There’s a competitive 8 race card that will start the week of racing at Monmouth Park this afternoon. New Jersey breds will be featured today with a pair of optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance sprints. Colts and geldings will compete in the 4th race and the 6th race is reserved for fillies and mares, with both races carded at six furlongs. There is a chance for some bad weather later on in the day, but I’m hoping it will hold off. First post for the Friday afternoon program is 2:00 (ET).
I’ll be covering the Monmouth Park meet for the third 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|
|1||7||7||3,9||5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||3||3,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|3||9||9||3,4,6||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|4||7||7||5,6||DBL, PK3, PK 5|
|5||3||3,5,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The first race of the day is an interesting five furlong dash for conditioned $40K-$30K claimers. This is an open claiming spot for three year olds, while older runners can only have one career win on their resume. I think on grass, Apache Tears (#7) is faster than this field. His Equibase turf figures are considerably higher than any of the other runners in this race. However, his turf Beyers don’t stand out as much, meaning that there is a chance that he could be undervalued by the betting public in this race. He’s coming out of a contentious N1X allowance race on the grass at Keeneland, where three runners, including two that he finished in front of, have come back to win in their next starts. This will be the first time that he’ll be offered for a tag, so the class relief that he’ll be getting will be significant. I see him as being better than his rivals in this race. I think there are a pair of three year olds that are interesting in this spot, and if the price is right, I’d be willing to upgrade them. Bustinupishardtodo (#3) is lightly raced, but he has two wins, both of which came on the dirt. He tried the turf for the first time on Preakness Day, finishing 6th that afternoon. He was beaten by Rock The Boat that day, who was much the best while getting back on the turf. His dam did her best work on the turf and his sire, Bustin Stones, gets 16% winners in turf sprints. I see more upside here than with most in his second try on the grass. No Deliberation (#9) will need a defection in order to participate as he’s on the also-eligible list here. Jorge Delgado is bringing him up from Gulfstream after two consecutive wins on the Tapeta there. These kinds of horses have been winning frequently early on at the meet for this barn. His dam was stakes placed in a turf sprint at Kentucky Downs and his sire, Twirling Candy, also gets 16% winners with turf sprinters. Jerry’s Turn (#5) is going to take some money at the windows off a pair of very nice efforts at Gulfstream. However, he’s strictly going to be a saver on the deepest tickets for me, at least from a multi-race wagering perspective. It took this Girolamo gelding 27 times before graduating from the maiden ranks, finally breaking through on April 1st on synthetic at Gulfstream. He followed that effort up with a solid third place finish in starter allowance company there two weeks later. He’s proven that he’s capable while sprinting on the turf, but he’s much more likely to finish second or third, a feat that he’s accomplished 15 times in his career.
A field of six will be set to go 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track in this conditioned $5K claiming race. All six runners are eligible under the condition that they have not won twice in six months. I loved Icy Storm (#6) in a similar race two weeks ago making him a single that day. He did not disappoint me as he was a come from behind winner that day. He makes a ton of sense to repeat again today for a barn that does very well with runners that are coming off a win, winning 24% of those races since 2022. I’ll certainly be using him on the A line, however, I don’t think we’ll be getting 2-1 on him this time. That number was a shade lower than I wanted to go get him two weeks ago, so after that effort, I’d imagine he’d be closer to even money when the gates open today. At those odds, I’ll look to try to beat him on top, making The Method (#3) my top pick. John McAllen claimed him on behalf of Kingdom Racing in March for this $5K tag. He was dominant that day, coming from off the pace to score by six easy lengths on the wire in a nine furlong route at Parx. McAllen brought him here and had him ambitiously placed with time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claimers last month. He led briefly in that race before fading to 6th. He drops in class to a more reasonable spot, and he’s been fairly consistent when racing at the right level. One thing that I’ve noticed about McAllen’s horses at Monmouth is that they are often placed in races where they are overmatched, which has been part of the reason for his lower win percentage. However, when his horses are well-spotted, they are typically competitive and they’re typically overlooked. I’ll hope for that to be the case with this Algorithms gelding.
