The new week of racing kicks off with a six race, twilight Friday card at Monmouth Park. The feature race today is a full, 14 horse, field of optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance, New Jersey bred horses in Race 4. After a monster day on Saturday, Jose Ferrer extended his lead in the jockey standings to six wins over Nik Juarez. Jose Delgado had a strong weekend to move himself into second place in the trainer standings, one win behind Wayne Potts.
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|2||2,3,6||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
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Race 1: Top Pick: 5
I’m not getting very creative in the opener, as I think Todd Pletcher’s second time starter, Candy Lua (5) holds the key to this maiden special weight race for fillies at mares at 6 Furlongs. She debuted as the post time favorite last month at Gulfstream. She exerted a decent amount of energy before the race while being difficult to load. On the track, she didn’t run poorly, getting off the rail, and swinging four wide in the stretch before leveling off. She’s had three works over this course since that start and she faces three first time starters and two horses with racing experience, whose ceiling doesn’t appear as high as hers. One for the Gold (1) makes her third start off the layoff in what feels like a now or never race for her at the maiden allowance level. She’s beautifully bred, but she really hasn’t progressed much in her seven career starts. She has finished second four of those seven times though. She disappointed as the favorite in her turf debut two weeks ago (although she was way overbet in that spot) and gets back on the dirt today. Ms Penelopepitstop (2) ships down from Belmont for Rudy Rodriguez for her career debut this evening. She has shown improvement in the AM in her last two drills in New York. I like that her connections are shipping here, as the Belmont maiden special weight races are probably a little salty, yet her connections are interested in protecting her, as opposed to trying her at the maiden claiming level. She looks to be the best of the first timers. On deeper tickets, Asyena (4) is one to use defensively. She is probably going to be better to use next out, as is the case with most of the Patrick McBurney horses. She has had some gaps in her four race career, but her AM drills suggest that she is ready to return.
Race 2: Top Pick: 6
The first of two races carded for the turf is an open $12,500-$10,500 claiming contest, sprinting 5 Furlongs. Dugout (1), from the Kelly Breen barn, is the likely favorite here, as he is a hard trying gelding that has won half of his 16 career races, and has only finished off the board one time in five career turf sprints. However, this horse fits the profile of type of horse that Breen sends out that you want to play against. He has sent out several horses off shorter layoffs (2-6 months), and none of them have found the Winner’s Circle at this meet thus far. Since 2020, he has only won with 6% of these horses in a 67 race sample. In addition, this horse looks like he has been declining since winning the Steel Valley Sprint Stakes at Mahoning Valley in 2019. He has been claimed in his last two starts, and is likely being eyed by several other outfits today, as he’s entered for a tag that is $3,500 less than what he was claimed for in his last race in March. I also don’t love the rail draw for him here, as there’s some speedy horses directly outside of him. This is probably the softest field he’s ever faced, though, so I’ll cover with him on deeper tickets, but I think the value lies within trying to beat this one. I’ll use Mr. Edgar (6), who is already a winner on the turf here at this meet, on top. That was his first effort on the turf since being moved to Jose Delgado’s barn, which ended last week red hot. He’ll need to prove that he can put two decent races together, but I think he’ll get the best set up in here, sitting just off the early pace. He drops back to claiming company after clearing the N1X allowance condition here on 6/6. I don’t usually love this move, but he was running consistently against claiming foes prior to that race, and while he ran very well last out, that was not the strongest N1X allowance group he could have faced. Additionally, the N2X level is considerably tougher, so I think this spot makes sense. I also think there’s value with the two speed horses, slotted directly outside the favorite, as both are getting back on the turf for the first time in a while. Victory Chimes (2) may be the quickest of all in the early stages, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when only going 5 Furlongs. He’s never won when sprinting on the turf, however, he’s come very close, just missing in a photo at this level here last year. His current dirt form isn’t awful, and I think he can take a decent step forward getting back on the grass. Johnny Obvious (3) hasn’t seen the turf since 2019, but prior to a long layoff, he was going very well in his grass efforts in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Indiana. He hasn’t had the same form in his four starts since returning from a 19 month layoff. However, this will be the first time he gets back on the grass. He shortens up in distance and certainly could be live in this race.
Race 3: Top Pick: 2
Multi-conditioned filly and mare claimers going 1 Mile and 1/16, running with a $7,500-$6,500 tag. Again, Breen will send out the favorite, Misty Taste (1), who fits the same profile of the type of horse that isn’t winning for this barn. She’s been away for two months, shipping in from Aqueduct and dropping in class. While she’s been steadily improving, she’ll be going two turns for the first time today, which is a question that she’ll have to answer while going off at short odds. Like Dugout in the previous race, this is likely the softest group she’s ever faced, so again, it makes sense to use her on deeper tickets, but I’ll be trying to beat her. I’m hoping the lightbulb went off for Facts Only (2), who has looked considerably better in her last two starts at Gulfstream. She was second with $12,500 maiden claimers two back, and she handily beat that same level of competition last out, winning by 4 and ¼ lengths when running a one turn mile. Her pedigree definitely leans one turn (Bahamian Squall out of a Yes It’s True mare), however, I think she’ll offer value today while racing in good current form. Rack Daddy (5) moves to the Joe Orseno barn, which has sent out some live runners with a limited number of starters thus far at this meet. She was 2nd when going the two turn mile at Parx last out, when facing $12,500 N2L claimers. She makes her third start off the layoff today and is one of the few in here with a strong effort at two turns. On deeper tickets, perhaps give a look to Paddy’s Princess (3). She’s one that might have a brighter future in front of her on the grass, however, she currently has a win and a third in three career tries, all on the main track. She broke her maiden two back at Laurel while going 6 Furlongs with $10K maiden claimers. Her first try at Parx against winners was dull, however, I think she can move forward at two turns. I’m not sure she’s as talented as some of the others in here yet, but I think she’ll run a much better race today than she did last time out.
