Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 6/3/22 – By Eric Solomon

The first Friday program of the year at Monmouth Park gets underway at 2:00 ET today. We have an eight race program to start the week of racing in Oceanport, New Jersey. There’s a $34,350 Pick-5 carryover after a tough Late Pick-5 sequence was not hit on Monday. That adds intrigue to the Win-Early Pick-5, which has been paying tremendously all meet long without carryover money seeded into the pot. The perennial leading rider here, Paco Lopez, is not named on any mounts this afternoon, as he’ll be in my backyard, riding some stakes horses at Penn National on their Penn Mile program. 

 

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 4 2,3,4 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 2 2 1,3 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 1 1,5 DBL, PK3, PK6
4 5 5 7 DBL, PK3, PK 5
5 1 1,3,6 2 DBL, PK3, PK4
6 3 3,4 7 DBL, PK3
7 7 2,7,8 DBL
8 5 5,8 6 1

 

 

 

Race 1: 

The day starts off with a $12,500-$10,500 maiden claiming race at two turns on the dirt. There is not much speed signed on at all, so I’m going to try Benny’s Fiddle (#4) on top in his 11th career attempt. His last two starts haven’t been good, but his race two weeks ago is a complete toss, as Ademar Santos lost his irons early on that day. Two back, he was wide and unable to get to the front with $16K maiden claimers at Tampa. His effort three back on the front end with a slow tempo wasn’t bad though. Closers were doing well last week, but lone speed could be dangerous in a race like this. Ice Bar (#2) is the one to beat, shipping in from Parx and dropping in class for John Servis.  He hit the board twice at the start of his career when running with $16K maiden claimers. He struggled a bit with better horses, but the speed figures have gone in the right direction. He’ll be on the A line for me and he’ll likely be a short price, but I think he can be beaten. Touch of a Buzz (#3) was wide, but ran a solid race to be third two weeks ago with $10K maiden claimers. Breaking closer to the rail should help  his cause in what will be his second career two turn try on the dirt. Albin Jimenez rode a longshot winnerfor Kelly Breen in the Miss Liberty Stakes (Whimsical Muse) on Monday.

Race 2: 

The company that Luxero (#2) has been keeping lately is greatly superior to the horses that his rivals have seen lately. He takes a significant, but reasonable drop in class into this time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claiming race after a pair of disappointing efforts at Gulfstream. Prior to shipping south, he was in very good form, running huge efforts at Parx and Laurel when going two turns in N1X allowance company and $25K starter allowance company. His races in Florida were one turn mile races in optional claiming/$8K starter allowance company. Claudio Gonzalez gave him two months off and he’s been working nicely over this oval in the AM. I think he can sit off the early pace and make his move on the turn, giving him a big chance in here. Both Hot and Heavy (#1) and Rattlesnake Ridge (#3) are in very good current dirt form while working their way up the class ladder. Hot and Heavy has two wins and two close second place finishes in his last four starts. He beat time restricted $8K-$7K claimers here two weeks ago, which doesn’t count toward eligibility to the time restriction in this race. I typically prefer the horses that are sharper in this kind of race. Rattlesnake Ridge didn’t run great on the turf last out at Tampa, but he had won two straight on the dirt prior to that start. One of those wins came against open $6,250 claimers, so this spot is not a massive rise in class for him.

 

Race 3: 

The first turf contest of the afternoon is a five furlong sprint for conditioned $30K-$25K claimers. I always like horses who take a big step forward in their first start, and that description fits Mischief Mogul (#1) to a tee. Jeffrey Englehart claimed him off Todd Pletcher two starts back for $40K. He ran him back in a six furlong sprint at Belmont where he fought tooth and nail to the wire, resulting in a dead heat for win. This is a logical spot for this three year old to face winners for the first time. He’s going to want to go from the rail, and there is some other speed signed on, so Lucago (#5) makes a lot of sense if his synthetic form transfers to the turf. Toss his last where the 1 mile and 70 yard challenge on the Tapeta was too far for him. He has three synthetic wins and a dirt win, two of them coming at this five furlong distance. He’s the only multiple winner in this field, and when looking at his pedigree, I feel confident that he’ll handle the course.

 

Race 4:

New Jersey bred fillies and mares go six furlongs in this optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance race that starts the Late Pick-5 this afternoon. I’m going to be singled to Pomtini (#5) in this spot, assuming she gets a fast track. She’s run five times, twice on a fast track, and three times on wet tracks. Her races on dry footing are significantly better than her efforts in the mud. She ran a monstrous race last year in her second race off the layoff while moving from a wet to dry track. She falls into the same pattern today while facing seven other rivals, none of which have any recent efforts that jump off the page. I think she graduates from this condition today. On deeper tickets, Rachel Caroline (#7) would be the one I would use as a saver. Toss her last at two turns, which was a total disaster. She has shown that she can be successful as a closing sprinter, which isn’t the worst running style in a field like this that does have some cheap speed signed on.

