It’s looking like a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend at the Jersey Shore with sunny skies and temperatures forecasted in the mid to high 70’s today. There’s a 12 race program to kick off the first three day race week of the week. The feature is the 11th race, which is the Cliff Hanger Stakes, a race that used to be run at the Meadowlands many years ago. There’s a competitive 10 horse field entered there, along with a pair of main track only runners. Post time is 12:15 this afternoon.
I’ll be covering the Monmouth Park meet for the second straight year on the ITM Blog, along with posting some updates and thoughts from time to time on Twitter @EricSolomon718. Feel free to reach out!
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Exotics Menu|
|2||6||4,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|7||7||7,8||2,5||1||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|8||4||2,4||8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|9||3||3||6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The day starts with $40K-$30K maiden claiming fillies and mares going six furlongs. I think R Funny Bizness (#7) is the one to beat in the opener. She’s hit the board in her first three starts at Tampa, including a solid third place finish with maiden special weight types there last month. The top two finishers of that race came back to win in their next start, with the winner beating an optional claiming/allowance field downstate at Gulfstream. Samy Camacho should be able to work out a decent trip from the outside post. Princess Lean (#4) seems to be the main rival, making her third start off the layoff today, and her 4th start overall. She met a runaway winner in maiden allowance company two weeks ago on this oval. She is improving and should benefit from getting Paco Lopez aboard. Smarty Pants Sandy (#1) is an interesting runner that is likely to be overlooked in the wagering, especially since she is making her 11th career start. However, she is gradually improving and she’s getting a bit of a class relief while dropping back to maiden claiming company after three straight tries in maiden special weight races at Parx. Robert Mitchell is an under the radar jockey that doesn’t get a ton of mounts, but he rides his tail off, and is especially confident when riding here. I think she’s more likely to hit the board than win, but I do think she’s worth covering. On deeper tickets, keep an eye on Moving in Stereo (#6), making her debut for Darien Rodriguez. She has been working well enough here and at Tampa for her first start in the afternoon. Rodriguez is off to a slow start at the meet so far, however, if this runner takes some play, or is well backed by the fixed oddsmakers (those odds are provided on the track feed on the left hand column), she might be worth upgrading.
Rocky’s Buckaroo (#6) is the choice in this open $5K claiming sprint. He comes in off a win with time-restricted claimers at Tampa in his last start. Despite moving up in class, he finds a soft field for this condition, and a field that isn’t very fast early on. He should be able to clear this group with a clean break. I don’t see many others in this field that are as suited for this 5 and ½ furlong distance as he is. He’s won 40% of his races in his ten career tries when going this distance. Flipping Fish (#4) is the other logical player in here. He ships in from Gulfstream for Kelly Breen after beating $6,250 conditioned claimers last out. I guess that win affords the drop to a $5K tag in spite of being claimed for $20K three starts ago. He’ll be a short price and one that I’ll definitely use on the multi-race bets, but I still am a little suspicious of him in this spot.
The first race on the grass today is a N1X allowance race for three year olds and up going 1 mile and 1/16. If the early speed numbers from Big Venezuela (#6) translate to turf, there should be an honest pace on the front end with Ricochet (#1), Tetragrammaton (#7), Magical Marriage (#8), and possibly Leo Monte (#9) all signed on and all liking to be forwardly placed. That should allow Ghost Giant (#4) to sit a great trip in behind the early leaders in this race. This New York invader started his career at Presque Isle Downs and has spent most his time on the NYRA circuit since. The majority of his wins have come when facing New York breds, but for the most part, he has held his own in open company and the fields that he has faced at the open N1X level has been far superior to this field. He’s second off the layoff and far more consistent than the morning line favorite, Future Victory (#3), sent out by Todd Pletcher. I’d be comfortable using him as a single in the early sequences. I’ll cover with both Ricochet and Future Victory on some saver tickets, however, both horses have some warts that make me nervous about taking short odds on them. Ricochet makes his first start in two months, and he’s been a horse that has had some gate issues that have gotten in his way in the past. I do appreciate the effort he put in last time out when he missed the break and still closed a decent amount of ground to be 4th, beaten less than two lengths. There are others that will likely be coming for the lead from their outside posts, but if he can be quick enough, he has rail position, and could try to catch a backside breather if he can dictate the terms. Future Victory is more of a deep closer that seems to find trouble wherever he goes. He has two wins in two of his cleaner trips, but both of those races were against lesser runners, winning a $50K maiden claimer at Gulfstream and a $50K starter allowance at Belmont last year. His return race was solid enough, and coupled with Paco Lopez getting the mount, I can’t completely ignore this one.
