The last weekend in June starts off with a competitive eight race card at Monmouth Park. The featured race this afternoon is Race 7, where fillies and mares will go 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course in an optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance race. First post for the Friday afternoon card is 2:00 (ET).
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||3||3,5,7||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||6||6||3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|3||8||8||2,3||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|4||7||1,7||DBL, PK3, PK 5|
|5||2||2,4,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
We get our first look at New Jersey bred two year olds as eight fillies are set to dash five furlongs in the opener. There are three owners and trainers sending out multiple entrants in this race, which is a total head scratcher. Carats Forever (#3) is the only runner with race day experience, finishing 3rd in a five horse open maiden special weight race here three weeks ago. She flashed some early speed before fading late. I think that effort was a race that she certainly could build off of here. Midnight Heiress (#7) is one of two homebred runners that Jerry Hollendorfer is set to unveil for New Farm. Isaac Castillo has become the “go to” rider for this barn, so this runner feels more live than her stablemate, Rainbow Rhythm (#1). Her works are solid and Hollendorfer has done well with his debut runners on this circuit. I’ll still back up with Rainbow Rhythm, who gets the services of a very capable Albin Jimenez in her debut. Eddie Owens, who also sends out Carats Forever for Holly Crest Farm, trains Riding Pretty (#5) who makes her debut this afternoon. Paco Lopez takes the assignment aboard this Jack Milton filly. Her works are okay, and despite having most of his success on turf, Jack Milton’s runners can certainly hold their own on the main track.
Time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claimers go 1 mile and 70 yards in the back end of the Early Daily Double. I think Look Out Lambo (#6) has a big chance in this race. He was on a tear last year at Finger Lakes winning five of six races from August to November. He had a failed effort at Mahoning Valley in December in N1X allowance before Englehart gave him some time off. He returned with $8K time restricted claimers here two starts back and was claimed by Tony Wilson out of that race. He ran an improved race with $5K starter allowance foes on a sloppy course last out. He’s in his third start off the layoff and is progressing the way that you’d want to see from him. I think he can sit a good trip just outside of the early speed and be a tough force in the stretch here. Exchequer (#3) would be the one that I’ll choose as a saver on multi-race plays after a big effort last week. Patricia Farro lost him in a claim two starts back and took him right back last out in a race where he handily vanquished time restricted $8K-$7K claimers in gate to wire fashion. It’s a quick turnaround off of a big effort, but I respect the fact that they’re trying to strike while the iron is hot.
The first turf race of the afternoon is for $40K-$30K maiden claimers going 1 mile and 1/16. Paco Lopez is winning at a 26% clip at this current meet. As a perennial leading rider at this track, there’s no doubt that he consistently gets many of the top mounts here. However, if you want to get a snapshot of why he wins so many races, head over to YouTube and watch the ride that he gave Unleveraged in the 9th Race last Sunday (6/19). On paper, that horse was probably not the best horse in the race, and he had a difficult post position to boot. There was only one other speed threat in that race and Paco gambled that the horse would be ridden aggressively to the front end by a young rider. Paco aggressively rode his mount to go from post ten, all the way to the rail, sitting in a clear second position going into the first turn. He seized the opportunity to get off the rail and get first run on the pacesetter going into the final turn, where he outlasted the closers in the stretch battle. The top six finishers were within less than three lengths of each other, so that brilliant ride absolutely was the difference between winning and losing. All of that being said, Lopez winds up on Tap the Candy (#8) in this race, which, on paper, feels like it’s devoid of any real front end speed. I think other horses in this race might be better than him, but I think he has a tactical advantage as the lone speed horse in this race. If anyone will be able to exploit that advantage, it would be Lopez. I also think that other horses are going to take some money in this race, which could allow for fair value on this three year old son of Cupid. Both Rock the Stars (#2) and Raising Moon (#3) are likely going to need some kind of pace in front of them for them to produce their best efforts. Perhaps the first time starter, Chiefs Blanket (#7) or the stretch out sprinter, Victors Valiant (#9) can provide pressure to Tap the Candy early on. Rock the Stars definitely fits from a class perspective, running a pair of strong efforts in maiden special weight company in his last two tries. Raising Moon is also dropping back in for a tag for trainer Jorge Delgado. Delgado is 0-8 at this current meet, but he’s won at a 24% clip in 2022, and he has great numbers with off the layoff runners and new acquisitions. I’m not sold on the Chad Brown firster, Chiefs Blanket. He’s debuting for a $40K tag, which is nine times less than his connections paid for him. He was gelded, which certainly limits this value of a horse that was foaled by a full sister to American Pharoah. He’s facing a decent field for the condition, so I’ll be taking a solid stand against.
