There’s a special, nine race holiday card this afternoon at Monmouth. After two days of miserable weather, the skies should be clearing to make for a more seasonable afternoon. However, the large amount of rain that fell over the last 48 hours has caused the three races that were carded for the turf today to be transferred to the main track (A decision that was made on Sunday). The featured race is the Spruce Fir for New Jersey bred fillies and mares, which will be run at 6 Furlongs on the main track. Speed and the rail were decent in the slop yesterday, especially as the card went on. The rain has moved out and sunnier skies are forecasted today, meaning the track should be drying out. Historically, those conditions have favored speed horses at Monmouth park, so that will be something to keep an eye on as the day goes on.
|1||5,7||4,6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||Dirt: 3,9||2||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|4||Dirt: 2||3||5||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|5||1||4,6||2,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||Dirt: 7,10||2,14||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 7
The opener is a $12,500-$10,000 N3L claiming race for three year olds and upward at 1 Mile and 70 Yards. This is a tough race to figure as the favorites on the morning line are definitely better on turf than on dirt. I’m looking for some value and coverage in the first leg of the Early Pick-5. I made Vitesse (7) my tepid top pick in this wide open contest. He’s one of two being sent out by Wayne Potts in here, Trappeze Artist (5), being the other. I think both are live, despite neither having gone two turns before. Vitesse was claimed three starts ago at Aqueduct, and has been dull ever since. He had a nice string of races at the one turn mile on the NYRA circuit before the claim though. Potts gave him two months away to hit the reset button. The potential is there, and 8-1 (ML) is a fair figure in this race. Trappeze Artist definitely has a pedigree that leans sprint, but two of his better dirt races were at 7 and 8 Furlongs. He also is shipping in from NYRA and getting some class relief in this spot, as I don’t think these field are as deep as they are at Belmont. Potts had a strong opening weekend and appears to be ready to send out a lot of live runners at this meet. Armando’s Team (6) was a close third at Tampa three starts ago in an off the turf $16K N3L claiming race. His overall form has improved dramatically since coming to the Jose Delgado barn at the start of the 20-21 Tampa meet. He’s had two months off, and returns to the dirt this afternoon after a pair of respectable turf tries. Double Chubble (4) is probably better sprinting, but he has consistent dirt form, which is more than a lot of these can say. He’s been facing better at Parx, coming up short against a stronger field for the optional claiming/starter allowance condition there. He’ll be part of the early pace situation here.
Race 2: Top Pick: 9
The first of two races in the early Pick 5 sequence that were originally carded for the turf, is a $16-$14K N4L claiming race. I’m expecting a decent number of scratches as there are quite a few with solid turf form. I’m using Bellarmine Hall (9) on top for Jamie Ness. He was a strong winner with N3L claimers on the dirt at Parx last out. He seems to be getting back to his better form after going off form for a bit at the start of 2021. I think this is a good spot for him, especially with the race coming off the grass, and the competition being a little softer than it normally would be for an N4L race at this level carded for the main track. Drillomatic (3) is a dual surface threat in this race after returning off the layoff with a strong effort with N3L claimers at Tampa last month. He ran a career top in that race after going off form a bit in the fall. I could see him running big again or regressing a bit off his last. I think he’s worth covering in this spot though, as there’s not a ton of depth in this spot, with whatever may remain. Team Effort (2) makes his first start in two months and should move forward among what is likely to be a short field. He was dull on the main track this winter, but has other efforts that are sharp on the dirt earlier in 2020. He has some upset potential.
Race 3: Top Pick: 2
I think the two favorites in this N1X allowance sprint will be bet heavily, but I think this race might be ripe for an upset. Steve Asmussen has entered a pair and I like Carpe Luna (2) to run them down in the stretch. All five other horses in this race want to be on the front end, so I’m thinking the pace could be hot and heavy here. His debut was dull, but he broke his maiden going last to first in a one mile contest in his second career try. He advanced to stakes company in his last start as a two year old, finishing an even 5th in the Clever Trevor. He has been working at Louisiana Downs for his return, and joins a group of runners that Asmussen has shipped here. He is the only one that has proven that he can pass horses, where everyone else has a speed and fade profile. He’ll need to step up his game in his three year old debut, but the set up is definitely there if he’s good enough. Momos (4) was an impressive winner on debut at Saratoga for Christophe Clement last July. He tried graded stakes company and finished third in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, beaten seven lengths by Grade 1 winner, Jackie’s Warrior. He tried the grass twice, ending his season in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, where he finished 7th. He comes back to the main track for his three year old debut, where he might simply be better than these. However, he is in field loaded with speed, and he’ll definitely have to work hard at short price to get the job done. Latin Casino (5) makes his third career start for Kelly Breen. He was a winner on debut at Aqueduct in March, but he found 7 Furlongs a bit too far at this point in his young career, when he tried this level at Belmont. Breen’s horses have been live so far at this meet, and he’s worth a play if he can rebound.
