After an unexpectedly rough weather weekend at the Jersey Shore, racing resumes today with an eight race Friday afternoon card. With a little more than a month of racing in the books, it’s no surprise to see Paco Lopez, the perennial leading rider at Monmouth Park, atop the jockey standings with 22 wins. Isaac Castillo, remains in the hunt with 15 wins, and Samy Camacho, riding here regularly for the first time, is in third with 13 wins. On the trainer side, the board is wide open right now. Kelly Breen has 9 wins, one win in front of Gerald Bennett, another new face to New Jersey this season. Claudio Gonzalez is in third with 7 wins and Jerry Hollendorfer is sitting in fourth with 6 wins. The co-featured races are the 6th and 8th this afternoon. The 6th race is a N1X allowance sprinting five furlongs on the turf and the 8th is a money allowance for three year olds and up going 1 mile and 1/16, also on the turf. First post today is 2:00 ET and don’t forget to check out the PP’s for a big day of racing tomorrow for the first annual Haskell Preview Day. Three graded stakes, plus the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes headline the first major day of racing at Monmouth this season.
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|
|1||8||4,7,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||3||3||2,5||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|3||6||3,4,6||2||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|4||6||3,6||4||DBL, PK3, PK 5|
|5||4||4,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Up first this afternoon is a $10K maiden claiming contest at six furlongs. This feels like the right spot for Not a Postino (#8) to break through and finally graduate from the maiden ranks in his 9th career attempt. He has finished second in four of those starts, and in three of those races, he was beaten less than a length. He’s making his third start off the layoff after showing improvement last out. Hey Hey Haley (#4) will make it tough on him though, as they both want to be setting the fractions on the front end. He’s making his second start off the layoff after tiring late when going five furlongs in his first start of the year. He ran his best race in the mud three starts ago, and while he would be one I’d think to upgrade over a wet track, it doesn’t appear likely he’ll get that today. Both of these runners want to be on the end, and closers did well at the start of the day last Friday when the track was slow and tiring. I Make the Rules (#7) appears to be the most likely back marker that could impact this race. He debuted last out with $30K maiden claimers for Greg Sacco in a turf race where he finished a decent 5th. I don’t love the steep drop off that race, especially from a horse that cost $130K in April of last year. However, his pedigree suggests dirt will be his preferred surface and he worked well enough on the main track leading up to his first start. I definitely have mixed feelings about him, but there’s enough there to make sure he’s on your multi-race tickets.
Four of the six runners in this conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for fillies and mares going one mile and 70 yards faced off on 5/28 under identical conditions. Valuable Breigh (#5) did all of the heavy lifting on the front end in that race, but as long as Still Doing Time (#4) is entered, starting directly inside of her, she’s unlikely to get the same front end trip. I’d upgrade her if the filly next door scratches, but as long as they’re both running, I’m going to need to see her run another big race when she doesn’t get the ideal trip. Maarty’s Dilemma (#3) was 5th that day, but she has a lot of things going for her this afternoon. She broke well, and appeared to be posed to be a little more forwardly placed than her last few starts, however, she was bumped slightly going into the first turn, and was shuffled back to her normal spot at the back of the field. She made an eye-catching move going into the final turn, but perhaps Angel Rodriguez moved a bit too soon as she leveled off in the stretch. Paco Lopez gets the mount for her new trainer, Howard Brown, who has very good numbers first off the claim. Along the Way (#2) ran on late to get third that day, but she feels more like a horse to use underneath, as opposed to on top. Her only win in 20 career tries came on the grass. Imagine the Mojo (#6) finished behind Maarty’s Dilemma while appearing to struggle to keep up at this level. She does have two wins where everyone else only has one, but right now, I think there are other runners that are better. As a result, I’m going to use Maarty’s Dilemma as a single here on my primary ticket. I’ll put both Along the Way and Valuable Breigh on the C line as backups.