Conditioned $7,500-$6,500 filly and mare claimers go 1 mile and 70 yards in the race that will start the Late Pick-5. This is another tricky race, as there are a pair of class droppers that fit from a speed figure perspective, but they have never competed on a dirt course. I’m going to side with a pair of stretch out sprinters from high percentage barns in this spot. Siren’s Lucky Song (#7) reunites with Jose D’Angelo, who has hit the board with all five of his starters at this meet thus far, winning with two of them. She ended 2021 in fairly decent form, but has struggled to get back to running those solid Beyer figures that she was showing that year. She tried this distance three back for the first time while racing on synthetic. She ran a credible race, tiring in the later stages to finish 5th. She gets some class relief today while trying two turns on the dirt for the first time. Jamie Ness started his first runner of the meet here last weekend and left here a winner when Olympic Romp took care of business at short odds. He brings in She’s Got Game (#1) from Parx after a pair of solid efforts, including a win at seven furlongs at this level. Her one two turn start wasn’t particularly fast, but she did dominate a field of three year old fillies in a $10K maiden claiming race. She’s the only horse in the field with multiple wins, crossing the wire first twice and being put up via DQ a third time. I think these are the two principal players here.
We move back to the turf for the final leg of the Win-Early Pick-5 wager. $20K-$18K claimers that have never won three races will go 1 mile and 1/16 here. Spark (#2) was an unknown commodity that recently joined Michelle Hemingway’s barn. He ran last week in allowance company when he was defeated by Jaime Ness’ Olympic Romp. He certainly didn’t embarrass himself by finishing 6th, beaten less than four lengths that afternoon. He drops in class and wheels back quickly. For some horses this might be a concern, but he did run four times in 49 days to start his career in Peru. If he can duplicate or build off that last effort, he’ll be very tough to beat at this level today. Jo Jo Katz (#4) has improved dramatically since racing here last season. While he has remained winless in his first seven tries in 2022, he continues to finish with interest, not too far back from the winners. Gerald Bennett and Samy Camacho are both off to decent starts together at this meet, winning 21% of the time that they team up. Double David (#6) was a longshot winner for me earlier in the meet when he got back on the turf course for the first time in a while, and was able to take a lesser field from gate to wire. He’s in his second race off the layoff, and trainer Rafael Schistl has solid numbers with previous race winners in their next start. The water gets a little deeper and the pace scenario isn’t quite as favorable. He still merits a long look in this spot though.
WIN-EARLY Pick-5: $36 Ticket:
I think that Look Out Lambo (#6, R2) is the kind of horse that we can build a ticket around. I think we’ll be able to get solid odds on him (7-2 ML), thus allowing us to go a little deeper in the other legs of this wager. The first race for two year old New Jersey breds is a total spread race for me, so I’m hoping to get one of the four of them home. The other three races are evenly matched, so barring any scratches, there shouldn’t be many huge favorites in this sequence.
