Ten races are scheduled for the Saturday afternoon card at Monmouth, highlighted by the Goldwood Stakes for fillies and mares sprinting on the turf. The races were taken off the turf yesterday, but the main track was labeled fast throughout the card. There are spotty showers in the forecast up and down the Jersey Shore, so keeping a close eye on the conditions and the weather if you’re playing from afar will be important all weekend long.
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||4,5,8||2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||1||1||7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||2||2||3,5||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||5||5||3,6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||7||7||6,8||5||DBL, PK3, PK4|
New Jersey breds start the afternoon sprinting on the turf in an optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance race. I think there are many possibilities in this race, so I’ll seek coverage. I’ll make Cassation (#4) the top pick here. He has been on dirt for his first two starts at this meet, faltering at one mile last out. Sprinting on the grass is what he does best, winning his only career race at the Meadowlands in a five furlong race. He was a close second to What’s Up Mr. Z (#8), who makes his first start of the year in this race today, in his only start at this 5 and ½ furlong distance on this course. His two races at Gulfstream on the Tapeta against open company weren’t terrible. He likes to run on late and with some of the speed runners making their first starts of the year, there’s a chance that the early tempo could be a little more aggressive than it appears to be on paper. I see him as a horse that has some upside at higher odds. Magical Jaime (#5) is another runner that is getting back to sprinting on the turf for the first time since last year. He’s never finished off the board in turf sprints on this course. He finished in front of What’s Up Mr. Z last year at this level. He has a little more tactical speed than Cassation, so he could get first run with a heads up ride from the apprentice, Huayas. What’s Up Mr. Z had a successful five year old campaign, breaking his maiden in his first start of the year when sprinting five furlongs. He hit the board twice at this level before ending his season with a 4th place finish in the Joey P. Stakes behind two much better horses. His nose nearly hit the ground at the break that day and he had to alter course in the stretch, both of which likely cost him a placing in that race. He’s been good off the layoff in the past and he can go early or come from off the pace. On deeper tickets, Sunshine Charlie (#2) is a little sneaky in this race, making his first start off the Jerry Hollendorfer claim. He’s been dull in his first two local starts on the dirt, but he ran better on turf and synthetic in the past. He’s moving to a higher percentage barn and could be forwardly placed today.
All seven runners in this conditioned $5K claiming race qualify under the non-winners of a race in six months condition. Whatever Ziggy Mon (#1) has left in the tank, I think we’re going to find out here. He drops in class for his third start off a lengthy layoff for High McMahon. In 2021, he won three times in optional $35K claiming/N2X allowance races here and at Laurel, all three at this 5 and ½ furlong distance. He went to the sidelines after getting injured at the end of December that year. He didn’t return to the races until April of this year, when he finished a well-beaten 5th at Pimlico with conditioned $16K-$14K claimers. He showed improvement when moving to the turf last out against better, but he still finished 7th that day. This is his best surface and distance and now he drops to the bottom for his third race off the layoff. I don’t think he’s the same horse that was regularly running low 80’s Beyer figures, but he won’t need to be that horse to win this race. If he’s as good as he was last time, I think he’s got this race in the bag. I will also use Motion to Strike (#7), who will also likely be a shorter price in this race. He was claimed for $16K at the beginning of the year at Aqueduct, however, his last few starts haven’t been great on the NYRA circuit. Natalia Lynch beings him here and employs Paco Lopez to ride. If the track comes up wet, I’d move him up to the A line.
This is a conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming race where all seven runners qualify under the N2L condition. Both Golden Talent (#1) and Ninth of April (#3) are dropping in class for this race, and I think Ninth of April might be flying under the radar a bit. He’s a horse that has one win in 40 career starts, and typically I stay away from those horses. However, many of those losses came in races where he was in over his head. He finally broke his maiden in the mud at Parx in March, when beating a slow field for the $25K-$20K maiden claiming condition there. He was under the care of Linda Simon for that race, and he has been reunited with her after pulling up on the turf in his last start. When you pick out the races in maiden special weight company, which haven’t all been terrible, his races when he’s at the right level are solid. Golden Talent is coming off a pair of dull efforts with better, one in a turf sprint and one in a two turn race. He’s best going one turn on the dirt, which was the circumstance when breaking his maiden at Gulfstream with $25K maiden claimers back in December. He’s a three year old, so there is room for growth. I expect him to run better on the cutback today. Holy City (#4) is slated to make his third start of the month for Jose Camejo. He didn’t really pick up his feet when sprinting on the turf last week, when facing better. He drops in class and gets a key rider upgrade to Samy Camacho.
