Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 6/4/23 – By Eric Solomon

The Sunday card at Monmouth looks like a good one, as there are 11 races this afternoon. The featured race is the Smart N Classy Handicap for fillies and mares going one mile on the dirt. The card has many favorites that could be vulnerable, so there is the potential for some nice payouts this afternoon. Dry conditions continue to persist in the Northeast, but the weather should be ideal for racing. First post for this card 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 1 1,10 3,9 DBL, PK5
2 3 3 1 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 4 4,5 DBL, PK3
4 2 2,5,6 DBL, PK3
5 7 7 4 DBL, PK3
6 6 6,8 DBL, PK3, PK6
7 5 5,7 4 DBL, PK3, PK5
8 4 3,4 7,12 DBL, PK3, PK4
9 8 8 2,3 DBL, PK3
10 3 3,7 5 4 DBL
11 2 2 1


Race 1:

The Sunday program begins with a state bred maiden special weight contest going one mile on the lawn. I’m going to try Vesparo (#1), breaking from the rail for Rory Huston. He made his debut in a five furlong sprint last fall at the Meadowlands, which felt like a race to simply get a feel for race day. He finished 8th that day, about six lengths behind Jersey Gregg (#8). He’s back to make his first start of the year, and he’s stretching out to two turns, which as a sob of English Channel, is probably what he is going to do best. The dam Forbidden Isle has foaled two runners that had high win percentages, one of which was strong on the turf. With many of the shorter priced runners starting near the outside, I think he can benefit from a ground saving trip. Irish Rill (#10) is the morning line favorite after a respectable effort against a good field of open maiden special weight runners here last month. This is another runner from the mare Irish Sovereign, who foaled the multiple graded stakes winner, Irish War Cry and Irish Strait, who was a graded stakes winner on the turf. This will be his first start against fellow New Jersey breds, so he’ll be getting class relief while running for a higher purse. Isabelle de Tomaso, who is the owner and breeder also sends out Go to the Kingdom (#9), who looks like he could have a shot in this race as well. He’s sired by the Animal Kingdom, who was winner on all three surfaces. This runner debuted on the dirt in a sprint at Laurel back in March. He was roughed up at the break and relegated to the back of the field. He came with a wide bid, but finished 6th. He’ll try the grass for the first time, as there are turf influences on both sides of the family. Changing the Karma (#3) is trying to find the Winner’s Circle for the first time in what will be his 13th start. His best races have come on firm courses, which is what he’s going to get this afternoon. He just missed at this level back in August with a strong effort. He would face open maiden special weight company in his next two starts, both on courses labeled soft. He came back to start his season in the same maiden special weight race that Irish Rill is coming out of. He was bumped hard at the start and was well-beaten. He likely needed that race coming off a six month break. While I don’t love playing maidens with this many starts, his two turf routes on this course at this level were competitive last year. 


Race 2:

Conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claimers sprint 5 and ½ furlongs on the main track in this race. I don’t love Gutzy (#1) or Morethanicanhandle (#2), who are the two shorter prices in this race. However, there aren’t many runners here that are suited for this distance on the dirt. I landed on Depoli (#3), who will be facing winners for the first time after breaking his maiden with $10K maiden claimers last month. He was definitely better than Shea on the Lam in that race, and that one came back to be an easy winner here on Friday. I am a little concerned about some of his antics at the start in races, especially in his dirt races, however, he feels a horse that is capable of getting better. The Louisiana shipper, Gutzy is who I’ll use as a backup. There isn’t much speed in this race, and Morethanicanhandle hasn’t shown the same zip on the dirt as he has on the turf. He was competitive in state bred allowance company at the Fair Grounds, narrowly losing his last three starts in New Orleans. He shipped north to Evangeline Downs for Camejo where he faltered, finishing last of six. This is a big drop in class for a horse that has shown ability with Louisiana breds, however, if he can get close to his prior efforts, he’s going to be tough to deal with at this level. 


Race 3:

I’m going to try a longshot in this $8K-$7K N4L claiming race and make Current Hope (#4) my top pick. Assuming that neither Mr. Extension (#3) and Fenway (#6) scratch from this race, I think there’s a good chance that they’ll be locked up in a speed duel early on. Both horses were front running winners on the 5/14 card, where early speed was very good. The course has been more fair over the past two weeks, so I see both horses hitting a wall late. Current Hope was a winner on this course last season, coming from off the pace to easily beat a $7,500-$6,500 N3L claiming field. He went off form in his next two starts and was given several months off. He returned at Parx last month at this level where he finished an even 5th. I see him as the most likely runner to be running on late. Marvin (#5) is the other runner that I’ll use here, as he certainly fits on figures. He has some early speed too, so Samuel Marin is going to have to avoid trying to go with the other two runners early, while trying to get him to relax off the leaders. That hasn’t always been easy for this horse, so I’ll proceed with some caution, especially if he’s sitting around his 5-2 morning line odds. He does have some good races on this course and the class relief will be helpful.


