Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 7/10/22 – By Eric Solomon

The week wraps up with a nine race card at Monmouth Park. The featured race is the nightcap, which is the Irish War Cry Handicap for New Jersey breds, three years old and upward, going one mile on the turf course. The second leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Series is also on the program today, being run as Race 7. Eleven horses are entered in what is an absolutely wide open betting race. The racing action begins at 12:15 (ET) on what should be a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at the Jersey Shore. 

 

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

 

 

 

Race 1:

The day begins with a maiden special weight race for NewJersey breds going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course. It doesn’t feel very creative, but Cassation (#2) looks like he’s going to be very tough in this race. He ran a credible race at this distance last year as a two year old at the Meadowlands, when trying the grass for the first time. He has come back to run two solid races this year, one at two turns on the dirt and the other in a turf sprint. He looked very comfortable on the grass last time, rallying from off the pace to finish a close second. I don’t have any worries about the added distance for this son of Peace and Justice. Hello Pop (#7) makes his third career start today for Rory Huston. He debuted in the same race that Cassation finished second in, running an even 5th that day. He ran back on July 1st at this level on the main track where he finished second after breaking a step slow, and rushing up into a duel. He’s sired by Freud, and while I tend to prefer his runners in one turn races on the grass, the 1 mile and 1/16 distance should be within his realm of capabilities, especially with Belong to Me as the dam sire. 

 

Race 2:

Fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race. Sassy Like Julia (#1) on the rail is the only multiple winner in the field, as the other five qualified under the N2L condition. This could be a chalky daily double with Mountain Lilly (#4) looking very tough in this race while shipping from Parx. She’s dropping in class after facing tougher fields in her two starts since breaking her maiden back in April. She’s a speedy type, and unless La Luisa (#5) is keyed up while coming back off the layoff,  I don’t think she’ll have much competition for the early lead. Leading rider, Paco Lopez, takes the mount for Robert Mosco. All signs are pointing in her direction here. If she does face pace pressure here, that could open the door for Ballet School (#2) to run her down late. She has not looked good in her four year old season, running three poor races earlier this year at Tampa. As a result, Robert O’Connor drops this Orb filly in for a tag for the first time in her career. Her dirt form was better last season, so perhaps the three month break, change in scenery, and class relief will be a recipe for success. 

 

Race 3:

Six three year old fillies sprint 5 and ½ furlongs in this $30K-$25K maiden claiming race (which was written for three year olds and up). This field consists of three second time starters coming off poor debut efforts, two of which were on the turf, a first time starter, a professional maiden, and a Parx shipper who is dropping in class. Just Add Moonlight (#3) is the Parx invader and I see shipping here as a logical move for Kathleen DeMasi. She’s made the lead in all four races in Philly this year, only to fade late. Parx can be a tiring track though, and when you look at the final times for three of those races, she was definitely running over a course that was yielding slower times. I don’t think anyone can go with her early, and I think her speed is much more likely to hold up on a course like this. If anyone is likely to run her down, it’s the Kelly Breen first time starter, Be Like Beth (#2). Her works are okay, and Paco Lopez sees fit to ride. While Breen hits with 18% of his first time starters, he’s 0-13 when debuting them in maiden claiming races, including a loss with Paco riding a Breen two year. Regardless, if this filly has some ability, I trust that he will be able to get it out of her. 

 

Race 4:

This is a salty optional $25K claiming/N2X allowance race for three year olds and up sprinting six furlongs. Unlike the first few races where there doesn’t appear to be much early speed signed on, this race has no shortage of that. As a result, Brewmeister (#2) makes a lot of sense as an off the pace threat for Lisa Lewis and Samy Camacho. I’ll proceed with some caution as he hasn’t found the Winner’s Circle in almost two years. However, he’s clearly had some physical ailments that have kept him on the bench. He didn’t look like himself in his three races last year, however, two of his three starts this year were considerably better. He was closing well late against a better field in the slop at Gulfstream last month. He’s run strong races when closing into solid paces. His two career scores both came when the opening half mile was run in sub 45 seconds, and I see that scenario shaping up here. Stratofortress (#3) has run some very good races here and at Oaklawn this year. He’s been first or a close second in his last three starts. He couldn’t get to a nice colt, Spun and Won, at this level last month. He has a ton of natural early speed, but his best races are when he can rate off the early pace and make his move on the turn. R Rajun Bull (#4) ended 2021 with three straight wins with three big efforts. He was a winner at this level at Penn National, stopping the clock in 1:08:4 in November. He was a winner on this course in 2021 and DeMasi has good numbers with horses off the layoff. This is a tough spit to make his seasonal debut, but if can carry the momentum from last year, he’ll be tough with these today.

