There’s a 10 race program today at Monmouth headlined by the $100K Lady’s Secret Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 Mile and 1/16 on the main track. This race is named for the 1986 Horse of the Year, who won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and the Whitney that year. She also won the Molly Pitcher on this oval that incredible season. If you’re visiting Monmouth Park, definitely make sure to check out the Lady’s Secret Cafe and Paddock Bar. I’ll be looking to see how the main track will be playing today. Horses coming from off the pace won four of the six dirt races yesterday, coming with wide moves over a track that appeared to be very tiring. One of the two runners that was forwardly placed yesterday was a 1-9 favorite. I’m definitely interested to see how the horses that ran on yesterday’s card come back over the next few weeks. It looks like a comfortable afternoon today at the Jersey Shore, with high temperatures in the lower 70’s. First post is 12:15 ET this afternoon.
I’ll be covering the Monmouth Park meet for the second straight 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|
|2||4||4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||4||4,7||9||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||2||2||4,5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||1||1,9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
New Jersey breds start the afternoon on the turf in this maiden special weight contest going 1 Mile and 1/16 out of the turf chute. Three females are entered with five males in this race where the morning line favorite, Surfing (#6) has been beaten by a combined total of 70 lengths in his last two starts. In fairness, both of those races were on the main track and he definitely prefers the turf. He’s a player in this race, and despite his 0-11 record, he’s come close enough on grass to use him on the A line. However, I’m going to try one of the three year old fillies, Her Name Is Lola (#3) on top. She makes her first start since February for Kent Sweezey and her first start while running with Lasix. Her turf race with open $32K maiden claimers back in January wasn’t terrible. She broke from post 10 and had a wide journey in her last try. She’s been given a little time to develop and faces several unknown commodities here. Kaz Sweet Heist (#8) makes his 5th career start after finishing second in his first career try at two turns last month. He was sent off at even money when trying something new for the first time that day, and now he’ll have another new experience, competing on turf. Candy Ride is the dam sire, so there’s a little more turf ability in his pedigree than some of the others here. His trainer has poor numbers with turf horses, but there’s not a ton of depth to this field.
I often look to try to find races where I can create value when playing against a horse that Paco Lopez rides at this meet. His horses get pounded at the windows, which is understandable, seeing as how he’s dominated the local jockey colony for the last decade. This may be one of the races though, where there’s fair value on one of his mounts, Last Romance (#4). He’s the second choice on the morning line, and I think he’ll go into the gate that way seeing as how the NYRA invader, Dot’s Dollar (#3) will be starting in the stall next door. I think Paco’s mount has a huge chance in this open N1X allowance today, coming in after a dominating performance with New Jersey bred N1X allowance company on opening day. He’s third off the layoff, and I think after a few races going in longer one turn races, he’s found a home going six furlongs on dirt. Cathal Lynch has started four horses at the meet so far, and all of his starters have finished second or better. He’s stakes placed and improving with each start. I think he gets the perfect trip, just off the early pace. Dot’s Dollar is the 6-5 morning line favorite shipping in from Belmont for Tom Morley. He’s been perfect since being claimed for $50K at the Fair Grounds in February. He’s been installed as the favorite off a very fast score at Belmont with $50K starter allowance company last month. However, that performance came in the slop in an off the turf race, where he was allowed to set a moderate pace for a six furlong contest. I’m expecting that he’ll be under a bit more pressure today with Grooms All Bizness (#5) and Rhumjar (#6) in the outside gates. I’ll take a stand here with Last Romance, affording more opportunities to spread in other legs of the early sequences.
$12,500-$10,500 maiden claimers go six furlongs here. I’ll try Let Freedom Spring (#7) to pull the upset off the claim for Edmund Pringle. Both Pringle and jockey, Winston Kay, are looking for their first wins of 2022. As a result, I think it’s possible we’ll get better than 9-2 (ML). He’s been gelded since his last start and cuts back to a sprint here. He ran credible sprint races against better fields in New York in the past. Todd Pletcher doesn’t have too many $14K purchases in his stable, but he does have Sir Cupid (#1) debuting here with Paco Lopez aboard. I can’t imagine there’s going to be much value here, and I might shy away if he’s cold on the board. However, I’m not sold on many of his rivals here, and I’m not going to get knocked out of the Pick-5 because I didn’t use this one. On deeper tickets, Picarde (#6) is worth a look in his second career start. He debuted at two turns with maiden special weight company where he was no match for his rivals there. I don’t love the cutback, but he’s sired by Speightster, so perhaps one turn will be the better trip for him, while also taking a considerable drop in class. Anthony Foglia is off to a decent start at the meet, winning with two of his first nine starters.