Race 4: Top Pick: 2
It’s hard to guess who will remain in this field of $16K maiden claimers sprinting 5 Furlongs, now on the main track. However, regardless of who runs and scratches, I think Karen’s Way (2) is very logical shipping north from Gulfstream Park. She has four starts, two on turf and two on dirt. She came within ¾ of a length of the winner on the grass last out at this level on the turf. Two back, she ran a credible third on the main track. She is trending up and has decent speed from an inward draw. I think she’ll be a short price, and a tough foe in this race. Streetcar Jones (3) makes her second start off the layoff and her first start since joining the Wayne Potts barn. She debuted in January, facing the boys and ran a distant third. She faced fillies in her second start on the dirt in February and was dull. She was given two months off and tried the turf most recently, finishing 7th with $40K maiden claimers. She has run well enough to use while coming back on the dirt while also dropping in class. On deeper tickets, Billysbirthdaygirl (5) makes her 13th start, and she typically has the speed and fade profile for most of her races. She shortens to five furlongs on the dirt, and finds a soft group, where she shouldn’t have to work too hard to get the lead. Her last few haven’t been the greatest though, so I’ll be cautious with how I’ll use her.
Race 5: Top Pick: 1
I really like Pianzi (1) in this optional claiming/N1X allowance race this afternoon. He was very good with New Jersey breds at this meet last year, winning three times in four starts on this oval, and a second place finish in his only loss. He’s been facing optional claiming/N2X allowance horses at Laurel, despite being eligible for the N1X condition (seeing as how all three career wins came against state bred company). He’s caught a wet track in his last two starts, and his most recent effort was pretty strong off the layoff, gaining solid ground on a loose leader. He drops in class and gets a good pace set up here. My only concern is that it was hard to gain ground from the back of the pack yesterday in the sea of slop. Historically, Monmouth tends to be speed favoring when the track is drying out. My plan is to single him on my main ticket for the Early Pick-5, and maybe back up with a few other horses in here. If I see that the track is very kind to speed, I might downgrade him a bit and spread more for the Late Pick-5.
If closers are struggling, there are several that could be upgraded in this race. The most intriguing to me is 20-1 longshot, Mojac Kat (6). It took a while for him to get going, but he ended 2020 with three strong efforts in a row, two here and one at Penn National in December. He is quick from the gate and makes his first start as a four year old this afternoon for Chuck Spina. I think he offers value underneath as well here at long odds, as a horse that was putting things together at the end of the season. NYRA invader, Win With Pride (4) ships and runs for the tag today in this spot after several decent efforts He’s hit the board in 9 of 13 starts since 2020, and can handle a wet track if the conditions are less than fast. Our Man Luke (2) is second off the layoff and an improving four year old that ran several respectable races on this oval in 2020. His last race of 2020 here was by far his best race to date, beating Jersey Bred N1X allowance foes. He’s in open waters after returning on the turf at Tampa, but I think he’s another one that could run well at a price in here. Dr. Doyle (8) is yet another Jersey bred that has handled state breds and is now trying to clear the open N1X condition. He’s been off since August, but has been working well in Florida to get ready for his return. Cibelli does well with horses off the longer layoff, so he;s yet another one to consider.