I like Practical Way (#3) in this $20K-$18K N3L claiming race. He’s dropping in class, running in a straight claiming race for the first time in his career. His last two starts weren’t very good, but he met a runner that freaked last time out in starter allowance company at Parx. He gets a rider upgrade to Jorge Vargas, after having apprentice riders on his back in his last two starts. He’s best when he’s able to stalk the pace, and I think that’s the kind of trip that he can work out. Horses sired by Practical Joke have won 21% of their races on dirt at Monmouth, so I think there’s a good chance he could improve in this spot. Upper Level (#1) is another class dropper and he appears to be the primary speed in this race. He’s coming to town off a dull effort in a turf sprint with $35K N3L claimers at Belmont at the beginning of the month. He was a winner two back with $30K N2L claimers in the slop at Aqueduct. He’s never won on a fast track, however, he’s also never run for this low of a tag. All four of Oscar Barrera’s starters that he brought to Monmouth this season have hit the board, winning with one of them. Rhumjar (#2) is a horse that I’ve been a fan of, but I think his connections have struggled to find a fit for him. He’s won at this distance, but his best races seem to be at two turns. He had a wide trip last out when running in an optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race here at two turns. Perhaps the cutback in distance will be the cure for what ails him.
This state bred maiden special weight for fillies and mares is going to be all about Joy and Prosperity (#2) for me. She broke slow and was wide when making her first start of the year last month at this level. Her debut on a good course at the Meadowlands was solid last year. She makes her third career start today and her second start off the layoff for Kent Sweezy. This barn has started off slow at this meet, but they have picked up steam, winning twice last week. I expect a forward move, which should propel her to a photo opportunity in the Winner’s Circle. My backup plan in this race is Duchess of Destin (#5), who is one of two Kelly Breen fillies trying the turf for the first time. Paco Lopez landed on Paint Me Beautiful (#4), who is the other Breen runner, however, I think the Destin filly has a better shot. She was slow in her debut in the slop last month, showing a little bit of interest late. Her dam has produced a winner on turf (Photon, who broke his maiden with New York maiden special weight company last week). Destin, who horses haven’t been great on the turf so far, did sire a winner of a turf sprint race on this course last weekend. I think Postino’s Prophecy (#3), who was a close second as the 9-10 favorite at this level last month, had an ideal trip that day and still couldn’t beat a field she should have beaten. I do think she’ll improve in her second start off the layoff, but she’s been a money burner in the past and I think Joy and Prosperity has more upside. She’ll be a saver on deeper plays for me, but I think the value in the multi-race exotics lies in trying to beat her.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 Ticket:
My All-A/B ticket in this wager is contingent upon Joy and Prosperity (#2, R5) beating the likely favorite, Postino’s Prophecy (#3, R5) in the final leg. I see the first leg as a wide open race where several have a shot. The nice thing about that race kicking off the program is getting to gauge how the race is being played and determining where the best value might be.
The Late Pick-5 starts with an optional claiming/conditional allowance race that basically plays out as a N1X allowance. Chad Brown sends out a pair of runners and it’s interesting to see Hector Diaz on Class Actor (#1) and Samy Camacho on Justice Department (#5). Diaz typically rode first call for Brown at Monmouth last season, winning at a 35% rate at Monmouth in 2022. With those numbers, it’s hard to imagine losing that gig, but Samy Camacho took over that role in 2023, and he’s won 53% of the races that ridden for Brown so far, including the maiden breaking effort from Justice Department. Diaz meanwhile has split time between Monmouth and Gulfstream, mired in a bit of a slump, winning only two times in his last 33 starts (which also coincided with the end of the Tampa Meet). On paper, I’d think that Class Actor would have a higher ceiling, winning in his debut against a respectable field at Keeneland. He was moved from Brad Cox to Chad Brown, which is an interesting decision, as both are elite trainers. Class Actor seemed to be working on the slower side up at Saratoga, so the decision was made to send him here, which might not be the best sign. Justice Department on the other hand came from off the pace to win at a time when closers were having trouble getting home. He has the distance experience which his stablemate is lacking. I’ll use him as the top pick, but I will seek some coverage as some of the others in this race are hard knocking types that won’t be pushovers. El Hermano (#3) is making his fourth start at this meet and his third on dirt here. He was a winner two back in starter allowance company and was third last time when wide most of the way around the track. Paco Lopez retains the mount as he faces some tougher customers today. Allaboutthemoney (#6) has some up and down form, and the two turns of this race is a bit of a question mark, however, when he’s good, he;s very tough to deal with. He crushed a starter allowance field when going a one turn mile at Aqueduct in February. He cleared the N1X condition at Penn National two back, but remains eligible for this condition due to the lower purse structure there. He was overmatched against a better field at Belmont last time out. If the Aqueduct version of this horse shows up in his local debut, the others are going to have their hands full.
