There’s 11 races on top for this second Saturday card in the month of June. The featured race is the Lady’s Secret Stakes, named for the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner and Horse of the Year. She was a tremendous racehorse, winning 25 of her 45 career starts, including several stakes wins on this oval. The space outside of the clubhouse, overlooking the paddock at Monmouth Park is named the Lady’s Secret Cafe in her honor. Leader of the Band won this race last year and is back to try to defend her title. The day will kickoff with a $23K Carryover in the Win-Early Pick-5, which starts with the first race at 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!
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|2||3||3||1||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||4||4,5,6||7||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|7||3||3,5||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
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We’ll get things started this afternoon with a maiden special weight for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course. A lot of attention will likely be focused on the Chad Brown first time starter, Surge Capacity (#1), and she certainly has a live look. However, I’m going to try Rainbow Olly (#8), on the outside in her debut as a value play in here. She’s foaled by Winter Memories, whose dam was the very talented mare, Memories of Silver. While some of these horses from this family tree are better than others, they all seem to have ability on the turf. Winter Memories was a winner in her debut and two of her four offspring to race also won on debut. Jorge Delgado isn’t necessarily known for debuting horses at two turns on the turf, but he has a win doing just that . She’ll need a trip while facing a talented field, but she feels live here. Surge Capacity will be on my tickets as anything that Brown sends out here is dangerous on the turf. She’s sired by turf champion Flintshire out of the mare, Strong Incentive. She broke her maiden on the turf at Saratoga. Brown has had her working here, and he’ll give the assignment to Samy Camacho. Rugelach (#3) is stretching out again for Graham Motion today after struggling to finish strong in two sprint races. Sandwiched in between was a strong effort at Gulfstream on Tapeta going 1 mile and 70 yards. She appears to be the likely pacesetter. If there’s no pressure put on her, she could easily wire this group. 9-5 (ML) feels a little light, but I could see that number dropping just a bit. Shug McGaughey is sending out two here, but the one that feels more dangerous is High Stick (#6). He had her based at Horseshoe Indianapolis last year, where she just missed in both races. She made her 2023 debut in an off the turf race at Pimlico, where she finished 4th as the heavy favorite. She’s clearly more effective on the turf, but I would have liked to have seen just a little better effort from her last time. She’s still dangerous with this salty group though.
A half dozen fillies and mares will go six furlongs in this $25K starter allowance race, which is also restricted to horses that have never won three times. I think Beauty Quist (#3) is worthy of being a single in this race. She has been gradually improving for Greg Sacco, just missing in a N1X allowance race taken off the turf last month. She’s been right there in her last two while running at that N1X condition. Her debut win, nine races ago came with $25K maiden claimers and her other win was with optional claiming/$25K starter allowance company. When she drops in class, she’s dangerous. I think the class relief and her consistency make her much more desirable than her five rivals in this race. Knowing Glance (#1), coming in from Keeneland will be where I’d back myself up in this spot. Kelly Breen claimed her and brings her back in a protected spot, which is always a good sign. She was excellent two back, just missing with $20K N3L claimers at Oaklawn, when facing an above average field for that condition. She’s a bit of an up and down type though, which is not desirable for a morning line favorite.
The current form for these fillies and mares competing in this conditioned $5K claimer is not great. Arrow Shape (#1), who is the morning line favorite, at least has an excuse for her last try. She did not break cleanly and then was floated wide on the Tapeta in a five furlong dash at Gulfstream last month. She was making her first start of the year for Jose D’Angelo. Her form on dirt prior to that effort was solid, running two good races with conditioned $6,250 claimers at Gulfstream last fall. If she’s the same horse in her second start off the bench, she should be an easy winner here. If for some reason she’s not, Wicked Jane (#7) is a longshot that intrigues me a bit. Toss her last when she was coming back off a four month break. She ran in a two turn race against state bred allowance types, which is not what she wants to do. Her ceiling isn’t as high as some of the others, but if she gets back to her 2022 form, her floor isn’t as low as many of her competitors. She’s likely a better fit underneath, but she could surprise under the right circumstances on the drop in class.
