Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 5/28/23 – By Eric Solomon

 Day 6 of the Monmouth Park Meet offers an 11 race program, headed by the $100K Miss Liberty Stakes., which will go off as the 5th race of the afternoon. Paco Lopez is back after riding at Delaware yesterday. Despite missing two days of racing, he maintains a one race lead over Samy Camacho in the jockey standings, early in the meet. Beautiful weather is in the forecast for the middle leg of the three day holiday weekend. First post is the usual 12:40 (ET).

I’ll be covering the Monmouth Park meet for the third consecutive 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
1 5 4,5 1 DBL, PK5
2 3 2,3,5 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 7 2,5,7 DBL, PK3
4 1 1 3 DBL, PK3
5 3 3,4 DBL, PK3
6 4 4 5 DBL, PK3, PK6
7 2 2,7,8 4 DBL, PK3, PK5
8 2 2,8 5 DBL, PK3, PK4
9 9 9 4 1 DBL, PK3
10 4 4,7 DBL
11 8 4,8 1,9


Race 1:

The Sunday program begins with a $7,500-$6,500 N3L claiming race for three year olds and upward going 5 and ½ furlongs. Lyfe Is Simple (#5) is going to be my longshot stab in this race, hoping to give Clarence King and Richard Mitchell their first wins of the meet. He ran last week in a race where he was in over his head. He drops in class and cuts back to a sprint, which seems to be what he prefers to do. His previous two efforts at Parx were showing improvement. He is running out of condition, as he is eligible for N2L company, which is something to keep in mind for his next start, as that could be a hidden drop in class. Lost a Legend (#4 is the morning line favorite and probably the most likely winner in this spot. He finished 4th, beaten less than a length against a field of conditioned $6,250 claimers at Gulfstream at the beginning of the month. He was setting a slow pace when trying to carry his speed 6 and ½ furlongs that day. I like the cutback for him and I think he’ll be able to sit a good spot, just off some dueling frontrunners. Mundo Mix (#1) is typically a horse that I’ll play against in a race like this. He’s cutting back from longer races and his results are wildly inconsistent. He’s a decent work horse, posting some solid drills in the AM. He followed a similar pattern before his convincing win two back at Gulfstream. His last race at Tampa was a disaster, but his trip definitely was what did him in. Jorge Delgado has good numbers with runners cutting back in distance. I don’t love the 3-1 morning line price, but there are enough positives there to make sure that I’ll cover with him on some deeper tickets. 


Race 2:

$10K maiden claimers are routing on the dirt here. I picked Amalfi Lady (#3) on the turf yesterday when she was entered with $16K maiden claimers, and I’ll go back to her today in her first start at two turns on the dirt. She defected from that race in favor of this spot, which certainly, in terms of the competition, gives her a better chance of getting her picture taken. She showed definite improvement at seven furlongs in her most recent start. While I think the potential to run okay on the turf is there, her grand dam, Questing, was a Grade 1 winner at two turns on dirt. Mo Town Annie (#2) seems to have a sprint forward pedigree, however the dam’s most successful runner was a two-time winner at two turns on the dirt. She took a step forward when making her third career start, which was her first at two turns and her first on the turf. She was an AE in that same race that Amalfi Lady was entered in, and while I prefer her on grass at this level, she is certainly live with these. Franca (#5) is a New York bred that comes to town for Rob Atras. She was 4th beaten 6 lengths two starts ago in her only career start race. She was facing state bred $25K maiden claimers that day and it wasn’t the deepest group. This is still is a decent drop in class and a level that seems to fit her. 


Race 3:

The first turf race of the day is a conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race going 1 mile and 1/16. All ten runners here qualify under the N2L condition. This is a race that oversubscribed and has been split into two divisions, with the second heat being run as the 11th and final race of the afternoon. I’m going to try to take the horse that has the most upside in this race, and use Frenchy Departed (#7) on top for Jose Camejo. He struggled in his debut, mishandling the first turn at Tampa on the grass, however, he came back a much better horse in his second try, easily beating a $16K maiden claiming group there. Camejo brought this Louisiana bred gelding to the Fair Grounds for a try on the turf there with state bred N2L allowance types. He ran well to be third that day while drawing the outside post. This feels like a reasonable spot for him, making his local debut in his 4th career try. He’s never put forth a bad effort and I do see him as a candidate to improve. Sweeping Giant (#2) is the morning line favorite, getting Paco Lopez for the 4th consecutive race. He drops in class after three off the board finishes against stronger fields at Gulfstream. He was good enough to beat $40K maiden claimers at Saratoga last summer when he was claimed for Todd Pletcher. The drop in class signals that this was not a great claim for Breen and Mr. Amore Stables, as I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him join a new barn today. However, he clearly fits with this group and is one that is hard to leave off your tickets. There’s several that want to be forwardly placed in this race, but many of those runners have trouble finishing their races, Gods Glory (#5) narrowly missed with in an open $20K claiming race two starts back, which was restricted to three year olds only. He’s improved under the tutelage of Gerald Bennett, who claimed him for $20K back in January. His last wasn’t awful in a race that was taken off the turf. He makes his first start on this course in race where he could be going well in later stages. 


