Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 6/18/23 – By Eric Solomon

After a great Saturday of racing at Monmouth, handicappers are rewarded with nearly a $75K carryover for the Win-Early Pick-5 today. With the super-sized card yesterday, there was an additional Pick-5 wager in the middle of the program that went unhit. The weather woes for the week appear to be in the rear view mirror as the courses were fast and firm yesterday. The feature race today is the $100K Get Serious Stakes for turf sprinters, going as the 10th race of the afternoon. First post for the Sunday program is 12:40 (ET).


I’ll be covering the Monmouth Park meet for the third consecutive 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 4 4,8,10 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 1 1 5 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 1 1,5 4 DBL, PK3
4 8 7,8 1,3 DBL, PK3
5 5 5,6 4 DBL, PK3
6 8 8 6,7 DBL, PK3, PK6
7 5 5,6,7 DBL, PK3, PK5
8 2 2,6,7 10 DBL, PK3, PK4
9 8 2,8 5 4,6 DBL, PK3
10 8 8 3 6 DBL


Race 1:

New Jersey breds start the afternoon, going one mile on the grass in an optional $15K/N1X allowance race. This is a tough race because only one of the ten runners entered in the body of the field has more than one career win, and six of those nine runners have started more than ten times. Only three runners in this race have ever won a race on the grass, one of them being Kratos (#4) who is my top pick. When you look at his turf races in a vacuum, they fit very well with this field. He closed well to be second when facing a more accomplished field of state bred runners last fall at the Meadowlands. His last win was almost two years ago, which is something that I don’t love. However, in those ten starts since his maiden win, only four of them came in two turn turf races. His most recent turf start was two back where he finished last, beaten less than 5 lengths, against a stronger field of N1X allowance horses. He was wide all the wide around the track in a dull effort on the dirt last out. Sweezy gets him back on his preferred surface and I think will respond. Irish Rill (#10) broke from this same gate two weeks ago when breaking his maiden here. Cathal Lynch brings him back quickly to face winners for the first time. I don’t love the outside draw, however, he was able to make it work last time. He’s one of two runners in this race with a true turf pedigree, so I do believe he will be able to improve off his last race. One Time Willard (#8) is coming off a miserable race where some fast horses outran him in the early stages. His two races on the turf are solid, including a near miss at this level two back. His last race worries me a bit, but I do think that he needed that race. 7-2 feels a little lighter than I’d prefer to take on him, however, I think some of the bigger threats are going to need this race more than he will. 


Race 2:

A half dozen $40K-$30K maiden claimers are going a quick 5 and ½ furlongs in this race. I think the distance and the early speed from Kasimba (#1) is going to make him very tough to beat in this race. He was chasing a runaway winner at this level last out, on a day where early speed was a major asset. He couldn’t quite keep pace with Road to Stardom that day, but he was clearly second best. Blinkers go on, which has been a strong angle for this barn. Based on the Timeform numbers, he should be able to make the front end easily, and I think he’s going to be hard to catch in this spot. Crack the Code (#5) will be my backup plan here, dropping back in for a tag. He’s been a bit of a money burner, going 0-8 for six in the money finishes. He was a little flat in his return, but that was another day where being forwardly placed was important. The course has been playing more to his liking over the past few weeks and he should be more fit in his second start off the layoff. 


Race 3:

Both Salto de Tigre (#4) and Coach Adams (#5) figure to take the bulk of the public money at the windows. However, while both are clear choices based on figures, neither horses seem to be at their very best right now, suggesting they could be a bit vulnerable. I’m going to try Doin’ittherightway (#1) as the top pick, looking for his second straight win. He was a winner against time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claimers here last month, while setting a dawdling pace on the front end. Most of his work has been in one turn races, but it is worth mentioning that he’s never lost when going two turns (two wins in two tries). I think he can handle the rise in class and offer some value in this race. Coach Adams is my preference over Salto De Tigre, even though he was defeated by that one last out, I don’t think he wants to set the pace, which is what he ended up doing in that four horse race last time out.  He’s better when tracking and pouncing. We’ll see how Juarez opts to ride him here, but I do think he’s better than his last race. Salto de Tigre is making his 8th start since March 25th, and while he’s put up competitive speed figures, his only win in that time frame came at Penn National. He feels like a runner that will be close, but he hasn’t offered much fight in the stretch. He’ll be a saver for me on deeper plays. 


