The Sunday card at Monmouth has five of the eleven races carded for the turf. This includes the feature race, which is the Politely Stakes, for fillies and mares sprinting 5 Furlongs. The weather in the mid-Atlantic region was not good yesterday, and a decent amount of rain has fallen in the past 36 hours. I’m thinking the races carded for the turf will be moved to the main track, but I have handicapped for both surfaces.
|DBL, PK3, PK5|
|DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||2||4||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|7||4||2,5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|DBL, PK3, PK4|
|10||Turf: 6, 11
Dirt: 5, 6, 11
Race 1: Top Pick: 4 (Turf) / 5 (Dirt)
The first of five turf races carded on the day is a 5 and ½ Furlong sprint. On the grass, I think Conquistador (4) is live, and might offer a bit of value in this spot. He has been dull in his last two dirt races at Parx and at Turf Paradise, but he’s been more consistent on synthetic and on turf. His trainer, Louis Linder, has had a very good 2021 season, mostly at Parx, winning 27% of his races. He didn’t saddle a winner on the grass in 20 tries last year, but I think he’s got the right idea getting him back on the lawn. On the dirt, Street Tail (5) has been in the best form of late, running solid efforts at Parx, most recently finishing 5th, less than a length behind the winner in a wild finish with optional claiming/starter allowance foes. His last win came with $8K claimers at the 5 and ½ Furlong distance four starts ago. I think he becomes the one to beat if this race comes off the grass. Call Wil (1) is the 3-1 morning line favorite, making his first start since November. I think he’s definitely better on the turf, but he’s playable on the main track as well. He has 8 wins in 18 tries when sprinting 5 or 5 and ½ Furlongs on the turf, finishing on the board another 5 times. Michael Catalano has a decent record with horses off a layoff, and he had success with this one in August, when running back off a nine month break. He looks to be the best closer on the main track, which could be an asset in a field where many don’t like the surface and might be backing out of the picture.
Race 2: Top Pick: 2
New Jersey bred maiden special weight filly and mares go six furlongs here. This is a tough race to navigate as all five horses with experience are making their first start in 2021. There are also two first time starters that complete this seven horse field. I’m using three, but I’d suggest as much coverage as your budget allows. I made Pomtini (2) my top pick, making her second career start today and her first start since her debut in the mud back in October. She was away a little tardy that day, but showed some interest before levelling off late. She adds blinkers for this start after working with interest in the AM over the last few weeks. Sunnyridge Jamie (5) is a first time starter ridden by Isaac Castillo, who had a winner on the Opening Day card on Friday. McBurney had some success with first timers last season, winning with two of ten. Her works have been steadily improving, so I think she’s playable here. Oddsondustymiller (3) is the lukewarm morning line favorite after a few respectable efforts at this level last season. She bobbled at the start with a much deeper field last time out in August, but her two efforts prior to that, would likely get her close with this field. She ran well on debut, so there’s reason to believe she’ll fire off the layoff.
Race 3: Top Pick: 8 (Turf) / 3 (Dirt)
We’re scheduled to be back on the grass here to start the first Pick 4 wager of the afternoon. The open claiming turf races here are always competitive, and this group is no exception. On turf, I think King of Spades (8) has the slight advantage. He loves this course, winning four of ten times here. His rally has come up bit a short while facing open $25K claimers on the grass at Belmont and Aqueduct in his last two. He drops a level to $22K-$18K and he should have some pace in front him to close in to. Dundalk (6) is the morning line favorite and the likely pacesetter. He faded when the pace was hot last out at Gulfstream with optional $25K claimers/N1X allowance foes. He led gate to wire two back though and has good efforts on softer courses earlier in his career. Tree Shaker (7) is one that I’ll try to add to the tickets, making his first start since last September. He had three sharp efforts last season on this course when facing saltier competition. He too has handled softer ground in his previous chances. His last can be forgiven at 11 Furlongs, so I’m expecting a solid effort to start his eight year old season.
On the main track, I like Exchequer (3) over the two main track only entrants. He was claimed at Tampa for $10K last out, beating those rivals to earn his third win in his last four starts. He moves up in class, with the thought of going to the grass, where he has run well in the past. However, his current dirt form is sharp, and I think he has a much better chance if this race comes off the turf. I Love Jaxson (10) was a winner last out with $12,500 claimers. His form has been up and down of late, but his last was sharp. Paul The Waiter (9) returns after two months away. He’s been facing tougher foes at Parx, so this should be an easier spot to make his return.