I’m looking to Tindari (#2) in this $25K starter allowance for fillies and mares that have also never won twice. She won on debut at Tampa in April with $16K maiden claimers. She shipped here for start number two, where she was bumped pretty hard at the start, and then ran on to 4th against a better field. She drops slightly, while remaining protected in a race where it looks like she can drop in off the early speed and make a run late. Li’l Miss Camile (#1) was a Gerald Bennett re-claim at Tampa over the winter. She’s been sidelined since March, but has been working well over the local oval for her return. Bennett has been off to a good start at the meet, and he does well when adding blinkers. Happy Ride (#6) is the morning line favorite, most likely because of a huge effort to break her maiden with $40K maiden claimers two starts back. She regressed a bit last out while facing optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance company. The winner in that race dominated her competition, so this should be solid class relief for Happy Ride.
The final leg of the Win-Early Pick-5 sequence is a solid N1X allowance race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. Midnight Diva (#4) is the top pick, making her third start off the layoff today. She was steadily improving on the grass last spring in Southern California, finishing 3rd in the Grade Honeymoon Stakes last May. She struggled at Del Mar and afterwards went to the sidelines until changing barns and resurfacing in March at Gulfstream in a dirt sprint. She had a wide trip, but ran an improved race at Gulfstream in April. She should be more fit and ready to fire in this spot. Shad Nation (#7) was under consideration for the Grade 3 Wonder Again on Thursday, but Christophe Clement opted for this spot instead. She’s also in her third race off the layoff, running competitive races in the Sanibel Island at Gulfstream and a strong N1X allowance race at Keeneland so far. Paco Lopez takes the mount, which certainly doesn’t hurt her chances. On deeper tickets, Feets of Feather (#9) is one of two runners that Kathleen O’Connell will be sending out in this race. This mare recently joined her barn after running a solid second in starter allowance company. She always seems to run competitive races on the grass at a variety of conditions. She’ll have to overcome a wide draw, but she likes to hang out near the back of the pack and come with one late run.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5 – $40.50 Ticket
I’m very bullish on Last Romance (#4, R2) in this sequence. I liked her a lot prior to watching the races yesterday, and after seeing how the track was playing, I like her even more today. I don’t think she’ll offer great value, but I do think the NYRA invader will also take a decent amount of money. I’ll go three deep in the other four legs in hopes of hooking a few decent prices.
The Late Pick-5 gets underway with this six horse, conditioned $5K claiming contest. Youshouldbesolucky (#2) is the one that could be rolling late here. He makes his 4th consecutive start for the 4th different trainer after being claimed in his last three starts. He’s been knocking on the door at this level, but hasn’t won a race on the main track in almost a whole year (18 starts ago). I’m willing to draw a line through his last race where he was sent to the front by default in a paceless race. He showed that is not his style, as he faded once he was confronted. I expect to see different tactics employed today. If the track is playing fairly, Awesummer (#5) would be a horse that I would use prominently. He’s taking a significant drop in class this afternoon after fading with better in his local debut last month. He was a winner two back at Laurel though, when he led every step of the way. It was not easy to take a field gate to wire yesterday though, and if the track continues to play like that today, he’d be one I’d downgrade a bit. Summer Bourbon (#4) is the morning line favorite that I’ll be covering with on some of my tickets. He was awful on a sloppy course here last month, thus providing him with an excuse for such a poor race. He’s typically at his best when he’s closely attending the pace, and if those horses are struggling again today, it might be his day.