After going skinny in the last two legs of the Win-Early Pick-5, I think this conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 70 yards, is a race to spread out. I’m hoping that Blind Sight (#3) can get the job done while going two turns for the first time in her career. She’s bred by Belmont winner, Palace Malice, out of a Bluegrass Cat mare. Bluegrass Cat who was the runner up in the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes, and the Travers, and the winner of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on this oval. I expect that he’ll be more competitive at this trip based upon his respectable efforts in 1 mile and 1/16 turf races at Belmont last year. She ran better races when she was trained by Mike Dini, and he takes over today. Maarty’s Dilemma (#4) is one of a few three year old fillies in this race with a live look. She broke her maiden two starts back at Tampa, and followed that effort up with a fast closing second place finish with $20K claimers. She’s a horse that looks like she continues to improve on the racetrack with each start. Another three year old filly worth considering is Imagine the Mojo (#6), coming in from Laurel for Mike Trombetta. She’s the only two time winner in the race, earning back to back wins in Maryland in lower level claiming races. She was a little flat last out when facing open company at the $16K-$12.5K claiming level last out, however, that was a one turn mile. I think she can build off her efforts two and three back, however, I’m not certain if it will be enough to beat some of these. Sudden Impulse (#1) is the morning line favorite that I consider using as well. She was running credible efforts in longer one turn races at Aqueduct before coming here for Amira Chickalky. She’s also sired by a Belmont winner (Union Rags), so I’d suspect she’ll handle the longer distance and the extra turn.
Conditioned $16K-$14K claimers go 1 mile and 1/16 out of the turf chute in the last leg of the Early Pick-4 and Pick-5 wagers. There are several three year olds entered against their older counterparts in this race but everyone who entered qualifies under the N2L condition. Let’s roll the dice on the 20-1 longshot, Double David (#2), who may offer some decent value while making his first start for trainer and owner, Rafael Schistl. He has won 21% of his races in 2022, and his numbers with both new acquisitions and horses off the layoff are solid. The horse is making his first start since February after three poor efforts on dirt at Tampa and on synthetic at Turfway. His last two races on turf were solid though, breaking his maiden at Parx with $16K maiden claimers and finishing second at the Meadowlands with $7,500-$6,500 N2L claimers. He’s a four year old that is running for a better barn, so improvement isn’t unrealistic. I think he’s live in this race. Sir Saffer (#1) stopped to a walk in his last start against optional $32K claiming/$32K starter allowance company at Tampa while facing straight three year olds. His two prior starts on the grass were solid though, showing vast improvement. He wants to be forwardly placed, so the rail draw should be favorable for him. I’ll wager that this modest Florida bred can rebound on the drop in class. Corrado (#11) makes some sense from his outside post in this race. He ran 4th last month at Gulfstream when facing $35K-$25K conditioned claimers when making his first start on grass. A decent effort from Tetragrammaton in the 3rd Race would flatter him, as that one was second in that same race last time out. His only win came with maiden special weight company last year at Pimlico in a race that was taken off the turf. This seems to be the right level for him at this point in his career.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 PLAY:
Up until the last leg, this sequence has a chalky feeling to it, but I think Double David (#2, R5) is an interesting longshot that has the potential to blow up the toteboard in a wide open 5th race. To hopefully get myself alive to him and two others in that race, I’ll need my single, Ghost Giant (#4, R3) to get home in the third race. My hope is that Future Victory (#3, R3) will take more money, based on his connections (Lopez/Pletcher). However, I just don’t trust that horse.