A field of nine two year old fillies will sprint five furlongs on the dirt here. Two of the nine runners ran two weeks ago in the first maiden allowance of the meet. The other seven entrants will be making their debuts today. This race is smack dab in the middle of the Win-Early Pick-5, but it will be the first leg of the Jersey Shore-6, so if you’re playing that wager, you’ll be able to get a look at these runners on track and you’ll be able to see if there are any wagering trends that might help build a case for someone or point you in another direction. This is another race where I’m hoping to get a little bit of value by taking Ilikeitlikethat (#9) on top. I’m hoping that bettors remember that Pletcher brought Munny’s Gold on this Friday last year, the day before Haskell Preview Day. That filly embarrassed her rivals, winning by 14 and ½ lengths and earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. Hopefully that memory will keep the price on Lady Blitz (#6) lower than it should be. In addition, that runner is owned by MyRacehorse, and their runners tend to be overbet due to the number of owners of micro-shares of their horses. Ilikeitlikethat is bred by Tapit, who, while being known for his distance runners, still has had 16% winners with two year old first time starters in dirt sprints over the past five years. She’ll be the first runner to hit the track from the dam, Noble Freud, who was dominant gate to wire winner in her debut. The works at Parx are good enough for Butch Reid to bring her up from Parx. His numbers with first time starters are very good. He is only 1 for 7 in the past five years here with first time starters, but four of those six runners to lose their debut, would go on to be stakes winners. The only debut winner, Mainstay, would go on to finish second in the Grade 3 Schuylerville in her next start. Paco Lopez, who had two more winners on Sunday, will take the mount, suggesting that my value will be limited. However, I see this illy as the one to beat in this race and I’m willing to make her the lone “A” line runner for me. I’ll back up with Lady Blitz, as her works are solid. She’ll be the first runner from the freshman crop of Audible, a former Pletcher runner. His biggest career win came in the Florida Derby and he finished third behind eventual Triple Crown Winner, Justify, in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. The dam hasn’t produced much, as her only winner is a horse that has been based in Puerto Rico for his entire career. I’m expecting her to be overbet in this race, but I respect the connections enough to make sure my bases are covered. Anajuliaforever (#4) has been working well for Jorge Delgado, who also does well with his debut runners. She’s sired by Speightster, so the five furlong debut distance should be to her liking. His two year olds have 15% of the time on debut in dirt sprints. The dam is less accomplished and the purchase price in October was on the lower side. However, her local works suggest that she’s live in this spot. Bingo’s Girl (#3) is the one with experience that I’ll be backing up with here. She came within a half length of beating the well-regarded filly, Omaha Girl, two weeks ago, The Beyers from that race came back on the light side though. She showed some early interest and was game to hang in there in a decent stretch battle. I think this field has more depth though, so I’m going to need to get a price that isn’t too far off the 14-1 that she went off at last time.
This is the first of the two co-featured races today as seven New Jersey breds line up in this six furlong event. I like Counterfeitcurrency (#7) a good bit in this race. He’s making his second start of the year for Derek Ryan after faltering against a very sharp group of N1X allowance runners two weeks ago. He followed a similar racing pattern last year where he was dull in her first race off the layoff, but he was much sharper when he ran 15 days later. His form gets a little muddy as his last two races of 2022 came on the turf, so I’m hoping that he is overlooked in this race. His last two races on dirt last year were sharp, finishing third behind Dr. Doyle (#2) at this level and running a good second in open N1X company at long odds on Labor Day Weekend. He showed that day that he can be as effective when stalking the pace and making a late move on the turn, and with the way the track was playing last week, and his post position here, slotted in the outside stall with some cheap speed inside of him, I think he gets the right setup. I think most of the money will be on Great Navigator (#5) in this race, and he makes a ton of sense. He’s entered in here, despite being eligible for the state bred N1X condition. He ran on opening weekend here where he looked like he was much the best on paper, however he could not get by Wild Mule that day. He was a vet scratch two weeks ago in a N1X allowance race where he looked like he had a massive advantage over his rivals. He’s going to be well-backed here and Eddie Owens’ runners have been running big races so far at this meet. However, at short odds, I’m concerned that his ceiling might not be that high and I don’t love that he was forced to call an audible and run above a condition in a race where he’ll likely be an even money favorite. Bustin Loose (#6) was the benefactor when Great Navigator was forced to scratch. He was able to secure an easy lead and clear the N1X condition with ease that day, I think both Pogi (#1) and On the Come Up (#3) will apply more pace pressure than he had to deal with last time. He does like this course though and is trying to be the first three time winner at this current meet.
