Friday’s twilight card offers six competitive races with a pair of solid runners from the Todd Pletcher barn in the co-featured optional claiming/allowance races this evening. One of them looks very logical and the other is one that I’m going to try to beat. After two weeks of racing, Jose Ferrer sits atop jockey standings with nine wins, while Kelly Breen and Wayne Potts are tied with five wins apiece. As usual, post time for the first race on Fridays is 5:00.
|1||2,6||5||7||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|2||7||5||3||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|3||1,2,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 2
The opener is an evenly matched starter allowance contest for fillies and mares at 1 Mile on the main track. I like Unbridledadventure (2), shipping in from Parx, to nail the front runners on the wire. She has hit the board in her last seven races, winning four of them, including two at this same condition. I think she gets a decent pace in front of her as both Oceano Rosso (1) and Gambit’s Girl (6) seem to be intent on making the early lead. Jockey Carlos Montalvo has only five wins in 2021, but three of them have been at this meet, including a win on a $29 horse on Sunday. Gambit’s Girl is going to be a tough mare to run down, even if Oceano Rosso softens her up early. She tried two turns for the first time in her 23 race career last out in an N1X allowance race at Parx, finishing a determined second place at 9-1 odds. The chart caller noted that the saddle slipped on this one last out, and when you go back and watch the race on the head on replay, you can see that happened earlier on in the race, as they were turning into the backstretch. You could see jockey Dexter Haddock look down several times, making sure that he was going to be able to safely continue riding the race while this horse was on the lead. As a result, the second quarter was almost a second faster than the first quarter mile. I thought he gave a great ride under the circumstances, but that equipment issue might have been enough cost her the win, as she was only beaten a half length on the wire. She finished in front of 4-5 favorite, Always A Queen, who came back on beat a N1X allowance field on 6/2. The presence of Oceano Rosso to her inside is enough for me to look for better value with the top pick, but I think she is a definite player in this race. Lucy’s Town (5) was focused on turf racing this winter and spring was she based in Florida for Jose Delgado, winning twice and narrowly missing in her last start at Tampa. She switches back to the dirt, and comes back to Monmouth, where she has never finished off the board in three tries on this course. She’s another one that will likely benefit from a hot pace on the front end. On deeper tickets, Maryland shipper, Nana’s Shoes (7), comes in after two solid efforts with $5K starter allowance foes at Laurel and Pimlico. She’s been second or third twice as many times as she’s finished first, so she’s more likely to be a factor underneath. However, she is third off the layoff and in good form, so she is still worth considering.
Race 2: Top Pick: 7
The feature race today also starts the Pick-5 wager, and it’s going to be tough to beat the Todd Pletcher runner, Summer To Remember (7) in this optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance. As a three year old, he ran into some extremely talented turf horses when running in four straight, non-graded stakes races. He was beaten by Decorated Invader, Field Pass, Gufo, and Colonel Liam, all of which went on to win graded stakes afterwards. He faced salty fields at this level at Gulfstream and Belmont, where he finished 6th both times. He ships here and gets some class relief while staying at the same level of competition. Paco Lopez rode here for the first time last weekend and won 6 times, enough to propel him to 4th place in the jockey standings already. He gets the call on this four year old colt who will likely be a short priced, but very logical favorite. Reconvene (5) will be the main danger, making the first start of his four year old season today for Kelly Breen. Like Summer to Remember, he is also sired by Summer Front, who continues to be a strong North American turf sire. He used wins in a maiden special weight and N1X allowance race on this course to send him to stakes company, running strong efforts with good fields at Pimlico (on the Preakness undercard) and at Keeneland (on the Breeders’ Cup undercard). Toss his last in the Gio Ponti at Aqueduct where he came up empty and he certainly fits in this race. Nik Juarez rode two winners for Breen on the Sunday card, and he gets the call today. He might need this race off the layoff to beat a horse as good as the favorite, but he’s definitely worth covering. On deeper tickets, perhaps give a look to Megacity (3). He came out of nowhere to run monster races in both the Grade 3 Red Bank and the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes on this course last year. He made his seasonal debut in an off the turf sprint here two weeks ago, which really served as a public workout where he could stretch his legs. I’m not certain can return to that excellent form from the fall, but if his odds float up from the 5-1 morning line, he might be a value play to think about.
Race 3: Top Pick: 6
Six three year old fillies go 6 Furlongs in this optional $40K claiming/starter allowance contest. Tampa invaders, Fan Fan (1) and Sky Dazzle (2) are going to take most of the money, and both belong on your tickets, but I’m going to take a swing and try to add value to the ticket by using Charles Town invader, Shecanflatoutplay (6) as my top pick. She’s been away since March after decimating a maiden special weight field going 7 Furlongs in West Virginia. She’s had three works over this track, including a sharp looking bullet on 5/26. Jesus Cruz has won with 20% the horses he’s sent out in 2021 and he was a perfect 2-2 with horses he brought to Monmouth last year that were ridden by Tomas Mejia. She has never run in a claiming race, so she’s the only filly entered with the $40K tag today, which I don’t mind. She has already earned twice the amount on the track that her owners paid for her, so they would be adding to their profits if she were to be claimed for $40K. I also think this a softer field than she would face if she was entered in an allowance race under the N1X conditions. Fan Fan and She Dazzle met in a five furlong turf sprint at the N1X allowance level at Tampa last out, with She Dazzle finishing in front of Fan Fan. Fan Fan was a winner with similar though back in February, dominating that field by 7 and ½ lengths. I’ll give her the slight edge over She Dazzle, who only has a maiden win, but gets the services of leading rider Jose Ferrer.