 

Race 5:

Fillies and mares close out the Win-Early Pick-5 sequence in a conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race on the grass. All eight runners that are entered qualify under the N2L condition. This is a race where I’d like to get some coverage. I’ll go four deep, and honestly, hitting the all button might not be the worst option in this spot. Along the Way (#1) is the top pick, getting back on the grass and making her third start off the layoff. She ran a decent third last out with conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claimers on the local dirt course. She broke her maiden on this turf course with $25K maiden claimers back in September and tries again for a higher percentage trainer. Judge Judith (#3) is a logical contender, facing winners for the first time today. She has four career turf tries and has never finished off the board. She likes to be forwardly placed, which historically has not been a bad thing when the rails are all the way out. Cool Front (#6) is an interesting filly in this race. She blew the break and closed from way off the pace to break her maiden at Tampa in December of 2020. She’s winless in five starts since, but she’s been much more forwardly placed in those races. She has rated nicely in her last two starts with better, but she hasn’t been gaining on the leaders. I’m curious to see what kind of tactics Angel Rodriguez will employ here. Real Wild Solution (#2) is not without a shot here, while making her second start off the layoff. She hit the board a few times here last season in similar spots, and broke her  maiden on this course in 2020. She’s probably better underneath, but we’ve seen several horses with similar running lines pay large dividends thus far at this meet. 

WIN-EARLY PICK-5 Ticket:

To me, this ticket will be all about Pomtini (#5, R4). She’s following a similar trend that led up to her most successful career race last season, and I think she’s in a spot where she fits very nicely. I’m going to single her in that spot. I toyed with the idea of using Luxero (#2, R2) as a single as well because the races that he’s coming out of are light years better than some of his rivals. My thought would be that if I used the two singles, it would afford me the luxury of hitting the all button in Race 5. However, there are two other horses in Race 2, Hot and Heavy (#1, R2) and Rattlesnake Ridge (#3, R2), that are in good form despite moving up in class. I ended up including both of them, and using only half the field in the 5th race.

Race 6:

A pair of lightly raced four year olds take on six more experienced rivals in the first of two co-feature races on the program. I think both Willy Mc (#3) and Tenebris (#4) are live in this optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race. Jose Camejo has done a great job with new acquisitions and this is the first time he’ll be saddling the Louisiana shipper, Willy Mc. He’s a son of Overanalyze that has been steadily improving, despite some stops and starts in his career. He broke his maiden at Evangeline in his second career start, and then struggled next out at Delta when facing winners. He ran at the Fair Grounds twice over the winner, both in two turn races, hitting the board in both. He likes to be on or near the lead and I see him as a candidate to take another step forward today. Tenebris has done little wrong in his first two career starts at Tampa. He won his debut in March and then narrowly missed at this level when going two turns for the first time. He’s been working well locally for Michelle Hemingway, who won with her only other starter at this meet so far. Handy (#7) is a runner in here that is a total X factor to me. Two of his last three races have been awful, with a monster effort at Aqueduct sandwiched in between. Prior to his recent inconsistency, he was going very well over the winter at Parx and Aqueduct. He did have a spot of trouble as the favorite last out, and so I can give him another chance here. 

Race 7: 

Three year olds an up dash five furlongs on the grass in this N1X allowance. Basso (#7) is interesting getting back on the turf for the first time as a four year old. His best races last season were his one turf races on the grass. He was third at this level last season when facing older horses and a very nice horse, High Limit Room, finished in front of him. He’s in his third race off the layoff and could be upset minded here. Call Me Harry (#8) is definitely the one to beat and will likely be a short price when he goes into the starting gate. This six year old gelding makes his first since a narrow defeat at this condition against a stronger bunch at Aqueduct. He’s certainly the class of this group, but he’ll be going a shorter distance than he’s ever gone before, and sometimes these five furlong races can be a little tricky. He’s definitely worth using, and he’ll be on the A line for me, but I’m not convinced that he’s a single. On deeper tickets, Equuleus (#2) ships north from Gulfstream after winning his first start on turf at this distance with maiden/optional claiming company. His speed figure came back a little light, but he conceded a decent amount of ground from his rivals and still won clear that day. He draws closer to the rail today and gets Samy Camacho to ride for his local debut. I see him as a horse that has some definite upside in this race.

Race 8: 

$10K maiden claiming fillies and mares go 5 and ½ furlongs in the Friday nightcap. Barefoot Dancer (#5) for Kelly Breen gets the call here. She came back off a layoff and faded to 4th against a better field of $12,500-$10,500 maiden claimers here three weeks ago. Breen’s horses typically need a race before they’re at their best when they;re coming from off the bench. She had a decent work here last week and looks like a filly that could have a forward move in this race. I don’t recall seeing too many horses starting at Monmouth that last faced both quarter horses and thoroughbred horses at Los Alamitos, but that’s what we’re getting here with Pearls and Heels (#8). Jerry Hollendorfer brings her across the country after a 5th place finish when going 1,000 Yards (slightly farther than 4 and ½ furlongs) against $16,500 maiden claimers. She was a close second at that distance two back with $15K maiden claimers. I have no clue how the class lines match up to the others in this field, but I do know that her two races at the end of the year at Del Mar and Los Alamitos (Daytime Races) would put her close with this group. Sassy Charlee (#6) takes a significant drop in class after a pair of dull efforts with $40K maiden claimers at Tampa. Her effort three back at that level wasn’t bad, so there is some ability there. She’s another player in this race, but as the favorite, I’m not sure she’ll offer the best value. On deeper tickets, the Bonnie Lucas saddles the Arkansas bred, Mo Stylish (#1) for the first time this afternoon. She faded badly in a large field alst out in state bred $20K maiden claiming company at Oaklawn on a day where not many horses won on the front end. Her effort two back would likely get her closer with this group. She may have the best speed from her rail post in a race where there’s not much current form to go off of.

Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners: 21/77 (27%) – $217.20 / $2.82 ROI

 

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