Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 6/4/22 – By Eric Solomon

There’s a solid 12 race program at Monmouth Park that many handicappers will want to pay attention to. The Pick Your Prize Tournament is today which is a hybrid handicapping tournament that is hosted on site, with an online option. All 12 local races are fair game today in the contest. The feature race on the program is the $100K Mr. Prospector Stakes for three year olds and up, sprinting six furlongs on the dirt. 20 time winner, Greeley and Ben makes his first start since being claimed off of Karl Broberg at Oaklawn last month.  He’ll be facing the Grade 3 Runhappy and the Grade 3 Toboggan winner, Drafted and seven other rivals in a contentious race. We also are treated to the first two baby races of the year in New Jersey, in Races 2 and 6.

 

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 5 3,5 DBL, PK5
2 6 5,6 4 DBL, PK3,PK4
3 4 2,4,8 DBL, PK3
4 8 1,5,8 DBL, PK3
5 4 4 2 DBL, PK3
6 6 4,6 7 DBL, PK3
7 5 5 7,8 DBL, PK3, PK6
8 5 5,7 6 DBL, PK3, PK5
9 3 3 5,6,7 DBL, PK3, PK4
10 1 1 2 8 DBL, PK3
11 8 2,8 3 9 DBL
12 5 3,5,7 6

 

 

Race 1:

Six fillies start the afternoon, competing in a conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming race at 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. Murumbi (#3) and Lap of Luxury (#5) are the only multiple winners in the field and they look to have the advantage over the other four runners here. Lap of Luxury  will be the top pick for Jesus Cruz. She won her debut back in December on dirt with $16K maiden claimers at Tampa and then followed up that effort with an upset score with optional claiming/starter allowance foes on the turf. She hasn’t been as effective in her next three starts, finishing off the board in each. She takes a significant drop in class after running a respectable 4th on the main track in an off the turf race in April. The ten pound apprentice, Laureano Sosa, who already has a win at the meet, gets the assignment. Murumbi is the logical alternative for Gerald Bennett, who had a nice weekend here last week. This filly was overmatched with $30K-$25K N3L claimers when sprinting last month in her local debut. She was right behind Lap of Luxury in the same $20K off the turf claiming race three starts ago. I think she can rebound off her last effort today. 

Race 2:

A pair of Parx invaders look to be tough in the first two year old race of the year, which is a 4 and ½ furlong maiden special weight race for fillies. Girl Trouble (#6) only has one published work for Butch Reid, but it was a good one, drilling a 47:1 four furlong bullet at Parx last week. Reid has great numbers with firsters and two year olds, and he had a few baby winners at the meet last year. My True Passion (#5) raced once in a two furlong dash in April over at Parx, and now makes her second career start for Scott Lake. She was 4th that day, beaten 3+ lengths. Dexter Haddock comes in to ride her in her second try and her first around the bend. On deeper tickets, Carats Forever (#4) is a New Jersey bred that appears ready to go for Eddie Owens. He sent out a debut winner last year at this meet, and this daughter of Sea Wizard, has been working well in the AM over the local course. 

Race 3: 

I think Mosler’s Image (#4) is going to be the one to beat in this $16K-$14K N3L claiming contest, which is the first turf contest of the day. Her two career turf efforts were definitely stronger than any of her dirt races. She makes her first start of the year for Mike Trombetta, who hits with 18% of his runners coming off a six month plus layoff. Goodbye Carolina (#8) has never run a bad race on the grass, and always is in the thick of things. She cleared the N2L condition when beating $16K claimers two starts ago at Tampa. Twisted Treasure, who beat her last out, came back to win in her next start. Texas Magic (#2) was claimed for $25K when beating N2L claimers in April at Tampa. Darien Rodriguez has great numbers off the claim, so I can look past the fact that he’s running her for a $16K tag here. She adds lasix and continues to improve, so she definitely fits with this group.

Race 4:

Three blue blooded first time starters figure to have the advantage in this maiden special weight contest. Chad Brown sends out Balantyne (#8) for his debut after some solid works over the local oval. This son of Tapit was purchased at the Keeneland September Sale in 2020 for $310K. His dam, Graeme Six was a graded stakes winner at this distance, and she foaled a graded stakes winner (Cali Star). The outside post should be a plus for him. Todd Pletcher and Paco Lopez team up with Inspired Mischief (#5), who was a $450K purchase at the same Keeneland 2020 sale. He’s sired by Into Mischief out of the Curlin mare, Inspired By Grace. That mare was foaled by the champion mare, Havre de Grace, whose biggest win came when beating the boys in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes in 2011, en route to being named American Horse of the Year. It is interesting that both Brown and Pletcher are still looking for their first wins of this meet. Pass and Stow (#1) draws the rail for his debut for Jerry Hollendorfer. He’s sired by Medaglia d’Oro, out of the 2016 Grade 1 Test winning mare, Paola Queen. Hollendorfer has hit 18% of his first time starters since 2021, and he definitely fits from a workout and pedigree standpoint.  