I do like Bourbon Frontier (#1) quite a bit in this optional $25K claiming/N2X allowance race. He ran 5th with a very salty $50K starter allowance field at Oaklawn on closing day. He was ridden by a 10 pound apprentice, Jeremy Alicea that afternoon. Alicea certainly earned his shot to ride in a race like that after showing some definite promise at the end of the meet in Arkansas, however, like in any sport, rookies can be prone to rookie mistakes. I think that’s what happened last out when things got tight for him just after the break, and he had to take up. Bourbon Frontier was fighting him and he pulled himself up to the lead, while going very fast in the second quarter mile. Ultimately, he faded to 5th against better horses that afternoon. While it looks like a rise in class on paper, he’s definitely getting class relief. I think he’s the most likely winner. Meru (#2) does intrigue me a bit in this race for Colts Neck Stables and Jorge Duarte. He’s been starting and stopping a decent amount in his career, but he showed a ton of promise as a two year old. Duarte tries him at two turns for the first time in his career, which may suit him well. He hasn’t won since 2019, but I haven’t quite given up on this Sky Mesa gelding just yet, and neither have his connections, as he continues to race in protected spots.
We’re back on the grass with a $16K-$14K maiden claimer for fillies and mares to the start of the Jersey Shore-6. There are eleven three year old fillies in the body of the field, with only one four year old, Pop Pop’s Baby Boo (#12) entered as an also-eligible. No Mo Dancing (#7) and Bella Cascata (#8) are coming out of a common $32K maiden claiming event at Tampa, where Bella Cascata finished third, about five lengths better than No Mo Dancing. No Mo Dancing was making her career debut for Brenda McCarthy, who has won with two of her last four horses making their second career starts. I think this filly also has a slightly better grass pedigree than the morning line favorite, so with the large odds disparity (12-1 on No Mo Dancing as opposed to 3-1 on Bella Cascata) I’d be willing to wager that No Mo Dancing can make up those five lengths in this race. Both fillies are dropping in class, so I’d also include Bella Cascata on my multi-race wagers, in what feels like an absolute spread race. Exculpate (#2) is another interesting price horse, trying the turf for the first time. I believe this will be trainer Lindsay Schultz’s first career starter on grass. She claimed this filly who hasn’t done much on dirt at Oaklawn in her last start. I do like horses sired by Blame when trying the turf, and Isaac Castillo taking the mount is intriguing. Schultz popped with some decent priced horses over the winter and spring in Arkansas, and I think this filly is well-spotted to have an impact here if she can handle the grass. Time Goes Fast (#5) takes a significant drop in class for her first start since November. She gets Lasix for the first time after running two races that weren’t awful on the turf at Laurel in 2021. She’s a logical player, but I do feel this drop is suspect enough if proceed with caution and avoid taking too short of a price on her. On deeper tickets, Macrelletta (#1) does make some sense, and she fits from a figures standpoint. However, she has already had nine chances and has only been close to winning a race once. She’s a horse that has burned some money in her last few starts, so 7-2 feels a little too light for me.
Conditioned $40K-$30K claimers go six furlongs here. I do love playing three year olds with multiple wins this time of year taking on older horses that have only their maiden win on their resumes. Kozy’s Wildcat (#4) fits that profile nicely, winning two of his last three. He struggled on New Year’s Day two back in the slop, but he was facing some nice three year olds in optional claiming/N1X allowance company that day. He came back at the end of April in a $25K-$20K claiming race for three year olds, where he was a much the best winner at short odds. This is a rise in class, but there are many runners in here that aren’t in very good current form. He looms as the one to beat here. Custom Bobby’s (#2) is an interesting runner in this race making his first start for Jose Camejo. He has hit with 32% of his new acquisitions since the start of 2021, and I think he has this Louisiana bred well spotted for his local debut. He’s a speedy type whose Fair Grounds form certainly fits with this group. Samuel Marin, who continues to impress with his limited opportunities, gets the assignment. Stainless Steel (#8) ships in from Oaklawn for Bonnie Lucas, after being claimed when he broke his maiden last out. He was improving for Asmussen over his four starts in Arkansas, so I could see him being a factor when facing winners for the first time.
