Monmouth at the Meadowlands Racing Preview – 9/29/23 – By Eric Solomon

Just a quick note that racing has been canceled for both tonight and tomorrow due to extreme rain in the area. We’ll try again next Friday night

As expected, the remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia forced the cancellation of last Saturday’s program. At the beginning of the week, the forecast was looking promising, however, predictions seemingly got worse for today as the week went on. There’s now as much as two inches of rain in the forecast for Friday, so I’ll update the post if indeed there is a cancellation. If they do run, the rails will be set at 0 feet, so as many as 12 horses will be able to start in each race, and the average field size for the card before scratches is 11.5 runners per race (not including the AE runners). First post tonight is at 7:00 PM (ET).


Race Top Pick A B C Exotics Menu
1 4 4 3 12 DBL, PK3, PK6
2 11 10,11 2,4 DBL, PK3, PK5
3 6 4,6,12 2,13 DBL, PK3, PK4
4 8 8 2,9 DBL, PK3
5 10 2,5,10 8 DBL
6 10 10 9


Race 1:

The night gets started with a $7,500-$6,500 N2L claiming race for fillies and mares, going 1 mile and 1/16. There’s a full field of 12 entered, and while I don’t love being overly aggressive in cheap claiming races, I think Saweetie Girl (#4) has a big shot in the opener. This is a field that is filled with one-paced runners, and she looks like she’s a solid lone speed candidate. She might be a bit overlooked in the wagering after a pair of dull efforts at Monmouth this summer. She was unable to keep finding when going nine furlongs on the turf in July against a significantly better field. She dropped in class and returned to the dirt and struggled in the final stages of that race, on a day where front end horses were not performing well on the main track. She drops again and moves to a course that has been kind to front end runners. I think she can put herself on an easy lead and avoid the traffic that many of her rivals are going to have to overcome when taking their shots at her in the lane. 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. Fast Mule (#12) is going to overcome a wide draw to beat this group, while making her first start since the middle of July. That race was her only career try on turf and she ran well, finishing a close second that afternoon. She has enough early speed to likely get herself into a spot just off the leaders. If she can avoid losing too much ground on the turns, she has a shot.


Race 2:

An overflow field of two year olds will go 1 mile and 1/16 in this $25K maiden claiming contest. Hoya (#11) comes in from Delaware after a pair of respectable efforts with maiden allowance types at Delaware. He handled a course labeled soft there two back in his debut when going five furlongs. His pedigree suggests that he’ll improve as the distances get longer, so I like him stretching out another furlong after finishing third when going 7 and ½ furlongs at the beginning of the month. Cathal Lynch has great numbers with two year olds in general and he’s won with 22% of his babies on the grass over the last five years. Arius (#10) is the likely frontrunner, coming in from Virginia for Brittany Russell. He finished second in both of his starts for her at this level at Colonial over the summer. He led in both races before getting run down in the late stages. He showed improvement last out and he’ll be tough to deal with if he can move forward off that effort. Dr Schuster (#4) has three career starts on his resume. He was 8th in his lone turf try at Monmouth when facing a decent maiden special weight field there. He dropped in for a tag and was a distant third in the slop last out. He drops again and gets back on the grass. His dam has foaled a winner in turf routes, so perhaps there’s some upside on this one. Johnny From Boston (#2) also has a turf route winner from his dam side. While his dam herself never won on the turf, she was competitive in her efforts on the lawn. He’s sired by Sky Mesa, who has gotten 11% winners in turf routes over the last five years. Falcone has good numbers with second time starts and I think he’ll appreciate the added distance in this one.

Race 3:

This is a $10K-$9K N3L claiming race for three year olds and upward, going 1 mile and 1/16. Like the first race on the card, this is a condition that typically is not carded on the grass at the regular Monmouth meet, so the horses coming out of turf races are generally getting a bit of class relief coming into this spot. There are a handful of runners that want to be forwardly placed in the early stages of this race, including the two runners that are most likely going to attract the most wagering attention, Restored Order (#2) and Daisy Bee (#12). Both runners are live in this spot, but this feels like the kind of race where something crazy could happen. I’m going to try the 30-1 bomb, Major Cam (#6) on top in his turf debut. He blew up the toteboard with a career best effort on the dirt with $7,500-$6,500 N2L claimers on the dirt two starts ago at Monmouth. Maddie Oliver rode him that day and she gets the return call tonight. Ramon Martin tried to get him on the dirt last out, but that race was washed off the turf. He was dull in the slop that afternoon, finishing last of 6. His sire Bodemeister gets 12% winners in turf route races and his dam foaled a two turn winner on the turf. I think he could sit just off the dueling frontrunners in this race and get first run on the closers if he’s good enough. At long odds, he’s worth a shot in this spot. Gonna Be Epic (#4) is another longer priced runner that could be worth using in this race. He’s run his best races where there’s a hot pace in front of him, and that is a definite possibility tonight. He finished about 2 and ½ lengths behind Restored Order when they met three starts back. He was making his first start off a lengthy layoff that afternoon and hasn’t been back on the grass since. He wasn’t terrible in his two dirt races after that. I think he’ll be more fit for his rematch with the favorite, who is likely going to be under pressure for most of the race. Daisy Bee (#12) got the worst of the draw, breaking from the far outside post in this race where she’ll be taking on the boys. They drew this card on Tuesday, and Sweezey tried to enter her at Laurel on Wednesday for a Saturday race. However, she is an AE for that spot, and if she did draw in, she’d be stuck on the outside there as well. Paco Lopez taking the mount all but guarantees she’ll go off at odds less than her 8-1 morning line. However, her best races are at two turns on the turf and if Paco can get her to rate kindly off the early leaders, she could sit the perfect stalking trip. Restored Order has gone a long time without wins, so getting him at the 5-2 morning line price feels like poor value. He wants to go early, but if he’s going to get a loose lead, he’s likely going to have to work to do so. He might just be better than these, so I do feel compelled to include him, but I’ll be trying to beat him in the vertical wagers. Pursuing Pace (#13) is the first to draw in off the AE list and he’s worth considering if he does get to compete. He’s one that will likely be rolling from the back of the pack. His number was put up via DQ two back after being forced to steady while making his run in the stretch. He’s be another runner that would benefit from an aggressive early tempo.