Race 4:

We’ll get back on the grass for this $16K-$14K maiden claiming race, going 5 and ½ furlongs. This race is a head scratcher to me, as there is not much turf form to go off. I landed on Secret Temptation (#2), taking on the boys in her first start of the year. She ran two races on the synthetic last year against two year old fillies at Gulfstream, improving in her second start. Her dam foaled Magic Moonstar, who is a three time winner at this distance on this course, winning in allowance company in her last start in 2022. Her sire, Secret Circle, who was a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner in sprint races, gets 23% winners with his turf sprinters over the past five years. No Tomorrow (#6) has good figures in two Tapeta starts at Gulfstream, so the hope is that her form will transfer to the turf here. She’ll likely be the post time favorite because other than the professional maiden, Bointheback (#3), no one else has really come close to matching his speed figure from his last try. I don’t see much value, but I feel the need to cover with him. Keep Dem Talking (#5) tried the turf for the first time last out in a two turn at against better horses. He was near the front before faltering badly at the top of the stretch. His race three starts back at Parx on the dirt was solid when finishing third against better. He showed that he can handle the grass last out, so cutting back in distance while also getting class relief feels like the right move for him. 


Race 5:

The final leg of the Win-Early Pick-5 is a dual conditioned starter allowance race  for horses that have started for a $20K tag or less and have never won four races. I’m going to try to take this ticket home with Rue La La (#7) as a potential single in a race that has a wide open feel to it. Her trainer, Jose Camejo, has been cold to start this meet, but he’s hit at a 15% rate at Monmouth over the past five years. This Star Guitar mare is well-spotted in this race as she looks to rebound from a dull effort with state bred N4L allowance types at the Fair Grounds. She ships here to face open company for the first time ever. She has good tactical speed and she’s a good fit for this distance. I think she will rebound to beat this field today. I’ll use the morning line favorite, Your Inheritance (#4) as a saver. She hasn’t run a distance this short since her debut, which wasn’t great. She’s been good at seven furlongs on the dirt, which isn’t an option here. She’s a good fit for the condition, and while seven furlongs isn’t an option here, I’d be more comfortable using her at six than 5 and ½ furlongs. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $48 Ticket:

I put together this ticket, knowing that there are two spots where I could pare down and have runners singled. I like Rue La La (#7, R5) a good deal in the last leg of this sequence. She’s probably my second strongest opinion on the card and the strongest in this wager. I think the favorite, Your Inheritance (#4, R5), might not be the best fit for the distance, but I did end up tossing her in from a class standpoint. I like Depoli (#3, R2) a good amount in the second race as well, and I think he offers good value at 6-1. There are some vulnerable favorites in this sequence, so the payouts could be juicy with this wager today.


Race 6:

The Jersey Shore-6 starts off with fillies and mares sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf in a N1X allowance race. I was bullish on Lost My Sock (#8) a few weeks ago when she was entered in a race at this same condition. That race came off the turf, and she finished an even third on the dirt. Going into that race, she had been facing significantly better fields in turf sprints than the rivals she was up against that day. I still believe that to be true with this field, however, her lack of early speed stands out enough for me to look elsewhere for a top pick. I’m using her on the A line, but I’m looking at Glitter Up (#6) on top here. She has enough speed that she could be on the front end, but she also has the ability to rate. She was very good when breaking her maiden at six furlongs at Aqueduct last fall. She has been competitive when facing similar fields in turf sprints. She tried routing in her last start in February and was a strong second. She is definitely at her best on the turf and I think she’s capable of getting the job done here. 


Race 7:

I’m not sold on the Pletcher runner, Spirit and Fire (#3) in this maiden special weight sprint for fillies and mares. She’s making her first start after a dull debut as a 2-5 favorite at Churchill last June. Her works have been okay, but if this horse were trained by someone else and ridden by a jockey not named Paco Lopez, she’d probably be 8-1 on the morning line. This is not the kind of favorite I’d like to bet. I’m going to go with Notable Queen (#5) on top for Jose Camejo and Brittlyn Inc. Camejo trains almost all of the horses that this group owns, which are typically claiming types and Louisiana breds. I haven’t seen them spend large amounts at the sales frequently, however, in August of 2021, they spent $290K for this Lord Nelson filly. She is a half to Kanthaka, who was a multiple graded stakes winner at seven furlongs. She debuted on the turf last week, which felt more like a public workout, especially with her coming back in eight days. She was never asked for her best that afternoon as she finished 7th, beaten about nine lengths. She moves to dirt, which I believe will be her preferred surface. Carlos Rojas, who rode well for Camejo last season, gets the call. She drilled 46:3 at Belmont last month, so she definitely has more speed than she showed last week. I think she’s flying under the radar and has a big chance against this group in her second career try. One Violent Affair (#7) gets back on the dirt after finishing 6th in a one mile turf race at this condition at Tampa in April. Prior to that race, she had a nice pattern of improvement on the dirt. All three runners that finished in front of her two starts back at this distance on dirt, came back to win in their next starts. There was definite quality in that race, as the winner Ms. Bucchero, appears destined for stakes company after crushing allowance foes at Parx and Delaware in her last two tries. Wildhawk, who was the third place finisher, came back to win a maiden special weight race at Aqueduct. The second place finisher, Immortallove, was an easy winner at that level at Tampa. One Violent Affair finished in front of Zip Code Envy, who had Irad Ortiz aboard that afternoon. That one broke her maiden at Presque Isle Downs earlier this week. She held her own against that group, but she couldn’t with Ms. Bucchero early, and faded to 4th, digging in though, to finish about five lengths behind the winner. 7-2 (ML) feels very fair on this one who is getting back to the dirt today. On deeper tickets, Romping (#4) is a filly that should improve in her second start. Her dam Chastise was better at two turns, and her first foal, Traverse, has done her best work routing on the dirt. She is sired by Runhappy, so there’s a chance that she could be comfortable at this distance. I’m thinking that she’s one to watch out for next time if she tries two turns, however, I do see her taking a step forward with this group.


Race 8: 

The Late Pick-4 is a $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for three year olds and up, going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. This is always a competitive condition here and this race is no different. Kitten Street (#8) and City Plan (#10) are two longshots that want the lead, and if Tetragrammaton (#11) draws in off the AE list, that would make three horses on the outside, that want to go to the front. Dream Liner (#4) was a winner on this course at this distance last year in the second leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Series. Tony Wilson may be gearing this one up for another crack at that series at the end of the month. He was the only horse that ran in all four legs last year, winning once, finishing third twice, and finishing 4th in the 11 furlong race in August. He was given a few months off after finishing 7th at Tampa last out in their starter handicap series race at nine furlongs. I think he’s going to be rolling late in this one. Cabinet Pik (#3) was claimed off Pompeyo Gomez last time out when he stayed in a race at this level in a sprint that was taken off the turf. He didn’t run much in that race, but that’s not his game. This horse ran several times at this condition, with several good results last year. He wasn’t claimed at all, so it was interesting to see Claudio Gonzalez make the move to claim him in his eight year old debut. I’d think he might be eyeing up the starter series race in a few weeks, but I think he’s running him here to make sure he still has what it takes. Paco Lopez gets the mount for the first time on him today. His regular rider, Richard Mitchell, is a low percentage jockey, but he knew how to ride this horse. I’m always a little cautious in situations like this, especially since he’s likely going to be favored when they go into the gate. I’m going to use him, but I’ll be looking for coverage. Burning Man (#12) is an interesting horse in this race if he draws in. His best work lately has been on the synthetics, but I do think he’s the kind of horse that appreciates a very firm turf course, which is what he’s going to get if he runs today. He isn’t the most consistent runner, but he’s capable of running huge races from time to time. Small Hope (#7) is a runner that often comes close, but he doesn’t win much. He has only five wins in 41 career starts, but he’s been second or third 17 times. He came up empty in the 11 furlong leg of the starter handicap series at Tampa last out and was given a few months off. He was right there several times last year with better fields. He was a winner the last time he ran in a straight claiming race, and his rider, Samy Camacho, is red hot right now. 


Race 9, The $85K Smart N Classy Handicap:

New Jersey bred fillies and mares take the spotlight today in this one mile race. With these state bred races, I’m always looking for horses that are doing what they do best. In this case, I think we’re going to a little value on Beach Daze (#8), who probably should be 8-5 or lower. She’s listed at 3-1 on the morning line, and she’s the second choice behind a very nice three year old filly, Girl Trouble (#10), who has Paco Lopez riding. Girl Trouble is 0-3 in her two turn races though and she draws the far outside post here. She’s 5-8 in one turn races, never finishing worse than second. Beach Daze was very good at Parx, finishing second several times in open company. She came here and caught a sloppy track in the Spruce Fir. Mia’s Crusade (#7) had the best speed in that race, and was able to set moderate fractions and get the jump on Beach Daze. While Mia’s Crusade ran well to be second in this race last year, I think this field is much deeper. While I don’t love that Beach Daze has been second in her last four starts, her last win came against state bred company here in August. I see her as a single in this sequence. I think both Riding Pretty (#2) and I Can Run (#3)are interesting horses to use underneath, and possibly worth using on some saver tickets in the multi-race wagers. Riding Pretty won her debut on the dirt and her only other dirt race was in the Sorority Stakes last year, where she lost all chance at the break. Her other five starts have been on the turf, winning in open company at Gulfstream in January, and finishing a game 5th at huge odds in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes in March. Her trainer, Eddie Owens, had a good day yesterday, having the first two finishers in a two year old maiden special weight race. She’s bred to be better on the turf, but she fits from a class perspective and she could be coming late as there are several speed horses that could be setting a strong early tempo. That scenario also benefits I Can Run, who was a closing winner of the Eleven North Stakes here at six furlongs last summer. She hates the slop, so I’ll draw a line through effort in the Spruce Fir last out, on a day where closers were struggling anyway. She’s probably best at one turn, but she’ll have pace to close into. She was very good in her two starts last year on a fast dirt track with state bred company. 