We head back to the turf for this $20K-$18K N3L claiming race, going 1 mile and 1/16. When rails are at 36 feet, Monmouth allows nine runners to compete, whereas only eight are allowed to go in the sprint races. I’ll try Calloway Peak (#3) on top for James Lawrence. He’s making his second start of the year after a bit of a dull effort in his return at Pimlico last month. He broke his maiden last summer with $40K maiden claimers on the grass at Saratoga and ran very well at Laurel going nine furlongs with conditioned $25K-$20K claimers, rallying from way out of it to get third. He was a little more keen than usual last out, so Lawrence is going to try blinkers off today. He does his best running when making one big closing kick, and while I’m not surehe;s going to get the ideal setup, I like seeing Samy Camacho taking the mount. I’m expecting a better effort from him today. Magical Marriage (#7) couldn’t quite hold on as my 7-1 top pick at this level last month. He rebounded nicely from a disastrous effort two back at Gulfstream when facing better. This feels like the right level of competition for him at this point, so he makes sense to be used on most tickets in this race. Paco Lopez gets the call on Sweeping Giant (#5), who is likely to go into the gate as the favorite. He cleared the N2L condition last out, winning the way you’d expect a 3-5 favorite to do so. He was claimed by Juan Avila out of those races, where he did run a career top Beyer Speed Figure. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a small step back, however, I’ll still use him on the A line, because he could still win this race while slightly regressing.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 Ticket:
I like this sequence a lot today because there are three horses that I have some strong opinions about. I see Apache Tears (#7, R1) as the most likely winner of the opener, but I will cover my bases with some three year olds in that race. I want to try to beat the Pletcher horse in the third race, trying Ilikeitlikethat (#9, R3) as the lone A. I think Counterfeitcurrency (#7, R4) is sitting on a big race while getting a great set up in the 4th. My main ticket is an All-A/B ticket for $36 at the $0.50 base wager, knowing that it will go down to $24 if No Deliberation (#9, R1) is unable to draw in off the AE list. I’m planning on punching the All A ticket ($3 wager for $0.50) a few times, likely more if the AE is out of the opener. I’ll back up with a CxAxAxAxA for $3 and a AxAxAxCxA ticket for $6, which gives me insurance if my single in Race 4 is not able to get home.
New Jersey bred fillies and mares are running in the co-feature stakes race here. Jersey Jewel (#3) is coming out of the Spruce Fir Handicap, which came up very strong. Both Beach Daze and Mia’s Crusade came back to run big races in the Smart N Classy Handicap in their next starts. She is better on a fast track, which she should get here. She followed a similar pattern last year and she did regress when going to this level from stakes company. However, she had a rough trip that day and her effort felt like more of a byproduct of the trouble she faced as opposed to her fitness. I don;t like the cutback in distance for Precious Avary (#4) and I think the race that both Amazing Graces Joy (#2) and Lassie’s Notion (#7) are coming out of was not a very strong state bred N1X race. I’ll opt to use Caliente Rum (#1) as an alternative in this race. Her first start of the year was a dull effort against a solid field of open $10K starter allowance runners last month. She showed a little early interest before backing up badly. She is capable of turning her form around as she won two races at this meet in 2022. She’s had a string of bad races, but I’ll take a chance in her second start off the bench. She’s listed at 15-1 on the morning line, which feels fair based on her current form.