Race 4: Top Pick: 3
The big question for this $8K-$7K, N4L claiming race is what are you going to do with Brice (3)? He has been absolutely devastating in his three career wins, winning them by a combined total of almost 30 lengths. His other starts have not been nearly as impressive though, and he hasn’t been able to put those two big races together back to back. Delgado has given him some time after his last win at the N3L level for the same tag at Tampa. He should be on the lead again, which is where he’s been dangerous. His running lines are also muddied a bit by five turf races, where he was never won, compared to his 3-7 overall record on the main track. I’ll use him on top, but I want a little coverage. If he’s pressured, I think the benefactor of that will be Speed Syndrome (5) who was second two times in a row at this level at Parx before tossing a dull effort last out, where he was too far back early. He’s shown the ability to rebound from a poor outing in the past. He is the logical horse to use alongside the favorite here. New Mexico (6) is another horse that is hard to make heads or tails of. He was in good from until his last two races where he has been absolutely dreadful. Three starts back he won in allowance company at Sam Houston. Today he plummets to $8K claiming after running with a $20K tag at the beginning of the month at Lone Star. Unless his odds float over 6-1, I won’t be using him.
Race 5: Top Pick: 6 (Turf) / 1 (Dirt)
On either surface, I feel this $16K multi-conditioned claiming contest will be formful. On the turf, Red Mule (6) is the only one in here with consistent turf form, continually knocking on the door with tougher foes on the NYRA circuit. The class relief here will be noticeable if he gets to race on the grass. If the race get moved to the main track, I think the attention will go squarely on Now Tiz Time (1). Wayne Potts is off to a good start at this meet, winning two races on Opening Day. He took over training this horse, who has some solid efforts at Remington and Delta before shipping to Belmont. He tried the N1X allowance company there and was overmatched. This is a much more realistic spot for him today.
Race 6: Top Pick: 2
This is not the strongest group of $5K, filly and mare, multi-conditioned claimers. Horses could enter this race if they have never won three times or if they have not won once in six months. This feels like a two horse race to me. I’m leaning on the horse for course angle with Midnight Sky (2) who has never been worse than second in seven starts on this oval, winning four times. To put that in perspective, she has raced 37 times at other tracks with 2 wins and 4 second place finishes. She has been running consistently at Parx. Her efforts haven’t been great, but those fields were a little better than the group that is racing here. I think she is eligible to move up on her favorite track. U Know I B Lion (4) became eligible for this condition three days ago since his last win came on 11/27/20 (6 Months and 3 Days Ago). He rejoins the Mark Hoffman barn, after an up and down winter at Tampa. He was running much more consistent efforts when he was trained by Hoffman in the past, so I like his chances of rebounding off a poor effort last time out.
Race 7: Top Pick: 4
Pletcher and Brown bring the headliners to this optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race. However, when they are both represented in races at Monmouth, I find that tends create value on other horses, especially knowing they’re not typically sending their best horses to Monmouth. I think Justinthenickoftime (4),who is coming off a hard fought win (only to be disqualified and placed second) at Keeneland, makes a lot of sense. He was claimed off Mike Maker for the second time last out when Kent Sweezy claimed him on behalf of Imaginary Stables and Glen Ellis. 16 of his 20 career races have been on the turf, but he looks like he handles the dirt just fine. He’s cutting back off a 9 Furlong race and should be able to create a very good trip for himself. Ashaar (5) is the Pletcher entrant who is even money on the morning line. He ran a big race at Oaklawn two back on the Rebel undercard, finishing second to a Fair Grounds invader (Trident Hit). He was absolutely empty last out at Keeneland, faltering as the 1-2 favorite in a 9 Furlong N1X allowance race. Perhaps the nine furlongs was a bit out his range, and he’ll improve on the cutback. He’s dangerous, but vulnerable, especially at 1-1. Chad Brown sends out Mister Winston (2) who is the second choice on the morning line at 5-2. He’s never run two turns in his five career starts, but his best race did come at the one turn, 1 Mile and 1/16 trip at Belmont. His last two have been dull at 7 Furlongs when running at Aqueduct and Belmont, so the ship here makes some sense. Brown tacks on blinkers for the first time in hopes of getting him involved earlier. He too has some question marks, but should definitely be used as coverage.