 

Race 5:

The Win-Early Pick-5 sequence wraps up with a $12,500-$10,500 claiming race going 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. I think Trilogy (#1) has a big shot in this race. He won at this condition and distance on this course in 2021, and I think 5 and ½ furlongs is the ideal distance for him. He was flat at this level when making his first start in four months at the beginning of June. He had less than an ideal trip though, going wide on both turns. He ran at Penn National at the end of the month, closing late to get into 5th when going five furlongs. He was closing well though, despite breaking a bit tardy. Apprentice Andy Hernandez continues to ride well locally in limited opportunities, and I’m expecting him to get this gelding home. Gran Malbec (#9) looks like a horse that has been dying to get back on the grass. He’s been on a steady diet of synthetic races at Gulfstream. Marcial Navarro ships him north to give him that chance, since Gulfstream really is carding many races at this level on their turf course since adding the Tapeta track. All seven of his career wins have been sprinting on the lawn, whereas he’s 0-11 on the Tapeta there. Angel Rodriguez getting the mount certainly won’t hurt his chances. Baby Boomer (#2) is dropping in class after struggling against two significantly better fields in his first two local races this season. He had some bigger efforts against better fields on the grass back in 2021, but we really haven’t seen that from him this year. This will be the softest field he’s faced in his career though. On deeper tickets, don’t discount Diesel (#8) wheeling back in six days for Alan Bedard. He tried the grass for the first time last week at Parx and faded late at five furlongs to finish 4th. Bedard has done well with quick turnarounds and there isn’t a ton of early speed in this race. 

 

WIN-EARLY PICK-5 – $36 Ticket:

This sequence has the potential to be chalky. I think there are three short prices with Cassation (#2, R1), Mountain Lilly (#4, R2), and Just Add Moonlight (#3, R3), that all look very tough in their respective heats. I’ll use another horse in each race because I’m not sold that any of the three are iron-clad singles. I do like Trilogy (#1, R5) quite a bit in the last leg of the sequence though. I’m not sold on the two morning line favorites in that race, neither of which will be on my ticket. 

Race 6:

It’s tough to make a case for any of the horses outside of Carvellian Quest (#1) or Commandperformance (#4) in this maiden special weight race that will kick off the Late Pick-4. I think the odds are going to be slightly better on Carvellian Quest, who is coming off a monster performance here last month at this level when he was narrowly defeated by another Todd Pletcher horse, Be Better. Be Better went on to romp when facing a very good N1X field last week on this oval. Carvellian Quest had a comfortable early lead and proved to be very tough to pass late. Once again, there’s not much speed for him to contend with the rail draw instead of the outside post today, Ferrer should have no issues getting him to the front. I do think he can back up his vastly improved effort since his first two races came in the slop and his last race was his first try on a fast track. Commandperformance debuted at the end of the meet at Saratoga, running a strong second that day. That effort was good enough to put him in the starting gate for the Champagne Stakes at Belmont, where he finished second. He was 4th behind Corniche in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, all while still a maiden. He has not been nearly as effective as a three year old though. Fenwick was the lone speed and beat him handily in his seasonal debut at Tampa at this level. He jumped back into Grade 1 stakes company when he tried the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland where he was never involved. Pletcher cut him back to a one turn maiden special weight at Belmont, but he was no match for Artorius or his stablemate, Gasoline. With Saratoga on the horizon at NYRA, and the maiden special weight races there being as tough as they are, I’m not surprised to see Pletcher switched circuits with him in order to try to get that first win. He towers over the other four, but I think Carvellian Quest will make him work hard, and I’m not sure how much fight this guy has. 

 

Race 7:

This is the second leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Series on the turf, going 1 mile and 1/16. The first leg was rained off the grass, but five of the seven runners that competed on dirt came back for this race. That could be in part because to be eligible for the trainer bonuses in this series, a horse has to start in three of the four legs. This is by far the best betting race on the card and probably one of, if not, the best betting race so far this month here. I could build in case for the majority of the field, so it’s likely going to come down to trip and value for me. I ended up on El Pillo (#1) on top, who is looking to get back to his winter form he showed at Tampa. He was running very well there with $16K claimers, and then he stepped up to run in a similar race there in February, where he pulled off the 11-1 upset in a nine furlong race. He tried the 11 furlong race which ended the series at Tampa, where he wilted to the back of the field. He returned here after 2 and ½ months off and caught a sloppy track in the first leg of this series. He hit the gate at the break and ended up a wide 4th. He’s much better on the grass, and the rail and distance suit him well. Hard Knocking (#2) is an interesting longshot in this race. He shipped in from Kentucky and dropped to a conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race where he dominated as the heavy favorite. Tony Wilson, who also sends out Dream Liner (#3), saw an opportunity to claim him specifically as a horse that could be useful in this series. He clearly liked the turf course and he is eligible to improve in his second race of the season. I think his last could be a big confidence boost for him, and I’d be willing to take a shot with him at or around his 15-1 morning line figure. Lavery (#7) won the first leg of the series in the slop, getting a good stalking trip. Daniel Centeno comes in to ride for Guadalupe Preciado. Centeno also rode Dream Liner consistently at Tampa, but he winds up here. He lacks the turf experience of some of the others here, but his few tries on the lawn suggest that it could be his preferred surface. Dazzling Truths (#8) is the morning line favorite, and certainly has a good chance here while getting back on the grass. He didn’t care for the slop last out, but was very competitive in these races at Tampa. Andy Hernandez is an apprentice that is riding very well, but this will definitely be a jockeys race, so he’s going to have to outride some very crafty veterans to get the job done. His wider draw doesn’t make his task any easier. Dream Liner is another live runner, but I do worry that he could wind up being too far off the pace. Horses that were coming from far back struggled over this course earlier this week. The same could be said for Shedam (#5) who is a longer priced runner coming back from three failed attempts in hurdle races. His flat form from 2021 fits well with these if he’s the same horse. The best hope for these runners is if the stretch out sprinter, JP Hellish (#11) is sent hard from his wide draw, and forces a duel with Pirate Parade (#6). That scenario could set things up for some of the deeper closers. 

 

Race 8:

A pair of New Jersey bred races wrap up the week. This one is an optional $30K claiming/conditioned allowance which drew some talented runners that will sprint six furlongs. The headline in this race is ten year old gelding, Brother Chub (#2) taking on a pair of upstart three year olds, Last Romance (#1) and Speaking (#6). I prefer the three year olds and I like Last Romance to get the job done. He beat three other rivals to clear the open N1X allowance level. While the field was short, the horse he beat, Grooms All Bizness, is a very nice race horse. He easily disposed of his rivals in a state bred N1X allowance race two starts back. He was stakes placed as a two year old in open company, so the talent has always been there with this improving three year old son Tapiture. Speaking beat open company as a two year old in stakes company on this track at this distance. He went off form with tougher at Aqueduct, but has returned to run two solid races this year. He faced older horses for the first time off the layoff in the John J. Reilly Stakes in May. He tried two turns for the first time and was caught by an older runner, Our Man Luke, in the final strides. He cuts back to a sprint today, instead of trying the turf in the next race, which I thought could have been a possibility, seeing as how he’s sired by 2014 Belmont Derby winner, Mr. Speaker. I think he’s a player in this spot, as a proven commodity on this surface and distance. Brother Chub has won 18 times in his career that has spanned 63 starts. He beat a solid field in optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance last month. The third place finisher that day, Lib’s Contento, came back to win at that level in his subsequent try. He seems to have found another gear after looking like he was in steady decline. I think the other two have more upside, but I can’t completely toss this crafty veteran. 

 

Race 9: The $100K Irish War Cry Handicap

These New Jersey bred stakes races are always competitive and this one mile turf contest is no exception. The rails were at 36 feet Friday and 24 feet yesterday. On both days, horses that were rallying late, seemed to struggle to make up ground in the outer lanes. The rails are moved back to 12 feet today which could be an equalizer. However, I’m going to use the one-two finishers of the state bred N1X allowance race in here on the A line. I’m making Leo Monte (#2), the winner of that race, my top pick, thinking that this son of Hey Chub can get a similar trip in this race. He sat off the early speed of There Are No Words (#3) last out, while that one did the heavy lifting up front. He collared him at the top of the stretch and drew off to win by just shy of two lengths. He’s shown an affinity for turf in the past and I think he could move forward once again in his third start off the layoff. There Are No Words hasn’t progressed as much as I would have hoped he would have from two to three, however, there are still more races to be run. He is a dedicated frontrunner that wants to play catch me if you can. He was caught in the Jersey Derby against open company two starts back and Leo Monte had his number in his most recent try. If closers continue to appear to be struggling over this course in the earlier races, he stands a bigger chance to score here. Golden Brown (#6) is a hard trying seven year old gelding that always shows up in these Jersey bred races, regardless of surface or distance. At three years old, he won the Grade 3 Kent Stakes on the turf at Delaware, so we know he can handle this trip. He consistently runs solid races on this course, winning three times and finishing second once in five career local tries. He’s finished 6th three times to start his 2022 campaign, but two of those races came against strong fields in open company. He’spuregold (#9) is the favorite and the reigning champion of this race, narrowly defeating Golden Brown last July. He was good enough to be 4th last year in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga. He handled his business nicely in open company to start off his 2022 campaign. He is the class of the field, however, his running style may keep him just short with this group today.

 

Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners: 65/238 (27.3%) – $522.90/ $2.20 ROI 

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