I’m going to try Trusting Bond (#1) to get the win in this conditioned $30K-$25K claiming race going 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. He was 5th to Midnight Chrome, who came back to win in his subsequent start, at this level last month, when making his first start since October. He fired a bullet work for Claudio Gonzalez last week, who has very good numbers with runners second off the layoff. He had trouble going into the first turn when going two turns for the first time in that last race. He;s sired by Keen Ice, so he’ll be fine going two turns. I expect him to be more fit for this race. Anthracite (#6) feels very logical in this race, making his first local start. He was excellent when finishing second at the N1X allowance level at Tampa two back. His last start was a one turn mile, so the added distance and the two turn configuration should be to his benefit. Rol Again Dancer (#4)is trying a route for the first time. He was solid on this course last year as a two year old. He just missed with open $25K claimers at Aqueduct two starts back. He struggled there last out when facing a sharper group. If he can handle the distance, I think he’s found the right level of competition.
I’ll use Bee By The Sea (#6) in this open $12,500-$10,500 turf sprint that will wrap up the Win-Early Pick-5. He was on a steady diet of sprint races on the Tapeta at Gulfstream for the last year. He was very competitive before going off form for a bit. Marcial Navarro gave him a little freshening, and now he brings him back to Monmouth for the first time since 2021. He is more than capable on grass and he broke his maiden on this course at this distance. Majestico (#8) is a solid favorite here. He’s the kind of horse that is better at 5 and ½ furlongs than five furlongs. He’ll run here for the first time today while making his first start since January. He was a winner at this distance last summer at Colonial. He seems to fit well at this condition. Strong Breeze (#7) is an interesting longshot type that could add some spice underneath in the vertical wagers. This nine year old gelding was very good on this course in 2021, but he struggled to find his best form in 2022. With the exception of his last race, his Parx form over the winter and spring had him looking more like his old self. If he can rebound from the egg he laid last out, he might be able to blow up the toteboard while coming back on grass. Tetragrammaton (#3) runs back quick after a wide trip at this level in a route race. He was part of a field where there were several runners that wanted to challenge for the lead. He moved early, but flattened out late. While his best races have been at two turns, he was a winner on this course and distance back in September.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $24 Ticket:
Despite the carryover, I do think there’s a few short prices that appear to be tough to beat in this sequence. I think both Beauty Quist (#3, R2) and Arrow Shape (#1, R3) are going to be very tough in their respective heats. I’ll try to use both as singles, while hoping to connect with a few prices in the other legs.
Even though this $12,500K-$10,500K conditioned claiming race is open to three year olds and up, all seven runners here are three year olds. The longer prices in this race seem to be overmatched, but there’s not much that separates the shorter ones. I’ll try Z’s So Good (#4) on top, dropping out of starter allowance company to face this level here. She was 4th on a day where early speed was king here, so getting on a track that is playing fairly will help. She was improving at Penn National before hitting a wall against better last out. The runner up from that race came back to win in her next start, so she was facing some talent. Both Dart (#5) and Outlaw Country (#6) are two-time winners in a field where everyone else has only one. Dart has been ultra-consistent for Claudio Gonzalez, finishing in the money 11 of 14 times in his career. He’s not flashy, but he always seems to be near the leaders at the end of the race. Outlaw Country is coming off a 5th place finish on 5/14, which was the same day Z’s So Good ran. He too could have been negatively affected by the speed bias as Fenway took that field gate to wire. He should be a little closer to the pace today, similar to where he was sitting when he broke his maiden at Aqueduct in December. My Eagle Soars (#7)is one that is worth covering on deeper tickets. He tried turf for his local debut and came up empty. His last two starts on dirt were solid though, breaking his maiden three abc at Tampa and finishing a game second to a next out winner two back.
The Late Pick-5 begins with a maiden special weight race for New Jersey breds, sprinting six furlongs. There was a race at this condition going 5 and ½ furlongs last month that was split into two divisions. Grouch (#3) was second in that race behind Bustin Loose, who came back to clear the state bred N1X allowance condition last week. I thought he ran a strong race for his debut that day, for a barn that doesn’t usually have their runners fully cranked at first asking. I’ll give him the edge over Max’s Glory (#5) was narrowly defeated in the slower of the two races. He was making his first start of the year in that race and was also running on dirt for the first time. Chuck Spina started off this meet well, winning three times and having another six runners finish in the money. I’ll give a look to the second time starter, Uncaptured Deputy (#1) here for Greg Sacco. His debut was a disaster, breaking slowly then being forced to steady behind runners. I liked his full sister, Parisian Vibe, who was narrowly defeated in a claiming race on the turf yesterday. She broke her maiden on the dirt in her second start though.