Race 4:

Half the field in this $16K-$14K conditioned claiming race will be trying the turf for the first time. On Our Way Boyz (#8) ships into town for the first time this year and takes a significant drop in class. He makes his second start off a layoff this afternoon and feels like he’s running at the right level. His lone start on this course came last year when running in a $50K starter allowance race, where he finished 4th at 33-1. His effort to end his season last year was solid at the Belmont at the Big A meet, finishing third with $30K N2L claimers there when going six furlongs on the grass. From a pedigree standpoint, Drama’s Prayer (#7) feels most likely to have success when sprinting on the turf. He’s sired by Big Drama, who was so good sprinting on dirt, he never tried the turf. His runners have won 13% of their turf sprints in the last five years though. His full sister was a winner in her one turf sprint race, coming in a maiden special weight race at Delaware. She never started after that race, but her speed figure improved when getting on the grass after making her first two starts on the dirt. He has another full sister that was competitive in races like on grass, despite going 0-7 on turf. His dam was a stakes winning sprinter on dirt, turf, and synthetic, so there’s reason to believe that he can handle the surface switch. This is also a decent drop in class for this four year old gelding. I don’t love the 3-1 price, and he’s got a decent amount of early speed to contend with in this spot, however, he definitely makes sense here. Reckless Place (#3) is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He’s one that could benefit from a hot early pace. He sat off the pace at this level last out, finishing second beaten two lengths. Despite being winless on the turf, he’s been competitive in all three career turf sprints. I don’t like him as the favorite, but he’s more proven than most. Holy City (#1) might be a solid backup plan if there is a total pace meltdown. All four runners that are trying the turf for the first time are horse that have shown a lot of speed in dirt sprint races. There’s no guarantee that speed will translate to the turf, however, they seem to be “one way” kinds of horses. His lone win came ont he turf at this distance at the Fair Grounds in 2022. He hasn’t really developed much since that race though. He was a wide 7th in his first start back on turf two starts back at this level. He did improve when dropping in class on the dirt for his next start. He figures to be at the back of pack early here, and he ran well three starts back on the dirt when getting that kind of trip. 


Race 5:

I’m not sure if DRF is going to change the condition line for this race, but this is the conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claiming race, instead of the true N2L claiming race listed at the top. I feel this is worth noting because you have  Wheelingndealing (#4) with three career wins and Belmar Summer (#6) with four career wins entered in this race. Those fillies figure to be tough to beat in this race, and I’ll be using both. However, I’m going to make Fast Mule (#5) my top pick, shipping in from Charles Town for Anthony Farrior. Farrior wins a ton of races year in and year out in West Virginia and Maryland. This filly broke her maiden at Mountaineer last November. She returned to the races last month, going 4 and ½ furlongs at Charles Town, finishing 4th in N2X allowance company, despite being eligible for the N1X condition. She likely needed that race and feels like a horse that wants to go a little further than that race. While she’s moving to a tougher circuit, I think this level feels right for her. Belmar Summer was based at Tampa over the winter, visiting the Winner’s Circle three times at their recently concluded meet, She tried $40K claimers at Belmont where she was in over her head. She comes back to a more reasonable level of competition and returns to the site and distance of her maiden breaking win last fall. I’m expecting a much sharper effort from her. Wheelingndealing won two times in a row at six furlongs on the dirt at Gulfstream over the winter. She was off the board at seven furlongs when Kelly Breen claimed her for $25K. The drop in class off the layoff concerns me in this race, however her competition is not that stiff. I’ll backup with her, despite having some concerns. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 Ticket:

With the hefty carryover, this is a sequence worth sinking your teeth into. It;s hard to look past Kasimba (#1, R2) in that race. She feels like the best runner there, and while she’ll be a short number, I can easily build a ticket around her. There were some inexplicable results in some of the turf races yesterday, so I’ll be looking to spread out in those two races. 