This $16K-$14K maiden claiming race on the turf feels very wide open. I’m going to try to get out of this leg using only two price runners. Wizard Serrat (#1) is my top pick, making his turf debut after a series of solid efforts at Fort Erie. His trainer, Juan Avila, has good numbers with horses trying turf for the first time. His efforts on the Tapeta track at Gulfstream have been solid enough to make me think that he can go forward here. Toward the outside stall, Mister Fernando (#9) might be able to have an impact with this group of runners. He just missed last out at this level of competition at Tampa. He’s coming off a career best effort, so whether or not that race was a fluke remains to be seen. He is an improving four year old gelding, so there’s a real chance that he can continue to build off that bigger effort.
Race 8: The $100K Lady’s Secret Stakes:
In addition to the winner’s share of the $100K purse, the winner also gets a fees paid berth into the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher Stakes on the Haskell Undercard next month. This race seems ripe for a closer to me, especially if both Boston Post Road (#1) and Beth’s Dream (#6) stay in the race. Both of those four year old fillies are making their first starts around two turns. Both are definitely fast, but I think they could easily make each other miserable in this spot. I’m still holding out hope that the version of Leader of the Band (#7) from 2021 will make an appearance in 2022. She was dull in the Serena’s Song, where she didn’t break cleanly. She finished an even 4th, never factoring in the outcome of the race. She finds a field that should give her a nice pace to close into here. I think she is one to watch for late in this race. Moraz (#3) is coming out of the same race, and both of these fillies were flattered when the winner, Miss Leslie, came back to win the Obeah Stakes this week at Delaware. Moraz made her local debut, which was also a return to dirt racing in that race. She moved into second, but was no match for the winner that day. Her only off the board finish in a race on dirt came in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks last year. She is another filly that has shown some promise, but definitely has the ability to improve. Wholebodemeister (#4) won the Davona Dale last year at Gulfstream before an injury put her on the sidelines for almost 13 months. She came back against a decent starter handicap field at Tampa going seven furlongs. She was a little rusty that day, finishing third. She;s had a few minor complications, so she’s making her second start off the layoff today. She might be more effective next time, but she could be in position to get first run on some of the frontrunners.
This maiden special weight race is one of the more interesting and wide open races on the card. Prima Ballerina (#7) showed interest in the turf over the winter at the Fair Grounds, She ran well there, but went back to the main track after that strong third place finish. She struggled against a stacked field at this level at Keeneland in her most recent start, Trombetta gave her two months off and brings her back to the turf, which might suit her well. Gold Watch (#2) is one to keep an eye on in the later stages of this one. She rallied into second in a four horse, off the turf race here last month. She’s 0-8 in her career, but she has been steadily improving over the last several months. I suspect that she has another forward move to give here. Faith in Humanity (#11) is a Chad Brown first timer, who draws a less than ideal post position for his American debut. This son of Lope de Vega has several respectable workouts over the dirt course to build her fitness and stamina for this race. Brown has yet to win at the meet, but his runners have getting close, so he feels due to win at this meet soon. On deeper tickets, I’d cover with both Hard Rock Winner (3) and Lazara (#5). Both are fillies that have shown some interest in their few races thus far. Hard Rock Winner comes back to the grass after a pair of route races, one on synthetic and one on the dirt here. This will be his first turf route, which may suit her better. Lazara comes back to the turf after faltering at Horseshoe Indiana last out in an off the turf race. She moved early two back at Tampa, before leveling off to be third. There is some upside here as well.
The nightcap is a $7,500-$6,500 N3L claiming race for fillies and mares going 5 and ½ furlongs on the dirt. Salamina (#1) is one of the more consistent entrants in this field. She was entered with a slightly tougher conditioned $8K-$7K claiming field in her local debut where she finished an even 3rd. She has a win on both turf and dirt in her career and she gets the father/son duo of Calixto and Nik Juarez to train and ride. Akemi (#5) is the morning line favorite and the filly to beat if she’s able to run back to her most recent effort at Gulfstream last month. She’s never run on this course, and she’s a three year old filly taking on older rivals here. Because of that I don’t love the short price, but she does fit from a speed and class standpoint in this race.
Top Pick Winners: 28/112 (25%) – $252.50/ $2.25 ROI