The Late Pick-4 today is a strong sequence with some competitive allowance races, the stakes race, and a strong maiden special weight race at the end of the card. This is a strong six furlong sprint under optional $25K claiming/N2X allowance conditions. There’s a lot of early speed signed on, so I’m looking for a horse that might be able to close from off of the pace. I landed on Senate Chamber (#10), making his first start since finishing 5th at long odds in the Zia Park Derby. He was working at Oaklawn this spring, but wasn’t ready to return there. Hollendorfer brought him to the Jersey Shore, where he flourished last year. He won three times here and finished a close second in his other start. Even though he ended the year running strictly in two turn races, he won both races at this distance last year. He was very competitive at this level at Delaware last year, losing by less than a length in that race. I’m looking for a strong effort in his return today. Powerfully Built (#9) is another horse course in this spot. This seven year old gelding has run 22 on this oval and has finished first or second in 13 of those races. He can win in a variety of ways, so his versatility is a big selling point for me. He was a winner on synthetic three starts back, rallying from seventh to win going away. He was a gate to wire here last season in claiming company when Ronald Abrams claimed him. Since then, he’s been moved to Jack Abrams’ Stable, but both men are listed as co-owners. His last three efforts have been sharp, so he feels like a definite contender here. Magical Warrior (#6) finished in front of him in a Florida Bred Stakes race at Tampa at the end of March, beating Lightening Larry, who came back to dominate the Mr. Prospector Stakes here last month. Magical Warrior left himself with a little too much work to do on a day where his rival ran his eyeballs out. He’ll make his second start on this oval, with the red hot Samy Camacho keeping the mount. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with Swot Analysis (#8), who was a freak in state bred company this winter at the Fair Grounds. He was not able to sustain the same form when facing this level of runners at Aqueduct last month though. There’s other speed horses that are going to make his job more difficult, but if he’s able to replicate his Fair Grounds form here, he’ll be a threat.
Race 9, The $100K Lady’s Secret Stakes:
Today’s feature is a part of a nice series of stakes races for fillies and mares that leads up to the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher Stakes on the Haskell undercard next month. Leader of the Band (#4) won this race in the slop last year, and if she runs her usual race, I think she’s going to retain her title. She’s looking to win a stakes race for the third consecutive year on this oval, as she was the winner of the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks back in 2021. She ran a big race to be second at long odds last year in the Molly Pitcher last year and would go on to win a restricted stakes race at Saratoga. She went off form at the end of the year, but certainly looked as good as new when she was second to Distinctlypossible in the Serena’s Song Stakes last month, while making her 2023 debut. That Chad Brown filly ran huge that day, when Leader of the Band was the pacesetter in a race where there wasn’t much early speed signed on. There’s not a ton of early speed again today, especially if Gerrymander (#2) defects from this race. I don’t think she necessarily wants to be on the lead, but she can certainly handle doing so. Chad Brown has a pair of Klaravich runners entered with Signal From Noise (#1) and Gerrymander. Samy Camacho rides first call for Brown at this meet and he’s named to ride Signal From Noise. No rider is named on Gerrymander, so I’d think that one won’t be participating. Even if she does, I’m against her in this spot, and I’d prefer to use the stablemate. Signal From Noise has four career tries, all of them going a one turn mile on the main track. She’s won two of those race and finished second in the other two. She closed powerfully to clear the N1X condition back in March at Gulfstream. She’s been off since and is bred to handle two turns. I’m not sure she’s up to the task of beating a mare like Leader of the Band at this point in her career, and I’m not sure that the price differential will be what it would need for me to take a swing against the favorite.