Race 6:

The two favorites, Captain Quick (#2) and Empire Sky (#5)  in this maiden special weight turf sprint have had several chances to break their maidens, but have been unable to do so. Either could easily win this race, but I think there’s value in trying to beat them. Paul P (#8) is a half to the multiple Grade 1 winning turf mare, Regal Glory. He’s also a half to Night Prowler, who was stakes placed on turf. While both horses were better at two turns, Regal Glory broke her maiden at six furlongs and was a stakes winner at six furlongs on grass. He’s sire by Candy Ride, so I think a stretch out is in his future. However, there’s enough in his pedigree to tell me that can handle this trip. His lone start came at Laurel on the dirt when he had a decent amount of trouble. Kimberly Graci, who wins a lot of races at Penn National (20% in 2023), trains him and brings him here where I think he’s flying under the radar. Pure Mayhem (#6) is the lone first time starter in this race. His dam, Thank You Note was off the board in her only career race, which was on dirt. She’s sired by Uncle Mo out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, so there’s reason to believe that this gelding will take to the turf, He’s sired by Liam’s Map, who gets 14% winners with his turf sprinters. The works are decent enough to think that he could contend at this level. The Compas Man (#7) makes his third start stateside and his first over this oval. He was overmatched in his first North American Start at Gulfstream at this level. He shipped to Belmont and was more competitive with $40K maiden claimers when going six furlongs. Robert Falcone brings him here for the first time and his runners continue to fire at this meet. He has 7 winners from 16 starters and another 5 that have finished in the money. 


Race 7:

The Late Pick-5 gets under way with an optional $12,500 claiming/$6,250 starter allowance sprint at six furlongs. There’s some horses that are coming off some less than stellar efforts. I’m going to try Marvin (#5) on top in this race, coming off a win two weeks ago against $8K-$7K N4L claimers. This is a solid step up in class, but he was claimed by Jerry Hollendorfer, who has very good numbers first off the claim. I like that he moves him to a protected spot, while staying on a course where he had the most success. He’s moving from a trainer that has a 4% win percentage on the year to a trainer that has a 15% win percentage this year, which is an angle that I like to play. Ladneedsahandler (#6) ships in from Maryland for John Salzman after a failed attempt in allowance company at Pimlico. His last three dirt starts were strong at Laurel with a win and two close second place finishes. If he’s able to duplicate those efforts on this course, he’s going to be very tough to beat in this race. News Box (#7) was my top pick at this level on Opening Day, and while I was disappointed when he finished 4th, he definitely ran his race. He was stuck on the inside behind horses on a day where you wanted to be out front. Paco Lopez keeps the mount here, which I see as a positive sign. 


Race 8: 

I’m going to try to beat the 2-1 morning line favorite, Spoils of War (#11) in this $16K-$14K maiden claiming race for fillies and mares. Post 11 is no picnic in these 5 and ½ furlong races out of the chute, and I don’t think she’s that much better than these runners to overcome that ground loss. Fair and True (#2) ran well as a two year old in two turf sprints at the Meadowlands last fall. She came back in a two turn race with state bred maiden special weight types at two turns and was well beaten. This is a decent drop in class and the return to a sprint should be beneficial for her. Delightful Ava (#7) was also competitive last year at the Meadowlands, running behind some better horses. She was four lengths behind Spoils of War when she debuted that day. She had the outside post in that race and Spoils of War was drawn inside. She has some early speed and she’s sired by a very good turf sprinter, Bucchero. I can ignore her two poor starts on dirt with getting back on the grass today. Secret Temptation (#6) ran well at this level ,finishing 6th, beaten only two lengths, when making her first start on the grass and her first start since October. She improved from start one to start two last year on synthetic at Gulfstream, so she feels like a candidate that could improve in this spot. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with the professional maide. ,London Lady (#10), who will be trying the turf for the first time. She ran well in her two synthetic tries and she’s finished in the money on 10 of 12 career times on the dirt. She’s sired by Hard Spun, whose runner seem to be able to compete on any surface. 