Race 5: 

An optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race ends the Win-Early Pick-5 sequence this afternoon. Times Union (#4) won on debut in a decent maiden allowance at the end of April over at Oaklawn. He was a little green, but still good enough to win at first asking. He comes north to face winners for the first time, catching a short field with some runners in suspect form. I think with a small move forward he can take down this group in start number two. Sicilia Mike (#2) has been a very useful horse, banking almost $650K in his 64 career starts. He typically runs decent races, but he’s finished second or third almost five times more than he’s won in his career. He’s been close in his last four, winning once, but his speed figures have been tailing off. I still like him better than a lot of the others in the race.

WIN-EARLY PICK-5 Ticket:

This is a tricky sequence today where I struggled to find a single. The closest horse to that would be Times Union (#4, R5), who makes his second career start. I think he beat a good maiden field at long odds and could come right back to score here. I ended up putting together a $54 ticket, which is a little more that I’d like to spend, given the field sizes in the sequence, but it does provide the coverage I think I’ll need here. 

Race 6:

Todd Pletcher and Mike Repole have teamed up to send out some decent two year olds at Monmouth over the last few years and they’ll team up with Royal Mover (#6) in this 4 and ½ furlong maiden special weight. He’s a son of Practical Joke that cost $170K at the Keeneland September Sale in 2021. He’s based at Saratoga, and is scheduled to ship in for his debut. Rol Again Dancer (#4) is the only experienced runner in this field, debuting at Keeneland, two months ago. He tired that day, fading to 4th, beaten eight lengths, but gained critical race day experience. He’s a first crop son of Haskell winner, Girvin, so there’s reason to think that he’ll take to the local surface. On deeper tickets, Eddie Owens sends out another New Jersey bred horse sired by Sea Wizard, Great Navigator (#7). If Carats Forever runs a decent race in the 2nd, I’d definitely upgrade his chances. His works seem like they’d be good enough to be a factor with these. 

Race 7:

They’re back on the turf for the start of the Jersey Shore-6. Conditioned $16K-$14K filly and mare claimers go 5 and ½ furlongs here. Every runner qualifies under the N2L condition here. Magic Moonstar (#5) is the one for me here, making his second start of the year of Leopoldo Ortega. She’s following a similar pattern that led her to success last year. She made her first start of the year on the dirt, where she was a nonfactor. Last year, she switched to the turf for the second start of the year, and she ran a much improved race, finishing 4th in maiden allowance company. He would go one to break his maiden in his third start of the year. If she can run back to her second off the layoff race from 2021, I think she’s going to be too much for this field to deal with. Nonna Patrizia (#8) makes her first start against winners and her first start on the turf after decimating a $12,500-$10,500 maiden claiming field in her local debut.  She intended to debut on the turf with maiden special weight types but that race was rained off the turf. Her next two starts were carded for dirt, but it seems that there is intent to get her on the grass. We had our first second time winner of the meet streak across the wire first yesterday (Caliente Rum), so she’ll be a contender to keep that trend going today. Herald Angel (#7) is the morning line favorite and likely post time favorite here. She is making her first start of the year after a dull ending to her 2021 campaign. She ran her best races at this distance back at the Spa over the summer. I like her, but I fear the price will be too short to play in the verticals. 

Race 8:

Cactus Jack (#5) looked like he was back after going off form in his last three races of 2021. He ran a strong race in his return with $5K time restricted claimers at Tampa in April. He moves up in class, but I don’t see this as an exceptional field for this level of competition. For a horse that 17 wins in 67 career starts, it’s a little odd that High Five Cotton (#7) hasn’t won a race in his last nine starts. I’ll give him a mulligan after his dull effort in the slop a few weeks ago in his first start of the meet. He was a winner at the meet here last season and should benefit from having the services of Paco Lopez. Arcadia Calls (#6) drops in class after being a non-factor in his last several starts. He’s started nine times on the dirt since the start of 2021. He’s won one of them and hasn’t really been close to winning any of the others. The drop is likely necessary, and he’s not facing the strongest group. However, I won’t be racing to windows to take a short price on him.

Race 9:

There’s not a lot of turf form to go off in this $30K-$25K maiden claiming dash at five furlongs on grass. Amity Road (#3) had a pair of solid efforts in dirt sprints with better company at Oaklawn for Jerry Hollendorfer. He’s sired by Street Boss, which is a pedigree I like when playing turf sprinters. He’s been working well since coming north last month. Victor’s Valiant (#6) has shown nothing on the main track when facing maiden allowance company at Parx and Penn National. He drops in for a tag and tries grass for the first time. He’s a son of War Front out of an Arch mare that has a lot of turf pedigree in her bloodlines. He might be one that finds more success going longer on the grass, but I could give him a shot in this spot. Ready to Fly (#7) is another one that has some turf pedigree to fall back on when trying the grass for the first time. He needed his last race last month when making his first start since an off the board finish at Gulfstream back in January. If none of the first time turfers take to the lawn, Mr. Extension (#5) would be the direction that I’d look toward. His second career start was on the turf at Gulfstream last summer, where he finished a respectable 4th. Toss his next start off the layoff and he could have an impact in this race if the other three come up empty. 