The last turf race of the afternoon is a highly competitive N1X allowance race going 1 mile and 1/16. With Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher both represented in this race, I think there’s a chance to get solid value on some other horses. I’m going to a longshot on top, using Affable Monarch (#7). He interests me coming back on the grass for Jorge Duarte. He won his debut on the dirt in 2021, but has gone winless since. He ran solid races in the Mid-Atlantic region last year, but has been unable to come up with that elusive second victory. He was wide and a bit flat when making his first start of 2023 on the dirt at Pimlico last month. Duarte brings him back to the turf for the first time since finishing 5th in the Tale of the Cat Stakes last year. While he was off the board, his Beyer Speed Figure was the highest of his career at that time, when making his second start off the layoff. He’s a half to the Grade 1 winner on turf, Force the Pass and his dam, Social Queen, was a Grade 3 winner herself on the lawn. He feels like a horse that could be overlooked big time here, but certainly could be capable of blowing up the toteboard at odds of 15-1 (ML) or higher. Breakwater (#4) for Shug McGaughey is my top pick. I’m willing to draw a line through his last race at Belmont where he ran poorly over a good course. He’s run his best races on very firm courses, which is what he’s going to be getting this afternoon. His return effort at Gulfstream two back, when making his first start of 2023, was sharp, and a repeat of that effort would definitely put him right in the thick of things in this race. He has enough tactical speed to sit a very friendly trip near the front end in this race. Quality G (#5) makes his first start of 2023 for Pletcher today, and has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. He was very good last year, leading in the stretch of both the Jersey Derby and the Tale of the Cat Stakes, but was nailed on the wire in both of those races. We know he likes the course, but it is interesting to see Jairo Rendon riding instead of Lopez, who rode him in those stakes races last year. Rendon has done well with limited opportunities for Pletcher at Monmouth, winning three of eight times over the last two seasons. Basso (#10) is another longshot that I see as an interesting runner in this race. He’s been competitive on the turf at this level in the past. He just missed against a softer field at this level last month, despite having a less than ideal trip. He’s posted wide once again here, which is not ideal. He ran well in the John Forbes Memorial race at two miles at Far Hills last fall, so he definitely has a stamina edge over other rivals in this field. He might be better suited for a nine or eleven furlong race at this level, but he’s shown that he’s capable of finishing well. Forever Souper (#11) is a runner that is stuck on the AE list, but he could be a factor if he draws in. He faded to 6th, beaten only a length in the same race that Basso was just second in. I don’t love his post for his style, but I do think he’ll be more fit after getting that first race since last July under his belt.
A two turn maiden special weight race for three year olds and up will wrap up the Saturday card. There’s a pair of New York based second time starters that I’ll use on top in this race, making Disappearance (#6) my top pick. Robert Falcome has brought several sharp runners to this meet, winning with 5 of 12 starters and having another five hot the board. This Good Magic gelding was a little slow into stride when facing a solid field of sprinters at this level at Belmont last month. Falcone has good numbers with both second time starters and horses going from sprints to routes. He’s built to be a two turn horse, so switching circuits to get a two turn race under his belt makes sense. Chad Brown sends out Army Times (#1) for his second start as well. He debuted against four other rivals in a maiden allowance at Aqueduct at the end of March. He showed some early interest before backing up to finish 4th. He’s another runner that should be better at two turns. His dam, Paid Up Subscriber, was best known for winning the Shuvee Stakes by 32+ lengths back in 2017. Prior to that race, she gave the champion mare, Songbird, all she could handle in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. Brown gave him a bit of time and he’s been training locally for his return. Rush Center (#2) would be another runner that I’d use here. He was a fast closer third on a day where closers were struggling to get home last month. He was claimed for $50K by Robert Mosco two starts back. He was losing ground in that last start, but was able to re-rally after backing off a solid pace. I like his pattern of speed figures coming into this race, pairing his first two Beyer figures, moving forward in start three and then matching that figure in his fourth try. I see him as a horse that could be sitting on a bigger effort here.
Top Pick Winners: 28/104 (26.9%) – $174.40/ $1.68 ROI
The afternoon started off with some bombs as Abe Honestly and Vikram combined to take home the early double, paying over $500 for the $2 wager. Even with the heavy favorite, Flip My Id winning the last leg, no one picked all five horses correctly, which will force a $23K carryover into the Win-Early Pick-5 for tomorrow.
Lost Ark, who was the dominant winner of the Sapling Stakes last year, made his first start of 2023 a winning one. He made a powerful, wide bid on the turn in the 6th race yesterday, clearing the N2X condition with ease. He drew off to win by four lengths and would appear to be stakes bound for his next start.
It was another tough day for my personal ROI, as I lost two photos with horses that went off at 5-1 in the 3rd and 5th races. Parisian Vibe ran a big race in defeat, finishing a fast closing second after being pinched back at the start. She’s been a horse that hows speed in her previous races, so making a strong late run after being near the back of the field shows a new dimension for her. I’d play her back at the right level in her next start, especially if she gets to go 5 and ½ furlongs.