Two year old fillies dash five furlongs in this maiden special weight contest, which unfortunately splits the Win-Early Pick-5. It does, however, kickoff the Jersey Shore 6, so if there are any clues in the wagering, you’ll be able to apply them accordingly in that wager. Paco Lopez opted to ride Spouty’s Girl (#6) for Kelly Breen over Munnys Gold (#3) for Todd Pletcher. I can’t say for sure that means something, but when you look at the horses that Paco rides at Monmouth, it sure seems like he has the pick of who he wants to hop aboard. He’s ridden for both Pletcher and Breen several times at this meet. Spouty’s Girl has some decent works, including a 47:4 drill on 6/4. She’s sired by Practical Joke, who was a two time Grade 1 winner as a two year old and a debut winner. Perhaps Jairo Rendon earned the mount on Munnys Gold on 6/4 when he rode Great Navigator confidently to win his debut in one of the first two year old races of the season, defeating a well-meant Todd Pletcher colt, who was a little flat-footed from the gate. As far as I can tell, this will be the first opportunity this young rider has had to ride for Pletcher, so you know you’re going to get his absolute best. She has been working steadily in the mornings over the local oval. She’s sired by Munnings so there is some speed and precocity there, paired with the stamina influence from Medaglia d’Oro on the dam side. The 47:3 bullet work, the fastest of 129 workers on 6/11, is enough for me to include Comoda (#4) and Isaac Castillo on the A line in this race. Her sire, Prospective, whose biggest wins came in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Ohio Derby in 2012, was a stakes winner at two, He’s had limited success as a stallion, siring four stakes winners, and was sold to stand in Korea back in 2020. On deeper tickets, I will cover with one of two runners with raceday experience, giving preference to Madeline’s Grogu (#2). She ran an even 4th place when making her debut on 6/4, facing four other rivals. She should benefit from that race, while also getting blinkers for the first time today.
The first turf race of the day is a $30K starter allowance for three year olds and upward dashing five furlongs. Nothing Better (#6) loves racing here, winning his last three starts on this turf course. His only off the board finish in five starts on the local lawn was in a race where the rider lost his irons at the break. Jairo Rendon rode him to victory last out, beating a solid group in optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance company. He’s eligible for the condition after beating conditioned $30K claimers last summer on this course, which was the first and only time he’s run with a tag in his career. Discreet Tune (#3) is the main danger in this race, and he’ll likely be finishing fast here with Nik Juarez aboard. He was third in the Get Serious Stakes here last month, when sent to post at 22-1. He cleared the open N1X allowance condition two starts back in style, pulling away to win by 2+ lengths at Gulfstream. On deeper tickets, and underneath, don’t sleep on the recent maiden breaker, Immortalization (#4). He beat $40K maiden claimers at Aqueduct in his last start, which was his first since joining Michelle Hemingway’s barn. That effort was a big step forward in his turf debut. Hemingway has brought live runners to this meet so far, winning with three of six races. This is a big step up in class, but seeing this horse draw off the way he did tells me there’s more in the tank for this son of Honor Code.
The Win-Early Pick-5 sequence wraps up with another conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claiming race, this one for three year olds and up going six furlongs. I made a note last week about wanting to see the horses from last Friday, and how they come back after racing over a very slow and heavy course. Tempestuous (#2) was one that I was interested in betting back. He did all of the heavy lifting on a day where front end speed was struggling. He looked to have Bellamy Dolce beaten, but that one re-broke on the outside, on a course where I think the outside lanes were where you typically wanted to be. However, both the quick turnaround off that possibly demanding effort, along with the cutback to a six furlong race don’t sit well with me. I’ll wait and maybe use him next time at two turns, Meanwhile, it seems that Bonnie Lucas is holding a pair of aces in this race. Appraisal (#4) looks to be at the right level of competition, while making his first start of the meet. Lucas claimed him at the end of the Oaklawn meet. While he has come up short over the last several races, he hasn’t faced a field this soft ever. Paco Lopez looks to be on another very live mount. The biggest threat figures to come from his stablemate, We Ready (#7). Luis Cardenas comes in from New York to ride this four year old Not This Time gelding who finally broke through, breaking his maiden with $20K maiden claimers at Belmont last month. This seems like a logical next start for him. He ran a sharp race here with maiden special weight company on Haskell Day last year, following a strong effort at Belmont.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5: $36 Ticket
I’m going to build this ticket around Maarty’s Dilemma (#3, R2). I see that race as a race where four horses are going to take money, and the wagering should be spread around enough to ensure some value. I’ll hope that we have the right two year olds covered on the ticket, going four deep in the third, and I’ll throw in Immortalization (#4, R4), who is taking a big jump up in class, but is one of the more intriguing longer priced horses in this sequence.