Race 10:

New Jersey breds go six furlongs in this optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance race at six furlongs. I like Smithwick’s Spice (#1) quite a bit in this race. He’s a horse that has historically run a much stronger race in his second race off the layoff compared to his first. He was a winner with N2X when making his second start of 2020, and then he came back to beat this level in 2021, when making his second start of the year. He was rusty at this level in his last start , but he drilled a bullet last week and looks to be sitting on a big effort. If you’re looking to pare down a Late Pick-5 ticket, I’d be good using him as a single. If you’re able to afford some coverage, the morning line favorite, On the Come Up (#2) figures to be dangerous after finishing 3rd at a similar level last month. He ended his 2021 with a win when Paco Lopez climbed aboard for the first time. Lopez rode him in his seasonal debut last out, finishing 3rd, beaten seven with similar. Last Romance crushed that group, but he was right there Country Miles (#3) in that race. On deeper tickets, Shield of Faith (#8) is not without a chance from his outside draw. You have to go back to July of 2020 to find his last win, but he was coming off the layoff that afternoon. He was popular at the claim box last year before being protected in his last two tries. He is running for the tag today in his return, and there’s a chance that he could be overlooked here. 

Race 11: The $100K Mr. Prospector Stakes

The feature is a very good six furlong stakes race for three year olds and up. If the track continues to play fairly, I have to think that this race sets up for a closer. Quick Tempo (#1) on the rail and Hollywood Jet (#9) in the outside stall both have only one way to go, and that’s fast early. There’s a few others that could force the issue with them as well. I’m going to try my old friend, Wendell Fong (#8) to pull the upset here. He hasn’t been great over his last several races, but he’s the kind of horse that loves when a good pace battle develops in front of him, and as long as this race stays together, I think he’s going to get the right set up. He ran much better races under those conditions last year when winning the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel and finishing second in the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct. I think he’s going to be overlooked in the wagering here, likely going off at odds larger than his 8-1 morning line figure. Drafted (#2) is the other logical choice in this race, coming off an off the pace win in the Grade 3 Runhappy at Belmont. He has two graded stakes wins in his last three starts for David Duggan. My only concern about him is wondering why he’d run here instead of the True North Stakes at Belmont next week. Perhaps that race might be coming up deeper than usual with the heavy hitters pointing toward the Met Mile. He’s also an eight year old gelding, so the Grade 2 win doesn’t mean as much for him. However, the purse is significantly better there, with a $300K purse on the line. He may wind up choosing that race instead but, I still think he fits very nicely with this field. You don’t see too many horses that have 32 starts, and wins in 20 of them, but that’s the case with Greeley and Ben (#3), who makes his first start off the Bonnie Lucas claim. Karl Broberg claimed this son of Greeley’s Conquest back in March of 2021 and he took him on quite a ride over the following 13 months. He went from a $10K claimer to a multiple stakes winner during that time. He was third two back in the Grade 3 Whitmore, and I think Broberg started running out of options for him. He was entered in an optional claiming/allowance race with a $62,500 tag, a race which he won, and Lucas jumped right in. She brings him back into stakes company, looking for an instant ROI. He’ll likely get first run on the speed horses, but I do worry that he might be too close to the pace, setting things up for the deeper closers. I will use the Parx invader, Hollywood Jet as a saver on some deeper tickets, and I would definitely upgrade either him or Quick Tempo, should one or the other scratch. Hollywood Jet was a stakes winner at Parx and is making his first start outside of Bensalem, PA. He’s been on quite a roll lately, and this will be an acid test for him. However, I do think he’ll benefit from the outside draw, and there’s something to be said about a horse that has won seven straight times. 

Race 12:

The nightcap is an open $12,500-$10,500 claiming race at 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. They ran this condition two weeks ago when On the Couch (#3) came from off the pace to win when going one mile. He was claimed by Jose Delgado, who is a good claiming trainer, and brought back quickly at the same level of competition. He’s a definite player in this race, and I’ll use him on the A line, but I’m not sure the added distance is a positive for him. I think there’s value in using Thomond Park (#5) on top, at 10-1 on the morning line. The red hot Isaac Castillo climbs back aboard after winning with him last September on this course. He’s been facing tougher, and struggling, especially of late. However, in his last two starts, he ran on the dirt two back, and had a bad break last time. Derek Ryan gave him a little extra time and brings him back at a lower level, at a track where he’s a multiple winner. I’m also interested in seeing what Miracle Silver (#7) has to offer here. This War Front gelding ran very well with $16K claimers at Gulfstream last month when going 1 mile and ⅛ on the turf. He’s never won a race on the grass, as most of his best work has come on synthetics. However, his turf form is solid enough to contend at this level. Bird’s Eye View (#6) is one to use on deeper tickets for me. He’s a consistent type, but he doesn’t win a ton of races. He found traffic in the same race that On the Couch won last time out. It looks like this eight year old gelding might be slowing down a bit. He still could win this race with the right trip, however, I think 3-1 (ML) is too short, and at that number, I’ll be trying to beat him.

 

Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners: 22/83 (26.5%) – $221.80 / $2.67 ROI

 

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