Race 4: Top Pick: 4
I’m going to try to beat the Todd Pletcher runner, Candy Tycoon (3) who will be making his four year old debut today in this two turn, optional claiming/N1X allowance race. After finishing a distant second to Ete Indien in the 2020 Fountain of Youth, he tried running in some Derby prep races such as the Florida Derby and the Peter Pan. He is not that caliber of horse, so Pletcher had him try two allowance races at Saratoga to conclude his three year old season, finishing 2nd in August and 5th in September. Pletcher brought him down here from Saratoga, where he has worked okay, but not great. Perhaps he’s here because he won’t have the opportunity to run two turns in New York until Saratoga opens next month, but I’m not sold this first time gelding is the goods. I will cover him on deeper tickets though, as I do think he’ll get a positive pace set up. I’ll try Glory Song (4) on top, coming in from Parx for Jamie Ness. Ness had a winner here last Friday that was running well at Parx, and he is another one certainly fits that description. He has one win and four second place finishes in his last five dirt starts there. He tried the turf last week at Delaware and was not interested. He gets back on the main track and his on or near the lead running style should play well on this track. No one in this race is in better form than Exchequer (6) who has four wins and a narrow loss in a photo in his last five tries, all in claiming company. He moves up in class, but is running with the $16K tag, while chasing the larger purse money available for a race like this. I’m not sure he’s as good as the other two, but it’s hard to knock a horse that has been on such a good roll.
Race 5: Top Pick: 3
This is a tough $10K maiden contest at 5 and ½ Furlongs, so I’ll definitely want some coverage in this spot. Dontlosethatnumber (3) might be the fastest from the gate of the speed and fade types in this race. Her two tries on dirt have both been with maiden special weight fields at longer distances. She makes her first start since February when she ran a dull 9th with in her first try with maiden claiming types. There’s not a lot of horses that have proven they can pass horses, so she may be able to keep going on the front end if she’s ridden aggressively from the gate. Adding blinkers might suggest that is the plan. I’d be more than happy to take a shot with her anywhere near the 10-1 morning line figure. Streetcar Jones (4) drops in class after fading in an off the turf race with a $16K maiden claiming field here last Monday. She finds a soft field with many speed and fade types in her second start since joining the Wayne Potts barn. Cookies and Cream (5) was my top pick at this level last Monday when she made the early lead, but had no fight when she was passed going into the turn, fading to finish a distant third. She was the favorite that day and she makes her second start off the three month layoff. She has more competitive races in her running lines, so improvement could be expected. She’ll have to win the early battle with Dontlosethatnumber and still have something left for the stretch. There are two first time starters in here and the one the interests more is another Charles Town shipper from the Jesus Diaz barn, Wave Jumper (8). She has published works that go back to the end of January on the six furlong oval in West Virginia. I might have made her my top pick, had there not been a gap of a month between her last two published workouts. I don’t know enough about Jesus Diaz to know if this a common trend for him with unraced horses, but I still think she might be worth including as her connections feel it’s worth making the four hour drive Charles Town to Oceanport.
Race 6: Top Pick: 7
The nightcap is a turf sprint for three year olds and up that have never won three races, starting for a $20K-$18K tag. Wayne Potts has two runners, both coming off wins in New York, and both looking live in this race. I’ll try The Big S (7) on top, making his second career start on the turf today. He ran with better earlier in his career, but seems to have found the right level of competition in these conditioned claiming races. He has two seconds and a win in his last three starts in N2L claiming at Aqueduct on the dirt. He moves to N3X company (which despite being listed at that, this is an N3L race), and tries the turf for the first time since September of 2019. That race, with considerably better foes, wasn’t bad, and his sire, Jimmy Creed can definitely produce turf sprinters. I think he can sit a good trip just off the speed and make a run late. Navarro has won three times in six starts at this meet already for Potts. Our Destiny (4) is the other horse from the Potts barn, and this son of Freud, who is one of my favorite turf sprint sires, looks to be the pacesetter they’ll have to catch. He took a $40K N2L gate to wire last out at Belmont, going off at 37-1. He runs for a lower a tag today and cuts back to five furlongs. I think he’s better at 5 and ½ or 6 Furlongs, but this is not the fleetest field, so I think Paco Lopez should be able to get him to the front. Bee By The Sea (6) is another one that might be better at slightly longer distances, but he’ll be flying late if he can get the trip. Traffic hindered his best effort in his last start when going five furlongs three back at Tampa. He followed that up with two decent efforts at two turns, including a game 4th place finish in N1X allowance company. He drops back to the claiming ranks and returns to the course where he’s had both of his two career victories. Leading rider, Jose Ferrer, gets the call here.
Pick-5 Ticket: $36.00
Race 2: 7
Race 3: 1, 2, 6
Race 4: 4, 6
Race 5: 3, 4, 5, 8
Race 6: 4, 6, 7
Meet Stats: 21/66 (Top Pick Winners) – $126.60 / $1.92 ROI per $2 win bet