We have a N1X allowance race going five furlongs on the turf as one of the co-featured races today. That’s Right (#5) tried the turf for the first time in a maiden special weight on the Black-Eyed Susan Day undercard, and he absolutely dominated that field, beating a nice group by five lengths at long odds. Andy Hernandez, who has ridden here with a limited number of rides, gets the return call for Michael Moore. I love betting back horses that drastically improve in their first start on grass. This race feels like a plan B for Lost My Sock (#9), and she might need a plan C, as she’s stuck on the AE list today. She was scheduled to run in an N1X allowance race for fillies and mares going 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf on Sunday, but that race was rained off the turf. I really liked her chances that day, and if this race were at 5 and ½ furlongs, she’d be my top pick, despite facing the boys here. She’s a closing sprinter, who was a very good 4th behind three stakes quality fillies in the Limestone Turf Sprint at Keeneland. I’m more concerned about five furlongs being too short, than her facing the boys. If she does get to run, she should get a decent pace in front of her though. Loved Again (#2) is another live runner that Michelle Hemingway is sending out on this program. This Animal Kingdom gedling sat just off the pace before driving past his rivals to break his maiden last out. He;s another one that might be more effective and 5 and ½ furlongs, but there’s enough tactical speed there for Paco Lopez to keep him involved. On deeper tickets, J P Hellish (#8) is worth using as a saver if the top two were to falter. He tired late in his last two at five furlongs. He was ridden pretty aggressively in those races, as he seems like a horse that needs to be involved early. However, I think if Angel Rodriguez can get him to rate kindly, he’d be more of a threat to finish well late.
The late double starts off with a time restricted $8K-$7K claiming race going 1 mile and 1/16. There are seven horses entered by seven different trainers. Five of the seven trainers trained a different horse from this race in one of their last two starts. Candy Cane Lane (#5) arrived on the scene late to complete the trifecta at 11-1 in a race at this same condition last month. Exchequer (#4) breaking slow changed the pace complexion up front, allowing Internet of Things (#3) to get away with a leisurely tempo up front. Candy Cane Lane was steady at Turfway on the synthetic course, but Monmouth is where he does his best work. In fact, his record at Monmouth on dirt is three wins, one second, and two thirds in eight career starts. His record everywhere else is 15 starts, no wins, no seconds, and one third place finish. I expect Exchequer to be more involved early, and if closers have a chance today, I think he’ll run by them all late. I was surprised when the public made the favorite in that same race last month. He blew the break that day and was never involved. Jose Delgado claimed him from that race and brings him back at the same level after a decent work on June 4th. He is better than his last race and he has shown the ability to recover from a bad start. I’m looking for him to regain his better form for his new connections, however, I’d like to hopefully get better odds than his 3-1 morning line figure. Internet of Things (#3) did the heavy lifting on the front end last out, but couldn’t hold off Hot and Heavy who passed him late. He has inside position on Exchequer, so the lead should be his if Camacho wants it again. He has been up and down this year, so I want to see him get back to his Finger Lakes form before I fully commit to him at a short price.
One of the reasons that Jamie Ness has been able to win 28% of his races in 2022 is his ability to get the most out of the condition books at the tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region. This race is essentially a N1X allowance race, but it’s written in a way that horses that may have cleared the N1X level at lower level tracks would be eligible to run (earning less than $17K for their victory). Four of the seven entered for turf, would qualify under the N1X condition. Exuma (#2), who did most of his running in Ireland, and Spark (#6) who makes his first start in over a year, while shipping in from Peru, are both ineligible for N1X allowance races and starter allowance. The N2X allowance conditions can be very salty there, so a race like this gives their trainers an option to run them in a race where they could be competitive, without having to put them in for a tag. However, Ness, trains Olympic Romp (#4), who makes his fourth consecutive start at a different track, and he seems like the perfect fit for this condition. He’s a five year old Carpe Diem gelding that is in excellent form right now. He cleared the N1X condition at Tampa last year, however, because of their lower purse structure, he earned less than $17K for his win and thus he is able to run in this race. He entered a race that was labeled as a N1X allowance at Aqueduct two back (However it was written under a similar condition as this), and was last at 43-1, but finished only 3 and ½ lengths behind the winner. He was much better when facing a solid group of N2X runners at Delaware last out. He gets class relief today, while racing for a larger purse than his last race, all of which equates to a very logical business trip for Ness and jockey Ruben Silvera. I’m hoping Silvera will be able to make the trip, as he went down hard in a nasty spill on Tuesday. Initial reports are that he’s okay, but he was off his mounts at Parx Wednesday. He’ll likely be a short price, but he just feels better than these. Road to Meath (#1) would be my backup in this spot. He had a nice little run on the grass this fall and winter. He ran two big races at the Meadowlands and then won with $16K claimers at Tampa. He blew up the toteboard at Gulfstream, winning a $16K starter allowance race there at 12 furlongs on the grass. He came up empty at 11 furlongs in a starter handicap at Tampa in his last start though. Abrams gave him a little bit of time, which certainly served him well going into the Gulfstream race back in February. I can see him getting a good trip from his rail post, and possibly getting first run on Olympic Romp. However, he’ll likely need a bigger effort or a bad trip from the favorite to get the job done.
Top Pick Winners: 34/127 (26.8%) – $320.10 $2.52 ROI