Race 10:

Conditioned $40K-$30K claimers are going 1 mile and 1/16 in the last turf race of the afternoon. Everyone entered in this race qualifies under the N2L condition. While there are some interesting three year olds in this race, I think the older horses have an edge at this point in the season. Hashtag No Wonder (#3) returns to the scene of his only career victory, breaking his maiden despite a troubled trip at the end of July. He was wide and left with too much to do when he came back here in allowance company at the end of the meet. He was competitive against similar at Gulfstream and now ships north for Carlos David. He has a few races that muddy up his form, like his synthetic try two back and his effort at 11 furlongs in March, but I think he’s dangerous here. Hoku (#7) is lightly raced, but has been very tough on the turf. He was claimed for $30K at Keeneland on the dirt in April and was put back on the turf at Parx last month. He settled near the back of the pack behind an aggressive pace. Mychal Sanchez may have moved a bit early with him and he made the lead, but was nailed on the wire. His two bad races on turf were at 12 furlongs one time and against a very sharp N1X field at Gulfstream the other. This level should be right in his wheelhouse and he figures to be tough here. Two three year olds that are interesting have been battling each other at Tampa in their last two starts. Crafty King (#5) may have a price advantage on Summer Bee (#4). Crafty King was the better horse two back, and Summer Bee was a length better last time out. Crafty King paired his Beyer Figures and could be sitting on a bigger race today. I’m not sure if it’s a race good enough to beat the top two, but I think he’s showing a pattern where we’ll see a better effort from him today. Summer Bee hasn’t been as consistent, and will likely be the shorter price of the two. There’s not a wealth of speed in this race, so I will back up with him on deeper plays, because he could be the one sitting the right trip. However, I prefer the value of his rival. 


Race 11:

The week will wrap up with an optional $12,500 claiming/$6,250 starter allowance for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. The two favorites in this race are major question marks at two turns. While both Jamminji (#5) and Gypsy Jamie (#6) could win this race, both have done their heavy lifting at one turn. Gypsy Jamie is an eight year old with 48 career starts, all of them coming at one turn. I think Expect to Be Ready (#2) is a threat to steal this race on the front. She has better early foot than the favorites and should be able to save ground from her inside post. She was a winner with similar company last year at Delaware and she’s a winner on this track and distance. I think she could move forward going back to two turns with this group, in a race where I think the two shorter prices could be struggling in the final furlong or so. Whyisshesoolucky (#1) is a bounce candidate after running a monster effort at Parx last month. She has two straight wins and has two wins in seven tries at this distance. She was also a winner in her one local start. If the stretch out sprinters soften the top pick up front, she’d still be the one I’d expect to be running on late. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 23/87 (26.4%) – $150.20/ $1.73 ROI

Isaac Castillo, who has ridden very well here in years past, rode here for the first time in 2023, and he made an immediate impression, winning three races on the card, including an upset win with Boppy O in the Jersey Derby. The heavy favorite, Talk of the Nation, could do no better than second and he was very aggressive in the early stages, while stuck behind runners. Castillo was patient near the back of the pack, and unleashed a late rally to get up in the final 70 yards. 

Samy Camacho also had three wins on the afternoon as he is trying to keep Paco Lopez from opening a massive lead in the rider standings. One of his three wins came in the first two year old race of the year, winning with the Omaha Beach filly, Omaha Girl.  She didn’t win by much, but she passed the first test in her young career. Even though the Beyer Speed Figure is likely to come back on the light side, she was purchased for $400K, so I’d think a race like the Schuylerville next month at Saratoga would likely be on her radar. 

Eddie Owens sent out a pair of two year old New Jersey breds, both sired by Sea Wizard. They were significantly better than the rest of the field with Ship to Shore winning and Dont Rock the Boat finishing a close up second. Owens sent Great Navigator to Saratoga last year for the Sanford and I’d have to think that is going to be the intention with Ship to Shore. 

One horse that I’m going to be tabbing for their next start is Catch the Smoke, who was third in 10th race yesterday, which was an optional claiming/N1X allowance race. He was making his second start, and he looked like he was full of run when turning for home. However, he was in very tight, and lost some momentum as he was speeding home. I think he’s one that could move forward again next time out.


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