Race 4:

There are a pair of very short prices in this race and the next that will close out the Win-Early Pick-5 and the Early Pick-4. Grannys Connection (#1) has been absolutely dominant in her last three starts at Aqueduct, embarrassing a field of open maiden special runners, and then clearing the first two state bred allowance conditions with ease. Thomas Morley brings her down to Monmouth to face open N1X runners. I was initially curious about her coming here to race, especially with a loaded state bred program on Monday at Belmont. However, I don’t think Morley wants to send her 1 mile and 1/16, which she would have to do if she entered the Critical Eye Stakes, and other than that, there’s not really a race that fits her condition. This looks like a good spot to get her ready for the Dancin’ Renee Stakes on 6/25 at Belmont, which makes a ton of sense for her. There’s a lot of speed signed on in this field, but she appears to be faster than her rivals, while also having more staying power. If this race does fall apart, the Arkansas bred, Gramercy Park (#3) would be my choice to pick up the pieces. She was able to accomplish that kind of trip at Oaklawn in her last start when she let the speed duel percolate early and then came over the top to score late. John Ortiz makes a rare appearance with a runner at Monmouth. He has only started two runners here in the past five years. He didn’t win with either, but Hollis was second in a stakes race last September. Paco Lopez riding will likely limit the actual value we’d be getting on her, however, she makes the most sense as a backup plan in this race. 


Race 5, The $100K Miss Liberty Stakes:

There are only seven runners entered in the featured race this afternoon, and I’m not sure how many will start as there are four that seem to be overmatched by the three main contenders in this race. Irie Empress (#2) is one of them and she is cross-entered in an allowance race on dirt tomorrow at Parx, where she is still a longshot. Todd Pletcher sends out Scottish Star (#4), who has been installed as the 3-5 morning line favorite. She’s a definite threat for Paco Lopez to walk on the front end and steal this $100K pot. She’s coming off a pair of runner-up finishes in Grade 3 turf races at Tampa. While she does have a pace advantage over both Spirit and Glory (#3) and Kalifornia Queen (#6), my hope is that one of the outsiders, perhaps My Thoughts (#1) or Madame Rouge (#5) can put enough pressure on her to give Spirit and Glory a fighting chance. While both Scottish Star and Kalifornia Queen are six year old mares, Spirit and Glory is a four year old filly, coming off a decent effort in the Plenty of Grace Stakes at Aqueduct last month. Evvie Jets stole that race on the front end and Chad Brown’s Whitebeam, who was the runner-up, just won the Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard. She’ll need to make up six lengths on Scottish Star, who beat her by that margin in the Grade 3 Endeavour in February. I do see some upside though is Nik Juarez is able to keep her a little closer than Trevor McCarthy did last time out. At 7-2 on the morning line, compared to 3-5 for Scottish Star, she feels like she’s going to offer the best value in this race. Kalifornia Queen runs for Chad Brown, and she’s likely to be the second choice in the wagering. She had a good run of near misses in graded stakes races last summer and fall, losing by less than a length in the Grade 3 Matchmaker here, the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga, and the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine. Her last three starts have not been encouraging though and at shorter odds, I need to see that this mare can return to her better form, even on the class drop, before using her in a spot like this. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $18 Ticket:

I’m taking a more modest approach with my base ticket in this sequence today, but I’d likely play this All-A wager a few times. Granny Connection (#1, R4) feels too good in that race so that’s where I’ll single. Both her and Scottish Star (#4, R5) are massive favorites on the morning line. I’ll hope to beat Scottish Star with Spirit and Glory (#3, R5) but both are on the ticket. 