Race 4: Top Pick: 6
Fourteen horses have entered this New Jersey bred, optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance. Many who have cleared this condition in the past are entered for the $15K tag in this excellent betting race. I made Double Chubble (6) my top pick, while cutting back to a sprint today. He’s definitely better at one turn than he is at two turns, and he’s been competitive when facing some salty foes in optional claiming/starter allowance company at Parx. We have already seen multiple winners at this meet coming from that level of competition at Parx. He beat a field at this level in an off the turf 5 Furlong sprint here in August of 2020. He has been in better recent form than many of these, and I think he can spring the upset at 12-1 (ML). It’s a big ask to have a three year old beat a field of this size and ability, however, I like what I’ve seen thus far from Counterfeitcurrency (12). He returned off a six month layoff when facing older horses at the state bred N1X allowance level, when catching a sloppy course on 5/29. He was caught at the wire that day, taking the worst of a three horse photo. Paco Lopez gets the mount and I’m expecting a better effort in his second start off the layoff, as all three career dirt sprints have been solid. Both Smithwick’s Spice (10) and Chubilicious (9) are two accomplished NJ breds that have cleared this condition and are in for the tag today. Smithwick’s Spice has shown that he can run well off the layoff last year. He’s been on the shelf since September, when he ran a dull race with open company at this optional claiming/N1X level. He’s a two time winner on this track and has been very competitive when running with fellow Jersey breds. Ten year old gelding, Chubilicious may be nearing the end of the road as his last two in New Orleans against open company were not very good. However, his last race showed some improvement from a dismal effort in December. He’s a different horse when he’s on this track as his career record here (16 starts, 9 wins, 5 seconds, 1 third) is sparkling. While he’s not the same horse that beat open stakes company on this track in 2018, I’m not ready to write off this gritty veteran just yet. However, the 3-1 morning line odds are inviting to play against him in the vertical exotics. I will still use him on the horizontal tickets though.
Race 5: Top Pick: 1
The second and final turf race of the day is for three year olds and upward that have never won three races, running with a $20K-$18 tag. I made Ninja Dust (1) my top pick here, shipping in from Belmont and running for Greg Sacco for the first time. His last three have been a little dull, but those races were coming with better horses on the NYRA circuit. He was much more competitive with similar, when running two turns at Gulfstream over the winter. His lone start on this course was his maiden breaking win and his other win came at this condition, despite being eligible for N2L races at the time. Bee Major (2) is coming off a solid effort at Tampa with $16K N3L company. He’s been close in his last three and should be able to secure a good early position with his inward draw. Leading rider, Jose Ferrer has upgraded most of the horses that he’s been on over the last few weeks. Large (7) is an interesting runner for Jose Delgado here. He cleared the N2L condition on the main track two back at Tampa. He ran in an N1X allowance race here in the slop on 5/30 and was 4th, beaten 16 lengths, after a wide journey. His two turn form is definitely better than his sprint form, and his one turf race last year wasn’t awful, finishing 5th after running off in the early stages. There’s not much competition for the early lead, so stealing this race on the front is not out of the question, as long as Albin Jimenez is able to ration some of that speed. Croi Mor (6) is very consistent, winning two straight races at Golden Gate and Belmont, before struggling with better last out. The drop in class and ship here makes sense, and it certainly doesn’t hurt his chances to get Paco Lopez to ride. I don’t love the 5-2 (ML) odds on him though, as I think some of the others have a higher ceiling than he does at the moment.
Race 6: Top Pick: 3
This multi-conditioned $16K-$14K claimer feels like the logical place to single in this sequence. Roaring River (3) is going to be the one to beat here after running a dull effort at Charles Town when sprinting with N2X allowance company. His two turn routes at Tampa are good enough to be right there with this group. He was claimed three starts back for $8K after breaking his maiden in the start before that. He was second as a short priced favorite with $10K N2L claimers two back, running a solid second behind a loose leader who was able to set slow fractions. Isaac Castillo, who has been riding very well at the meet, winning 20% of his races here, picks up the mount. V.I.P. Who (7) is one of two three year olds that have more than one win on their career resumè. His lone two turn race was his best effort in his career, when he broke his maiden with $16K maiden claimers at Tampa. He was off for almost three months before returning here at this level with sprinters on May 30th. He was overmatched that day, but I think he’ll be more competitive getting back to two turns and racing second off the layoff. The morning line favorite is Hachacha (2) who is looking to rebound after a dull race in an off the turf spot at this level last month. Perhaps he didn’t appreciate the slop, but I’m not willing to take a short price on him, as his only good race on the main track came with off the turf maidens at Tampa.
Pick 5 Play: $48 Ticket
Race 2: 2, 3, 6
Race 3: 2, 5
Race 4: 6, 9, 10, 12
Race 5: 1, 2, 6, 7
Race 6: 3
Meet Stats: 27/94 (Top Pick Winners) – $194.80 / $2.07 ROI per $2 win bet