Race 8: Top Pick: 7 (Turf) / 11 (Dirt)
If this N1X allowance race stays on the grass, I think the two favorites are very logical in this spot. Mid Day Image (7) had a three race win streak in $16K starter allowance company snapped at Gulfstream last out. He was wide most of the trip that day and ended up giving way late. He likes to be forwardly placed and should be dangerous if he can get over a softer course. Junkanoo (5) is the morning line favorite and he has been proven on a softer course. Perhaps the course at Gulfstream was too firm when he made his 2021 debut on the undercard of the Pegasus World Cup. He was dull that day, but he had a monster effort two back on a course rated good at Aqueduct in November. One longshot that I think can be upgraded is Marksman (3). He ran a much improved race in his second start of the year last year, and went on to have a solid campaign. He returned after three months off last time out and was definitely rusty at Tampa. I think he’s a horse to consider using on either surface as he was pretty sharp in some off the turf races here last year. On dirt, Irish Meadow (11) will be the one to beat. He’s on the MTO list after a pair of strong races where he was second both times at Parx. Claudio Gonzalez trained two winners on yesterday’s card, and I think he has this one well spotted. Depending on scratches and prices, Orbert (2), who is 30-1 on the morning line for the turf, might be one to think about on the dirt. I’ll still need a price as his last two have been horrendous. However, he had some solid efforts on the dirt here in 2020. He might be better next time, but he’s not impossible here at long odds.
Race 9: Top Pick: 3
Usually when you get a five furlong race, there are some horses that are very quick early, but that isn’t necessarily the case in this $20K maiden claimer on the main track. That might open the door for first time starter, Jerichos Battle (3) who has a few decent works for trainer Rafael Schistl. Schistl has good numbers with maiden claimers in general and has won with one of them on debut in the last year and a half. This isn’t the hardest to spot for a debut, so I think he’s worth including on your tickets. Meetyouatthedelta (6) debuted at Tampa going seven furlongs with $25K maiden claimers. At any level of competition, seven furlongs is a hard distance to make your first start at. He drops in class and cuts back to five furlongs while running for Bruce Alexander for the first time. He showed enough last out to use him back today. The morning line favorite is Souper Boom (8) who has never started on the main track in four career starts. He was been close in maiden allowance at Colonial on the grass and at Presque Isle on synthetic. He faced Florida breds on the turf at this distance in his first start of 2021 in March and finished 4th. His works are ok, so it’s reasonable to play him in this spot.
Race 10: The Politely Stakes: Top Pick: 6 (Turf) / 11 (Dirt)
On either surface, I think the two main players in this featured stakes race are going to be Miss Auramet (6) and Honey I’m Good (11). I prefer Miss Auramet on the grass after two wins and a third in her last four starts on the turf. She has good tactical speed, so she’ll likely be comfortable sitting off the early lead set by Honey I’m Good. She can handle a course with give it in, and she can also handle a fast or wet dirt track. On the dirt, I think Honey I’m Good might have the edge. She hasn’t been off the board on either surface since November of 2018. Her early speed plays better on main track than it does on the grass, especially if the course has some give to it. On deeper tickets on the turf, Auldwood Lane (4) and Liana Susquehanna (8) might be good longer priced horses to add to your tickets. Auldwood Lane hasn’t run on the turf since 2019, but her turf form back in the day was strong. She was second in three turf sprint stakes on this course, so she can definitely hang with these if she’s still got it. Liana Susquehanna was improving on the turf before a pair of dull efforts on the main track. She’s now seven years old and making her first start of 2021. She can certainly compete at this level if she still has it. On the dirt, Bronx Beauty (5) brings some back class to this field, winning the Regret on the main track here in 2020. She’s been off since a solid finish in the Minaret at Tampa. The five furlongs might be a tad short for her, but she’s dangerous on class alone in this spot.
Race 11: Top Pick: 5
I think High Five Cotton (5) is strictly the one to beat in this optional $16K/starter allowance race. Despite the dual conditions, all six horses are entered under the $8K starter allowance condition. High Five Cotton was a winner with similar company at Keeneland last month. He was very good at Tampa this winter, winning four straight races, before losing his next four starts and going off form. His last may have signaled a return to his better efforts, and he cuts back to a distance (5 and ½ Furlongs) where he’s been successful in the past. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with a few others. The big favorite is The Queens Jules (3) who is definitely the class of this field. My concern about him is the distance, as he’s been much more effective at middle distance sprint races. When he’s cut back to 6 Furlongs, his hasn’t been nearly as effective. He still stands out from class standpoint as he was a winner at the N1X allowance at Belmont two starts back. Sour Kicks (1) is trending in the right direction after 6 solid efforts in a row. His figures are little light, but as a four year, he is continuing to progress, and could have another forward in him today. Coach Adams (6) was claimed by Hollendorfer last out for $7,500, when he defeated claimers that haven’t won in six months. This is a solid step up off the claim, and for a horse that has struggled in some shorter races, it’s hard to accept too short of a price. I prefer him at 4-1 or better, but I’m not sure that’s in the cards.
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