Race 6:

The Jersey Shore-6 starts off with this 5 and ½ furlong sprint race that has an interesting condition. It’s an open claiming race for fillies and mares, with a high $100K-$80K price tag. Only six runners have entered and between them, they have a combined 130 starts and 39 wins, but only one of those 130 races have come on this oval. Most of these mares are out of allowance conditions, so I see this as a race that makes sense for many of these. I like Night Cap (#4) for Gerald Bennett in this race. She needed her first race off the layoff at Tampa back in January, and she had no interest in the turf when sprinting in the Lightning City Stakes in her next start. Her last start at Tampa for the season was a dominating victory at the N2X allowance level, where she signaled that she was back to her better form that she showed last spring and summer. She was a winner at the Finger Lakes last year when following a similar pattern. I think Jose Ferrer will have her in a good spot. Centre Court Champ (#5) is the other logical runner in this race. She’s been a bridesmaid when facing tougher company at Parx over her last several races. She’s been beaten by some quality runners in her last five starts, losing three times to Disco Ebo. She was beaten by a graded stakes shipper, Empire House, in stakes company at Parx in January and lost to Early Edition, who is in career best form right now last time out. I do wonder if we’ve seen the best of this mare, as she really hasn’t been close to winning in those races. She is very consistent though, winning six of 19 times and finishing in the money eight other times. The class relief could be the key, but as the favorite, I don’t love the value.  


Race 7:

After some races where there are some short prices that look tough to beat, I think there are some interesting longshots that could make life difficult for the morning line favorite, Won an Award (#4) in this maiden special weight turf sprint. I landed on Win No Joke (#2) as the top pick. He was third at Tampa last out when Playground Legend (#6) finished in front of him. He was making his first start in 10 months that day. He ran a much better race in his second career start, so I think that he could be in line to take a strong step forward here. I see the extra ½ furlong as a benefit for him. Both El de Chirel (#7) and Paxsational (#8) are making their first career starts on the turf today. Both have a pedigree that would suggest they could move up on the lawn. El de Chirel was a distant second in his local debut two weeks ago on the dirt. His dam, Clay’s Rocket, foaled Greeley’s Rocket, who won the Crank It Up Stakes at this distance on this course. Her runners have started 13 times in turf sprints, winning three and finishing in the money eight times. Paxsational is the first foal to race from the mare Browse. She was a winner on the turf, so the pairing with Speightstown certainly could lead this horse to success in turf sprints. His first two starts came in the slop in the winter at Aqueduct, so the break and the fresh start should be welcome. Eric Cancel is here to ride Grannys Connection in the 4th race, and he’ll get the call for NYRA based trainer, Edward Barker. Won an Award has two good starts on turf for Jorge Duarte. He trains all of the Colts Neck Stable horses these days and those colors have been well represented at Monmouth Park for years. I don’t particularly love the cutback to 5 and ½ furlongs and I think he’s facing some under the radar types here, suggesting that he’ll be overbet while those runners could be overlooked. 


Race 8: 

The Late Pick-4 gets started with a New Jersey bred allowance race for horses that have never won a New Jersey bred race other than maiden claiming, or starter, going one mile on the main track. Running Right By U (#2) is an interesting longshot play to consider in this race. His dam won six times in seven starts at this one mile distance at Monmouth on the dirt for Chuck Spina back in 2012. He’s sired by Carpe Diem, so I don’t see the mile being a problem. He’s a three year old taking on older horses, so there is definite upside in playing him. He made his first start of the year at this level two weeks ago and was well beaten behind a sharper field. He got better with each start when sprinting as a two year old last season and Spina has done well with the horses he’s started so far at this meet. He’s listed at 12-1 on the morning line and I think he’s worth a shot anywhere near that number. Crafty Don (#8) makes a lot of sense, stretching back out to two turns after struggling in his last two sprints at Parx. He has a good record on this course, winning twice and finishing in the money nine times altogether in 12 career starts. He’s come close at this level and he’s facing several runners that might not be at their best when going two turns on the main track. Royal Coup (#5) was a winner at the state bred N1X level last year, but was disqualified from purse money after the race. His last win came at Parx back in October. He’s been popular at the claim box, but his last two were far from his best. It’s fair to wonder if this eight year old gelding doesn’t have it anymore. However, after a brief freshening, I do think it may be premature to give up on him. 