This is an evenly matched field for a $12,500-$10,500 claiming race on the turf. However, I do think that Justintimeforwine (#7) has a pace advantage over his rivals in this spot. He likes to be alone the lead and Jose Ferrer is the right rider to ensure that kind of trip. He was a gate to wire winner two times at Tampa during their recently concluded meet, winning both of those races when facing $16K claimers. All of his losses came in allowance or starter allowance company there. I don’t see anyone that can or is interested in going with him in the early stages of this race. I think Ferrer will play “catch me if you can” and I’m not convinced that they can. Both Barleewon (#6) and Dream Liner (#8) would be capable of catching him on their best days, but both are coming off layoffs. Both have trainers that are capable of winning off the layoffs, but both also have trainers that are currently winless at this meet. Barleewon last found the Winner’s Circle around this time last year when beating state bred N1X foes at Belmont. He ran decent races in both of his starts at Saratoga and Aqueduct when facing open $25K claimers last year. He’s been on the sidelines since October though, and returning at this level isn’t the best sign. Dream Liner won the second leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Series this time last year. That leg will go off tomorrow without him being part of that. He was a trainer scratch out of the 6/4 race at this condition, perhaps signaling that he needed a little more time. He was competitive in protected spots over the winter at Tampa, but came up short each time. Perhaps as a seven year old, this is where he’ll fit best. On deeper tickets, I think Ultimate Irony (#5) is worth a look. I’ll forgive his last race where he got away a step slow when breaking from the rail and got buried near the back of the field. He looked like he had some run, but Jose Gomez opted not to swing him 5 or 6 wide, which he would have had to go to continue that momentum. He ran on late to get into 6th, but he didn’t get to run his race. His best might still leave him a bit short with this group, but I do expect a better effort, and at longer odds, I will look to use him underneath.
Conditioned $16K-$14K claimers are going six furlongs in the race that will kick off the last Pick-3 of the afternoon. Both Dart (#2) and Outlaw Country (#5) battled in a strong effort last out with them finishing one-two as the favorite and the second choice in the wagering. Both runners posted career typo speed figures in that conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claimer and both were claimed out of that race. While the water gets slightly deeper here, both of these runners are consistent types that figure to be main contenders. However, there’s enough there to suggest that regression could be an issue, so I’ll try the other three year with multiple wins, Super Rocker (#4) on top. He broke his maiden in the mud here last season and came back to clear the N2L allowance condition at Penn National a few months later when making his next start. He improved while facing better competition there and at Aqueduct this spring. He’s back with Bonnie Lucas after a pair of off the board finishes when running for Jose Salinas. The Beyer figure was light last out, but the track at Penn can get a little funky when the track is sealed as it was that day. About 30-45 minutes before post time that day, some rain came through the area. The track was labeled fast, but it was definitely an off track. The field was also facing a significant headwind down the backstretch that day. He came through bravely in between horses, but was outfinished by two others that were coming over the top, on a part of the course that seemed to be more favorable. I think that race was much better than it looks on paper, and I see him as a horse that could offer value in this race. Dart got the better of Outlaw Country last out and I think he is likely to do so again in this race. You have to love a horse like this who has three wins and has finished in the money a total of 12 times in 14 career dirt starts. Regardless of track condition or distance, he seems to always show up. Douglas Nunn has started the meet 0-8, but has claimed a very capable runner. Outlaw Country got back on track last out after three consecutive off the board finishes here and in New York. Unlike with Dart, whose new trainer kept the same rider, Ramon Martin opted to employ Lane Luzzi to ride this one instead of Samy Camacho.