Early Pick-5 – $36.00 Play
Race 1: 4, 5, 6, 7
Race 2: 2, 3, 9
Race 3: 2, 4, 5
Race 4: 2, 3
Race 5: 1
Race 6: Top Pick: 10
Fillies and mares go 5 and 1/1 Furlongs on the main track in this off the turf N1X allowance. 15 entered this race with 2 MTO’s and 4 AE’s. I’m assuming there will be a few scratches, so anyone who wants to compete, should be able to. Halo City (11) is a MTO that ran on Saturday at Belmont, so she’ll likely be a scratch. Tutti Benvenuti (10) is a leading candidate to get Jorge Duarte and Colts Neck Stables off the duck for 2021. She debuted like a good thing at Laurel last summer, but was a little dull when facing winners for the first time here in start number two. She went away for nine months and returned at Pimlico last month. She showed some interest, but yielded late. I think she fits with these, as there’s no real standout here. Mumbai (7) is the morning line favorite based on her turf efforts, which have been strong this year at Gulfstream. She’s definitely grown up, so I can forgive her dull effort in the slop on debut last May. Her pedigree suggests that she’ll be just as good on dirt as she is on the grass. Imagery (14) has three starts with some gaps in between. She debuted in the slop at Aqueduct in November, then switched to the turf for her next two tries. She faced winners for the first time on the turf and was 7th, beaten by a next out winner. I can see her moving forward on the main track. Glory Roll (2) goes Delgado after being claimed by him two starts back. She ran with starter allowance company last out on the dirt at Tampa, just missing there. He opted to protect her again, entering her in the N1X allowance condition. By doing so, I believe there is a thought that she has more ability than she’s shown thus far. They may want to get her on the turf, but this wouldn’t be a bad spot to run her on the main track, especially if the inner part of the track is as good as it was yesterday.
Race 7: Top Pick: 6
Multi-conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claimers go 6 Furlongs to kick off the last Pick-3 of the afternoon. Naval Wave (6) was knocking on the door in maiden claiming company for a while before breaking through last out at Tampa. She showed a new dimension by flashing early speed last out for first the time when making her first start for trainer Rafael Schistl. The splits were reasonably fast for $10K maiden claimers and she was able to keep finding to get the job done. The runner-up came back to win last out, so there was some quality in that field for the condition. Mi Cleopatra and I (8) is the only multiple winner in the field. Her form has been up and down of late, but she has run well when there has been some moisture in the track. She drops to her lowest level yet and should be tough with this group. On deeper tickets, Mama May I (9) might be worth a look. She has one start and one win, beating $10K maiden claimers in March at Tampa. She moves to a barn that has a very limited number of starters, but her rider, Maikol Tunon made the most of his limited chances by winning on a 35-1 longshot on Saturday (Brown Essence, Race 8).
Race 8: The Spruce Fir Stakes: Top Pick: 5
A lot of fillies and mares are making their first start of the year in this New Jersey bred stakes race. Dantastic (5) is one of them, making her first start as a four year old this afternoon. She was improving throughout her three year old campaign last year, ending her season at Parx by beating an open N1X allowance field in December. She makes her first start since while working steadily for Rory Huston. Her one race off the layoff in her career wasn’t great last year, but she had trouble at the gate and seems like she is a completely different horse than she was back then. Former mid-Atlantic rider, Calixto Juarez, trains Princess Georgia (2), who ships in from Maryland after two straight wins. She beat open N3L claimers in February at Laurel and then returned to beat starter allowance foes at Pimlico on May 1st. She looks to bookend the month of May with a win here amongst a soft field that’s competing for a $75K purse. Stay Smart (1) is the morning line favorite, but Kelly Breen did not name a jockey. I’m not sure if the plan is to run her here or wait for another spot. She loves this course, winning all 5 of career wins on this oval in 8 tries, all of those came at two turns. Her one turn form throughout her 20 race career is simply not that good. If she goes, she’ll likely be favored, so there won’t be a lot of value. I’ll try to beat her, but I think I’ll want to use her as a saver, as she is the most accomplished runner of this octet.
Race 9: Top Pick: 4
The nightcap is for $10K filly and mare, maiden claimers. The race was written for three year olds and up, but only three year old fillies entered. Claudio Gonzalez takes over the training of the speediest filly in the early stages of the race, Cookies and Cream (4). She debuted like a good thing at Laurel in November, with a strong effort in maiden special weight company, while running in the slop. She regressed a bit after that race, and has yet to run a race as strong as that effort. She dropped to this level in February, and ran a better race, one that would likely be good enough to win this race today. She’s been given three months off and moves to a higher percentage barn that wins at a 27% clip with new acquisitions. If the track does favor speed, she’ll be very dangerous. The main threat will be Sip ‘n Dip (6) ridden by 10 pound apprentice, Derbe Glass, who is looking for a first career win. Her two dirt efforts at Tampa would play very nicely in this field today. She moved a little prematurely when going 7 Furlongs, so the cutback in distance makes sense.
Top Pick Winners: 10/28 – $1.99 ROI
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