Race 4:

Open $12,500-$10,500 claimers are going 1 mile and 1/16 here. While this is typically a very competitive condition in New Jersey, I think this race is likely going to be won by the favorite, Graded On A Curve (#8), with Paco Lopez riding. He finds himself in a field where several of his competitors are not in very good form. Many of them would have been able to compete with him earlier in their career, and I guess there’s always the hope that one could wake up with the change in scenery here. However, this seven year old Noble Mission gelding was an easy winner when breaking from Post 11 at this level last month at Monmouth. Paco Lopez rode him for the first time that afternoon, and got him to show a little more early speed than he had been showing in his previous efforts. He stalked the pacesetters and came forward with a powerful three wide bid, drawing clear to win by two lengths. The third palace finisher from that race, came back to win in his subsequent start and this field feels like it lacks the depth that race had. He’ll likely be even money or less, but I don’t see anyone good enough to beat him at the moment. Continental Divide (#2) and Monarchs Glen (#9) are the two that are most likely to pick up the pieces if the favorite falters in this spot. Continental Divide takes a significant drops after a poor effort with $25K claimers at the Spa two months ago. He has only one win in eleven career turf starts, so this might not be his best surface. I’ll be looking to see if he’s on his toes when warming up on the track. He’s best when he’s involved early on. There’s not a ton of speed signed on here which doesn’t help Monarchs Glen. If he had a little more tactical speed, I’d consider using him more, however, his running style doesn’t really fit well with this group on paper. It’s been a long time in between wins for him as well. I don’t think he’ll be a long enough price for me to think about using him to win, but he’d be a backup candidate on some saver tickets in the multi-race wagers. 


Race 5:

This state bred maiden special weight contest might be the right spot for Jersey Gregg (#10) 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 (#2) and Alpha Company (#5) are both listed at 12-1 on the morning line and both are 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 (#4) 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. On deeper tickets, I’ll also include Sunnyridge Jaime (#8). She was very good when finishing 4th, beaten only a length with open maiden special weight fillies three starts back. She ran into a buzzsaw two back when going back to state bred maiden allowance company. Toss her latest effort where she had a rough trip. Her dam has foaled a runner to win at this distance. 


Race 6:

I’ll try to escape the nightcap, which is a $10K maiden claiming sprint, using only two runners. Gabagool (#10) makes his third career start and his first on the grass for Anthony Margotta. He finished off the board in his debut at two turns on the dirt against a strong field back in June. He resurfaced in August, running last of six in an off the turf maiden special weight race in the slop. He has been gelded since that last start and now takes a steep drop into maiden claiming company. His sire, Ransom the Moon, gets 11% winners with turf sprinters and his dam has produced multiple winners, sprinting on the turf. There’s enough upside there for me anywhere near his 12-1 morning line figure. Leo Fong (#9) is the logical alternative, getting back on grass after a slow effort with $10K maiden claimers when sprinting on the dirt last out. The top three runners from that race all came back to win in their next starts. That race wasn’t as bad as it looks on paper as Maddie Oliver stopped asking him once it became apparent that he wasn’t going to finish ahead of the top three in that four horse affair. He has some early speed and his lone turf effort in New York was solid enough to back him in this spot at the right number. I do fear that he’ll be bet down below his 7/2 morning line figure. I do think he’s more enticing than the 5-2 morning line choice, Moonflyer (#2), who I’ll be trying to beat in this spot..


Monmouth at the Meadowlands Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners: 5/17 (29.4%) –  $34.20/$2.01 ROI

To the surprise of no one who has been paying attention to New Jersey racing over the past decade, Paco Lopez has been the talk of the meet. He’s ridden two of the three nights so far, winning with 6 of 10 of his mounts, and hitting the board with three more. He is named to ride in all six races tonight and he’s on many live mounts, However, there should be spots to take your swings against him.


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