Race 9:

We go back to the turf for this optional $30K/N2X allowance sprint, going 5 and ½ furlongs. The two shorter prices are Mamba on Three (#1) and Grooms All Bizness (#9). Of that duo, I think Grooms All Bizness is the one that is best suited for this distance and the one to beat in this race. He was knocking on the door in some decent stakes races in the Mid-Atlantic region last year. Duarte brought him back to start his 2023 campaign in a six furlong sprint at Belmont at this level where he finished a solid second. Both of his two wins have come on this course at this distance, so he feels like a horse that is ready to take a big step forward. Mamba on Three is going to be a saver on the deepest tickets for me. Watching Lady Irvine run them off their feet at this distance yesterday, makes me think that speed horses might have an advantage in these sprint races on this course. There were several sprints carded last weekend, but all of them were washed on the turf. My big concern is that Mamba on Three is very good at five furlongs on the turf, winning three of six starts and never finishing worse than third. At 5 and ½ furlongs, he’s 0-4, with two third place finishes where he held the lead late and was passed easily. Maya Prince (#4) is an improving four year old that could have an impact in this race for Mike Trombetta.  Toss his last in the mud at Laurel where he was never comfortable. He is best on the turf, despite going back and forth between turf and synthetic over the winter. He was closing well at Gulfstream going five furlongs in his last two turf tries, but I think he’s another runner that is better suited for the slightly longer trip. Pair that with a frontrunner that could be getting leg weary in the stretch, and he becomes a live longshot here. 


Race 10:

$10K maiden claiming fillies and mares sprint six furlongs here. Cry It Up (#4) feels like one to beat in this race, making her first start since being a voided claim back in January at Parx. She’s worked a few times over the local oval and Avila puts her on raceday Lasix for the first time. She feels like a horse that could jump out to the lead and keep on finding, especially if the track continues to favor speed asd the day goes on like it did yesterday. Ucaptured Aero (#7)is the main danger for Darien Rodriguez. She has had some serious gaps in between her three career starts. She looked fine when finishing third with $16K maiden claimers at Tampa back in April. This will be her quickest turnaround in her career, so I’m assuming she’ll be able to build off that last effort. 


Race 11:

The day will conclude with the second division of the $16K-$14K conditioned claiming race for three year olds and upward at 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. This is a spread race for me, as I don’t like some of the shorter priced horses too much in this spot. I made a three year old, Pleasant Valiant (#8) my top choice in this spot. His last two turf races at Tampa were not bad, winning with $20K three year old claimers two back and finishing a solid 4th with optional claiming/starter allowance types in his last try. I like the addition of Jose Gomez for him in this spot, and he’s a runner that I could see moving forward after pairing his last two Beyer Speed Figures. Airman (#4) definitely fits on figures, assuming that he can run back to some of those races for Jaime Cruz today. He’s 1-18 in his career, so excitement can be tempered and I’d make sure I was getting fair value on this runner, as I think 4-1 feels like the right kind of price I’d want to get on him. Battle of Yorktown (#1) has a few decent turf races in his past running lines. He hasn’t done a whole bunch on dirt or synthetic, but he does seem to be the best version of himself when stepping onto the grass. He wintered at Parx, so turf racing is finally back on the table for him. He wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he pulled the upset here. The same could be said for Grand Manner (#9), who gets Daniel Centeno, an excellent turf rider, to ride. He’s 0-3 on the turf, running all three of those races at Laurel last year. However, none of those efforts were that bad, and he feels like a horse that is a little better now than he was last year. Toss his last effort at Aqueduct where he was overmatched and he feels like he could be a fit in this race. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 14/46 (30.4%) – $95.80/ $2.08 ROI

Three of my top picks were scratched yesterday, but three winners helped keep my ROI over $2.00 for the meet up to this point. Big Everest was a bit cold on the board in the Cliff Hanger Stakes, but he set all the fractions and was able to keep both Smokin T and James Aloysius at bay. Getting 3-1 on him was by far the most pleasant surprise of the day, as I would have been comfortable using him around 8-5. 

There were a few notable efforts in turf races yesterday, outside of the featured race. Lady Irvine looked right at home in her first career start on the turf. She sped to the lead and never looked by, winning by over four lengths. From a pedigree standpoint, I didn’t have her pegged as a turf sprinter. Her sire Accelerate was 0-9 with his progeny that had sprinted on turf in one turn races prior to her win. Her dam was based in Europe and was winless in her five career starts, however, her grand dam, Evening Jewel, was a Grade 1 winner on turf and synthetic, and lost by a narrow margin in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in her only career dirt try. The affinity for the turf should not have been a total surprise. It’ll be interesting to see if Delgado keeps her in sprints or tries to stretch her out over the next few starts. 

The 9th race was an optional claiming/N2X allowance race that was won by Catnip, winning his second straight race. He was stalking a pair of dueling leaders, but was pinned in along the rail when the runner-up, Highestdistinction moved early. Catnip was forced to swing four wide, but he was still a handy winner. I would think he would be under consideration Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes next month. 

Closers continued to struggle to get home on the main track, especially as the day went on. The turf course seemed to play evenly today with a few frontrunners and a few off the pace horses taking home the top prizes. 



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