Race 9, The $100K Goldwood Stakes:
The featured race drew a nice field of fillies and mares that will sprint about 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf course. Train to Artemus (#3) is an eight time winner and has two stakes wins in her last four starts, winning the The Very One at Pimlico and the Lightning City at Tampa. Paco Lopez rode her in both of those victories, and Breen gives him the return call today. She was overmatched in the Giant’s Causeway behind Wesley Ward’s Twilight Gleaming. She recovered well from that race and looks to be the one to beat. She might be a touch better at 5 furlongs as opposed to 5 and ½, but I think her class can get her home. Mrs. Green (#7) for Mark Casse is the main adversary here. She faded late when making her seasonal debut in a seven furlong turf race at Belmont. That was probably a little farther than what Casse wanted to send her for that race, but sometimes you have to work with what the condition book gives you. He brings her here, potentially as an audition for some of the sprint stakes at the Spa this summer. Casse has won with the last two horses he’s brought here for stakes races, winning the Jersey Derby with Boppy at the beginning of the month and winning the Nownownow Stakes with Webslinger last September. David Jacobsen sends out Self Isolation (#9) in a turf sprint for the first time. She has been dominant on the dirt in her last two starts on the dirt. Her two turn races came earlier in her career at Del Mar, both of which were fast paced races where she was doing a lot of the heavy lifting. She’s sired by Square Eddie who gets 17% winners from his turf starters. He broke his maiden sprinting six furlongs overseas back in 2008. A deep saver play would be the speedball, Sweet Temperament (#4). She is sired by Temple City, who has gotten 12% winners with turf sprinters over the past five years. She’s all about early speed and may be quick enough to clear. She faded late in her last few on the dirt with lesser company in Louisiana, but she does move barns for this race. Camejo, who is slumping, has good numbers with new acquisitions. She’s ambitiously placed, but Camacho sees fit to ride. She’ll be out to try to take them as far as she can for as long as she can.
I was very eager to bet back Parisian Vibe (#5) in a turf sprint after her big effort where she came up a bit short two weeks ago with $20K-$18K N3L sprinters. She was shuffled back at the start in that race, which is never a good thing in a five furlong race. She was flying at the end, coming within less than a length of Flip My Id, who had things her own way up from . I thought Parisian Vibe was the best horse in that race and thought she’d make a ton of sense in her next start. However, when looking at the latest condition book, there’s not a ton of options for her in a turf sprint between now and the end of July, at least if the plan is to keep her local. So the choice was made to bring her back for the same tag she was claimed for on the dirt. She was a handy winner two back when beating N2L foes at this distance. Her game is typically front end speed, despite showing a new wrinkle when closing out of necessity last time. She’ll likely have company on the front end as there is other speed signed on. Queen Cadence (#3) makes her first start since clearing the N2L condition at Laurel back in February. Early on in her career, she was a “need the lead” type, but she stalked a slow pace and punched on the leaders as a much the best winner in her last start. That’s the kind of trip that will likely be needed today to win this race. Madeline Rowland hasn’t had many chances at this meet, so riding for Claudio Gonzalez here for the first time is an important business opportunity as the meet goes on. Paco Lopez gets the assignment aboard Bullet on Tap (#2) who is another stalker that could benefit from a hot pace up front. She’s cutting back in distance after a pair of one turn mile races at Gulfstream with $6,250 N3L claimers. Her maiden win came at this distance and she was a winner three back when going seven furlongs.
Top Pick Winners: 35/158 (22.2%) – $205.00/ $1.30 ROI
Although the weather held up for the duration of the eight race program, the three turf races were taken off the grass and moved to the main track. As a result, only three of my top picks remained for the day. The featured 7th race lost both of its primary players with the surface switch. The race of the day was the 6th race, which was a $50K-$40K claiming contest with a thrilling three horse photo that went to Anthracite, who offered some solid value at 9-1.
Front end speed was good, but not mandatory. Six of the eight races were won on the front end, but none of those results were shocking. Two races had cheap speed that fell apart. The hope is that they’ll be be able to return to the turf for the weekend, with a pair of stakes races scheduled for lawn,