The last turf race of the afternoon is an open $22K-$18K claiming race at 1 mile and 1/16. Three of the nine runners entered in this race finished off the board in the first leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Handicap Series last month. That means they’ll likely be bypassing the next leg in that series, which will be run next weekend. Sandy Lane Kitten (#1) and Shady McGee (#7) are the more consistent runners of that group, and they’re going to be the horses that the other seven are going to have to find a way to beat. Sandy Lane Kitten has more tactical speed and has drawn the rail, which, with the rails out at 36 feet, feels like it will be an advantage. He was moving through along the inside to be 5th last out, beaten less than three lengths in that full field of 12. That was the first trip over the local course for this seven time winner. He’s been seen in several starter handicap races over the last several months, coming close, but coming up just short. The drop in class makes sense, and his rider, Jorge Vargas, ended last week on a high note, winning once on Saturday and once on Sunday with limited opportunities. Shady McGee gets a rider upgrade to Paco Lopez after a miserable trip in that same race, which was also his local debut. He was competitive at this level last year when running for Mike Maker in New York. He hasn’t been the same horse in his last few starts, but the potential is there on drop in class. It’s going to come down to what kind of price we’re going to get on him to determine how much I’ll be using him. Corkman (#5) interests me a little bit in this race, making his first start off the Jerry Hollendorfer claim. He was claimed for $12,500, so this is a decent jump in class, especially moving to open claiming company from a conditioned claiming race. He’s made all but one career start on the dirt and his line race on the grass was an off the board finish at Belmont last year. He wasn’t terrible in that race though and his connections tried to get him on grass three other times, with each of those races coming off the lawn. Hollendorfer has good numbers with first off the claim runners and good numbers with horses switching surfaces. Artie’s Angel (#6) figures to be bet prominently in this race, but he is making his first start of the year in this race. When he was racing for Douglas Nunn, he needed a few starts off the layoff before he hit his best stride. He has been racing for Kelly Breen, who has better numbers than Nunn does off the bench. While I have nothing against Jose Gomez, Paco Lopez, who rode this one toi victory twice on this course last year for Breen, opts to ride Shady McGee for a smaller barn. That feels a bit telling about his chances today. He’ll be a backup on the deeper tickets for me, but I think he’ll be better next time around.
The Friday nightcap is a $12,500-$10,500 maiden claiming race, going 1 mile and 70 yards. While I don’t love professional maidens, it feels like it’s Dad’s On a Roll’s (#3) turn to win. He has eight career starts, but six of those races came on the turf. He’s been second twice at this level, beaten by an open lengths winner both times. He’s been well clear of the other runners that he’s faced in those races, and while others might have a little more upside, he feels like the “now” horse. Perspicacious Boy (#5) is the main danger, making his second career start. He was three lengths behind Dad’s On a Roll when making his debut. Diane Morici claimed him off Derek Ryan that day. She has decent numbers first off the claim, but I’m not sure I love the equipment change of adding blinkers. He figures to be the pacesetter and he could move forward here. If the price discrepancy increases, I’d like this one more.
Top Pick Winners: 31/125 (24.8%) – $185.80/ $1.49 ROI
It was fitting that on Irish Heritage Day at Monmouth Park on Sunday, the featured stakes race was won by Irish Boolum, a 22-1 longshot, with Irish Meadow, a 16-1 longshot, finishing second. The on-track hunch play exacta paid a light $85.10 for one dollar, as I’m sure several patrons in attendance had a similar idea.
While my inclination to try to beat the heavy favorite, He’spuregold in that race was correct, I clearly used the wrong Cathal Lynch runner to beat him. Irish Boolum was tough to come up with in this race. There’s nothing wrong with his pedigree, as he’s one of the many talented horses foaled by Irish Score. That dam produced stakes winner Irish War Cry and Irish Strait. As a son of Exaggerator, it was no surprise to see that his best career effort came in the slop, handily beating an open N1X allowance field at Delaware last fall. Since that race, he had been in a pattern of regression. Lynch gave him a few months off after a dismal effort at Parx in March, which clearly helped. He also has run many of his better races on the Monmouth oval, pushing his record to 3 wins and 4 seconds in 8 career starts on the dirt here. He sat in third behind a slow pace set by He’spuregold and his stablemate, Last Romance. The field bunched up down the backside, but when they got to the turn, he came with a bold three wide bid and drew off, winning by almost nine lengths on the wire.