Race 9:

The last Pick-3 of the week starts with an optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on the main track. This field of nine feels evenly matched. On paper, there are only two speed horses in this race, Li’l Miss Camille (#4) and Shesasuperfreak (#6), the morning line favorite. Should one of these runners scratch, it drastically changes the nature of this race, and the remaining runner would be a must use. With Samy Camacho riding Li’l Miss Camille and Paco riding Shesasuperfreak, I don’t think either rider is going to give an inch in the early stages.I’ll slot both on the C line, but I’d move either up to the A line if one defects. This has me looking for the horse that can stalk the pacesetters and try to pounce on the turn. I watched Bowl of Cherries (#8) work out that kind of trip at Penn National two weeks ago on Penn Mile night, and I think she can do it again. She’s eligible to run in this race without the tag since she won less than $23K for her N1X allowance score in that race. This is a savvy move by Jacobsen to bring her here where they write those conditions. She looks like she’s rounding into better form since joining this barn three starts ago. When she was good in Southern California over the fall and winter, she stayed good. Practicality (#2) ran well in a race at this condition last month .She was clearly second behind a runaway winner that afternoon, where she was making her first start since December. That was an encouraging effort to those that feel she can at least duplicate that effort in her second start off the break. Both Your Inheritance  (#5) and Hazardous Humor (#9) feel like runners that are better suited to longer one turn races. Of this duo, I do think Your Inheritance is more dangerous. She was closing well to be 3rd when going 5 and ½ furlongs last out when facing $20K starter allowance foes. She was well-backed at the windows that day, but found herself just a bit short. She has a enough tactical speed to contend early, so if she gets a better trip that Bowl of Cherries she might be able to take advantage.


Race 10, The $100K Get Serious Stakes:

The feature is a five furlong sprint and when it comes to these race, I’m often looking for who is better at five furlongs, as opposed to 5 and ½. I think the outside post suits That’s Right (#8) perfectly in this race, because the goal for Andy Hernandez is going to be to get him to the front before they bend into the turn. He is speed of the speed in this race, going a perfect 3-3 at this distance on grass in his career. He was a Grade 3 winner last year, taking home top honors in the Grade 3 Turf Monster Stakes on the PA Derby undercard. I think he’s faster than these and has a good chance to take them all the way. Our Shot (#6) is going to take the bulk of the wagering dollars, but his backers will be holding their collective breaths when they turn for him. He likes to come from off the pace, that’s going to be a tough assignment in his first try in stakes company. His effort was huge at Keeneland in his last start, and I believe that will draw the bulk of the attention. I’ll cover with home on deeper tickets, but I think at 8-1 on the morning line, Alogon (#3) is a more palatable backup choice in this spot. He’s undefeated in three turf sprints, finishing up the track in all three dirt races. He worked hard to wi that last race, and he has the look of a runner that could have a decent future.


Race 11:

The week ends with time $30K-$25K N2L filly and mare claimers going 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. I don’t trust the favorite, Cupid’s Playboy (#6) at this distance, so I’ll be looking elsewhere. Social Lady (#1) ran very well at two turns to break her maiden in her most recent start at Parx. She dropped in for a tag for the first time in her career and handily won with $40K maiden claimers back in April. Avila gave her a little time off and got back to work with works over this course. I think she’s fit and ready to fire here. Miranda’s Rocky (#2) is also coming off a maiden breaking effort, hers coming at Tampa. She got up in time to beat a field with five other runners in a race originally carded for the turf. She improved from start one to start two earlier in the year, so I could see her moving forward again in her second dirt try. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 33/145 (23.7%) – $195.00/ $1.34 ROI


Six horses earned free entry into some of the biggest races at the summer meet at Monmouth Park next month. Salute the Stars was more game than heavy favorite Kingsbarns in the Pegasus. Consumer Spending somehow was dismissed at 9-2, and she made her doubters pay in the Grade 3 Eatontown. Petulante snapped the six race win streak of Nimitz Class in the Salvator Mile. Finally, in the Monmouth Stakes, Tribuhvan was not good as the favorite in his return, setting the table for the up and comer, Catnip to mow them down at the wire. Kingsbarns earned free entry into the Haskell with his second place finish, and Never Explain was able to do the same for the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes.


One interesting horse that stood out to me day was the debut winner from the Todd Pletcher debut winner, Askari in the 7th race, which was a maiden special weight race on the grass. He finished with a ton of interest and stopped the clock only three tenths of a second slower than stakes quality fillies and mares did in the Grade 3 Eatontown a few races later in the day. He could be yet another strong runner for this barn. 


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