This maiden special weight race for three year olds and upward starts a nice three race Pick-3 sequence to wrap up the Friday program. Despite Paco Lopez and Todd Pletcher coming into the week red hot, I think this a race where we can try to beat their runner. Impenetrable (#7) was a $240K purchase by Liam’s Map out of a Bodemeister mare. I don’t like that Pletcher ran him on the synthetic in his debut at Gulfstream. He ran okay that afternoon, setting the pace, before fading to 6th. He tried the main track in his next start, where he faded badly. Obviously, something went amiss there, as he hasn’t been seen since November. His works are average at best, so I’m thinking he’s vulnerable in this spot. John Terranova hasn’t had much of a presence here over the last several years, however, he’s done well with his three starters at this meet thus far, winning with two and having the other finish second. He sends out Flash Kiss (#6) to make his second career start after a respectable debut in the mud at Belmont at the beginning of the month. He was away a bit slow, and then was wide going into the turn. He was never really a factor in the race, but the speed figure stacks up for this level. He’s probably not quite good enough to win at this level on the NYRA circuit this time of year, so shipping here feels like a logical move, especially with his recent success here. John Jay (#3) debuted in a tough maiden special weight race here at the beginning of the month. The winner of that race, Pass and Stow, ran a big race at first asking against some well-meant runners from high profile barns. John Jay finished third beaten seven that day, going off at long odds. Isaac Castillo, who remains in second place in the jockey standings, takes over for a barn that has had some success with second time starters over the past year. On deeper tickets, I’ll consider Cantankerous Cat (#1) moving up in class from the $40K maiden claiming level. He ran a huge race to be second last out at long odds. Moving to a protected race makes sense off that effort, but I’m worried that he’ll be dueled into submission with Impenetrable in here. I do think that he could win that pace battle though, which is enough for me to use him as a saver.
The featured race this afternoon is an optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance race for fillies and mares, three year olds and up, traveling 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course. Pugilist (#6) has a decent chance in this race, getting back to two turns on the turf after a dull effort in the off the turf Politely Stakes last month. That seemed to be a race designed to start her local season, so I think that Delgado opted to run her there, even though she’s shown little ability on the main track, instead of scratching out of that one. She was in good form in a variety of races over the winter at Tampa, including a win at this level when she was entered for a tag. She remains eligible to be protected at this level today as a result. She just missed last year under the same conditions on this course, and I think she has a good shot to get the job done here, where she has a pace advantage over many of the main players here. The same could be said for Tass (#2) who is stretching out from sprints on the NYRA circuit. Carlos Martin brings her here for the first time in her career to go two turns. She’s getting class relief, despite staying at the same level, and she has run well in longer races in the past. She’s in her third start off the layoff and could wind trying to take this group all the way on the front end. Belle Belisa (#8) is likely to attract a lot of wagering attention at the windows after an absolutely dominating victory with N1X foes on the grass at Laurel three weeks ago. Daniel Centeno, who is an excellent turf rider, comes in to ride for Michael Dickinson today. She is a definite player, but she might need to have a decent pace in front of her to set up her strong late kick. There’s not a ton of early speed signed on, at least on paper, so I feel that others that will be more forward may have a pace advantage today.
The nightcap today is an optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race at 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. This is a fairly evenly matched field, so for me, it’s all about the upside here. I liked Benevengo (#1) in the Long Branch Stakes last month when this three year old was making his stakes and two turn debut. He had a little traffic trouble going into the first turn, which, especially for a young horse, was unfortunate, as he ended up taking a lot of mud in the face when getting shuffled back to 4th. He still ran on well enough to be 4th behind a prior stakes winner, Dash Attack, and the graded stakes placed Dean’s List. He should be running on a fast track today, and his rail post should allow him to be forwardly placed here. He’s had a few nice works in the interim, and should be tough in this race today. Styner (#3) comes here in top form, clearing this condition three back. He was a winner at this level two starts ago, while entered for a tag. Delgado took him that day and bumped him up in class to face optional $30K/N2X foes here in a relatively quick turnaround. Delgado drops him back and gave him a month in between races today. He certainly is live, but I do think the top choice has a higher ceiling. There’s a degree of risk in using Our Lucky Man (#7). When he’s well behaved, he’s been right there at this level at Laurel and Penn National. However, there’s been two times in his last five starts where he ducked out early and was taken out of the race in the first few strides. He’s definitely improved since Gonzalez claimed him for $10K in a maiden claiming race on this oval back in September. He has a shot, but I’ll need decent value to make the investment in him, especially with his recent antics.
Top Pick Winners: 43/157 (27.4%) – $380.90/ $2.43 ROI