, I do see her as a contender.
The Pick-5 gets underway with this $30K-$25K N2L claiming race for fillies and mares going one mile on the turf. Anador (#6) is the morning line favorite for Christophe Clement, making her first start since the beginning of July. I am wondering why she’s dropping in class though, as she showed a lot of potential last year and in the spring. She would have been one of the favorites, if not the favorite in the N1X allowance race on last night’s card. I’ll cover with her, but the drop in for a tag hints to me that she might not be at her best. Musamaha (#2) makes her fourth career start and her second career start on the turf tonight. She debuted on the dirt for Michael Pino with $16K maiden claimers at Parx back in May. She finished 4th that day in a sprint on the dirt and was claimed by Penny Pearce. She brought her back at the same level where she was a dominating winner going one mile on the main track. Pino re-claimed her, with the intention of getting her on the turf, seeing as how she is a daughter of Jack Milton. She caught a soft course at Penn National two weeks ago and ran a tiring third with optional claiming/starter allowance foes. She returns for a tag, but one that is higher than her claiming price two back. She should get a firm course this evening and I’m expecting an improved effort. Any Port (#3) was sharp on the drop in class when winning as the favorite at Monmouth with $16K maiden claimers last month. The runner up from that race came to break her maiden in her next try. Her three turf starts are all solid and I’m expecting that this Point of Entry filly will be able to improve in her third start off the layoff. Princess Blakely (#10) defected from a similar race last week at Monmouth when drawing Post 13. Drawing post 10 here isn’t much of an upgrade though. She is coming off a $35K N2L claiming race at Saratoga in July where she finished a decent third. Hector Diaz rides first call for Chad Brown in New Jersey and he is taking the mount tonight.
$7,500-$6,500 N2L claimers sprint five furlongs on the turf course here. Chief Reider (#3) is looking to rebound after a dull effort with conditioned $16K-$14K claimers last time out at Monmouth. He’s been a part of some very quick early paces in his last two starts at Monmouth. The trouble line said he bumped at the break, but I don’t think that action was the reason for his poor performance. He was looking very washed out on the track that afternoon. His race went off around 4:00 on a very warm day. He appeared to be getting out a bit and didn’t seem to like being in between horses. The temperature will be much cooler this evening, likely in the high 50’s or low 60’s when this race goes off. He’s been given a bit of time in between starts and gets some class relief for today’s effort. Andrew Wolfsont rides a decent amount for Kathleen DeMasi in PA, and he ended up on this one for the first time. He rode the morning line favorite, Champion By Design (#8) for Jamie Ness in his last start. I’m not sure if that means anything or not, but I think we’ll see a much better version of him tonight. Frozen Funds (#4) may offer some value in this spot, starting off at 10-1 on the morning for Michelle Hemingway. He has started seven times in his career, four on dirt, two on turf, and one on synthetic. One turf effort was awful, but he wasn’t seen for 10 months after that race, so that seems like an effort we can draw a line through. The other turf effort and the synthetic effort were not too shabby. He beat $25K maiden claimers at Gulfstream West back in November 2020 for his only career victory. He was 5th in allowance company in his only synthetic try, but that was a sharp field for that condition last October. He’s made two starts this year, both on dirt. He ran okay in the slop at Saratoga, but his fast track races in his career have been dreadful. He makes his third start off the layoff and gets significant class relief while getting back on the lawn. On deeper tickets, I’ll give a look to Merokee (#1), who appears to be the most willing closer in the group. I think he’s better suited for 5 and ½ or 6 furlongs, but neither of those distances are an option on this course. He was a nose behind Chief Reider two starts back when flying late to be 4th, beaten less than a length at Monmouth. He was a bit flat last out at this distance with better. He drops in class and will get the apprentice, Madeline Rowland, to ride. She’ll be tasked with timing her ride just right to try to catch the several speed threats in this spot.