This N1X allowance race doesn’t feel like a race where I’ll try to get cute. Her World (#3) should be much the best in this race, while likely going off at short odds. She was good enough to clobber the boys as a two year old making her debut in the Tyro Stakes on this oval. She made her 2022 debut in the Limestone Stakes, where Ruthin, her stablemate, and Derrynane, who entered in the Soaring Softly Stakes at Belmont this afternoon, were just a little bit better. Wesley Ward brings her back here and drops her in class. I don’t love that she’s not racing in stakes company, but I think this will be a good confidence building race for her. Ward is known for entering horses and scratching them frequently, but he does have Paco Lopez riding, which is a positive sign. If she does defect, Abuse of Power (#6) for Ward’s former assistant, Phillip Antonacci, would be where I would land. She wasn’t great in her three starts at Gulfstream, but her New Jersey and New York form from 2021 was very good. I can see her moving forward while returning here, however, she might be more effective in her next start.
New Jersey bred fillies and mares go 1 Mile and 70 Yards in this N1X allowance. This is another race where the heavy favorite is going to be very tough to beat. Beach Daze (#3) ships in from Parx after running some strong races there against open company. She was second in open stakes company two starts ago, and most recently was a handy winner with optional claiming/starter allowance foes there. She ships to the Shore and gets class relief while facing state breds and running for a larger purse. If there is one to beat her, I think the most likely culprit would be I Can Run (#5). She’ll be going two turns for the first, so 6-1 or higher will be where she’ll need to be for me to be interested. However, her one turn mile races at Laurel were some of her better efforts. She clearly needed her last race, which came in the slop in a sprint on this oval. I’m expecting a better overall try from her this afternoon.
Race 11: The $100K Cliff Hanger Stakes:
The feature this afternoon drew ten solid competitors going 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf course here. I’d like to try to beat the favorite, Analyze It (#4) in this race. The late sequences could wind up being very chalky and, while I really like this horse seven year old gelding, I do feel he is vulnerable in this spot. He looked like he was on his way to turf stardom when he was a narrow third place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Mile as a three year old back in 2018. He’s had many starts and stops in his career since, but he hasn’t quite been the same horse. He likes to be on the front end, which may not be ideal in this race, with Carpenters Call (#5), King of Dreams (#6), and Mid Day Image (#7) stacked to his outside. He was absolutely empty in his last start at Gulfstream in the Fort Lauderdale. He’s been gelded since that race and picks a modest spot to start his seven year old campaign. He’s the class of the race, and his post position inside of the other speed horses should help. I’ll use him on the A line, but I’ll still try to beat him vertically. I’ll try Mohs (#8) to make a splash in his four year old debut this afternoon. He likes the local course and he should get the right set up to come flying home late if he’s good enough. He showed a lot of potential as a three year old, and it’s not uncommon to see these turf horses really take off as four year olds. Kentucky Ghost (#3) stopped to a walk in the Grade 1 Turf Classic on the new turf course at Churchill Downs last out on Derby Day. He was working well coming into that race, but something was amiss, as he was simply not interested that day, stopping to a walk before the race was finished. He was vanned off, but appears to be no worse for wear after that race. Perhaps he bled, as he was not on Lasix in that Grade 1 contest, but gets it back today. He ran some quality races last season, and I think he’s a rebound candidate here. On deeper tickets, I’ll throw in Yes This Time (#10), who is another four year old making his first start of the season in this race. He was very good last year, rattling off five straight wins on the grass, including a score in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes. He was competitive in stakes races at Kentucky Downs, Keeneland, and Gulfstream, hitting the board in all three to wrap up a successful three year old campaign. Paco Lopez had success with both him and Mohs last year, and ended up taking the mount of Yes This Time, which still means something here.
I see the nightcap, which is a $12,500-$10,500 N3L claiming race, as a two horse affair where I’ll give the edge to Confectioner (#6). He makes his first starts since being overmatched in the Dads Caps starter handicap at Aqueduct two months ago, he was running against significantly better fields there but his speed figures have been very competitive, especially while dropping to this level. He’s been very good when coming here in the past, winning two of five starts and finishing second two more times. I think a lot of the wagering money will go to Raise the Rent (#7) for Paco Lopez and Kelly Breen, hopefully creating a nice price on this one who is 6-1 on the morning line. Raise the Rent is the other runner I’ll be using in this race. He showed some definite potential in his first several career races, however his last two have definitely not been up to snuff. He’ll likely be winging it on the front end in this race today, while taking a signifcant drop in class.
Top Pick Winners 14/44 (32%) – $119.60 / $2.72 ROI