The feature today is a N1X allowance race for three year olds going one mile on the turf. I’m trying to get a read on what to expect from the favorite, Ohtwothreeohfive (#1) in this race. He’s coming off back to back races where he’s outrun his long odds at Saratoga, finishing second in both. He was narrowly defeated by a Chad Brown runner at this level on August 13th, when going off at 28-1. He was sent off at 25-1 when he finished second to Wit in the Better Talk Now Stakes at the end of August. That one is a graded stakes winner for Todd Pletcher who ran a huge race in his second start on turf. He has only raced with three year olds, so this spot would be considerably easier than the $105K N1X allowance carded at Belmont at the Big A earlier in the day. Looking at other condition books, the opportunities for straight three year olds on the turf are dwindling on the East Coast, so perhaps Weaver is willing to forego the larger purses to try to get a confidence building win under his belt. Eric Cancel comes across the river to ride. I’ll use him on the A line, but I’m not willing to single him. I’m going to make Artie’s Angel (#5) the top pick here for Kelly Breen. I’ve liked his last few starts, while facing older foes. He recovered nicely from a poor start to get into third at this level when facing some sharp older runners at Monmouth last month. He was a winner with optional claiming/starter allowance company two back at Delaware. This three year old son of We Miss Artie has been improving over the summer and getting a field of just three year olds at this point in the season may be advantageous. On deeper tickets, Kingdom of Paws (#4) is a little bit interesting to me. He outran his odds when setting an aggressive pace two weeks ago in the 12 furlongs Presious Passion Stakes. He finished 5th, beaten 7 lengths that day, but was a stubborn foe when headed by some much classier foes. He may have found a new running style by trying to run like Presious Passion, aggressively on the front end. There isn’t a clear cut pace threat, so it’ll be interesting to see if Jairo Rendon, riding him for the first time, is offensively minded early. He’s 12-1 on the morning line, and if those odds float up, I’d be inclined to take a shot with him to win.
Conditioned $5K claimers sprint five furlongs here. I’ll look to the 10 year old gelding, Boppin Anda Weavin (#10) to pull off the upset upon returning to the turf. He’s been running even races at this level on the main track in Delaware and Maryland this year. He ran a lot of solid efforts with better runners on the turf in 2021. This will be the first time he’s been on the turf this year, and while he may have lost a step or two, he has races that would be very competitive with this group. I think a lot of the other runners are trending the wrong way, but I see some upside for him, and at 10-1, I think that’s worthy of an on top wager here. Gran Malbec (#9) is the logical and much shorter priced alternative. He is dropping in class after closing stoutly to almost nail the heavy favorite, Odramark, on the wire last out with open $12,500-$10,500 claimers. He started his career in 2019 with a dull effort on the dirt then 11 straight on the board finishes on turf, including a six race win streak in that span. However, after such a promising start, he hasn’t won a race since 2019. That’s a tough order to take on a favorite in this spot. I’ll cover with him because he does look faster than most in here.
The nightcap is a maiden special weight for two year old fillies going one mile. Eleven are entered, including two Chad Brown runners, Skyview Drive (#1) and Monetize It (#10). Of the two, I prefer Monetize It. Monetize It is sired by the Irish bred Lope de Vega. Chad Brown has debuted nine horses in turf route races sired by Lope de Vega. FIve of those runners were winners (56%) and two more hit the board. She’s been working well at Belmont, and while I’d prefer to see her debut at the Belmont at the Big A meet. However, the horses that Brown ran at Monmouth this year have been strong, especially the ones debuting in maiden special weight races on the turf. I’ll use her on top and back up with the second time starter, Selenaia (#5) for Jonathon Thomas. She was 8th in a roughly run maiden allowance race at the end of the Saratoga meet. Lasix is added for her second career try. She’s bred for the turf up and down, and I’d expect improvement after getting some serious education. I’ll play against the other Brown runner, Skyview Drive. As a sire, Justify has won with 3 of 13 runners to have run on the turf. However, his runners are 0-9 in route races and 3-4 in sprints. The grand dam is the champion mare, Memories of Silver, so there is definitely ability there. Trevor McCarthy taking the mount is a positive, but unless she’s getting hammered at the windows, I’ll be watching her this time.
How I’m Playing the Pick-5, $48 Ticket:
I found it tough to comfortably nail down a single in this sequence tonight. I like both Chief Reider (#3, R3) and Boppin Anda Weavin (#10, R5) quite a bit tonight. However, there are enough question marks there to make sure there is some semblance of coverage. I ended up leaving Kingdom of Paws (#4, R4) off of this ticket, but I will be doing a small backup ticket, using him as I do think he’s one of the more interesting longshots on the card with some definite boom or bust potential.