The ten race Saturday card is headlined by the Blue Sparkler Stakes, for three year old fillies. Three horses that were cross-entered at Saratoga yesterday were all scratched when that race was taken off the grass. Turf racing is light today with only two races carded for the lawn. The rails are at 24 feet and with two graded turf stakes on the Haskell undercard next Saturday, I’m sure there is an effort to try to protect this course this week. First post for the Saturday program 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||6||2,6,7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||6||6||1,3,7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||7||2,7||5||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||5||5||3||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||5||5||7||1||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Conditioned $5K claimers start off the afternoon, sprinting six furlongs on the main track. Form is all over the place in this race, so this is definitely a tricky way to kick off the card. Cajun Mandate (#6) reunites with Juan Avila and ships back to New Jersey after two Florida races. He came up empty with better horses on the synthetic last month at Gulfstream. He has a few solid efforts on this oval last season and could be faster from the gate than the other seven runners in this race. Luckytobeinamerica (#7) makes his third start off the layoff today. I’m not sure how much this seven year old gelding has left in the tank, but he was dead game when getting back on a mile oval track at Delaware. If this front end speed falls apart in this race, he’s the most likely candidate to pick up the pieces. Ziggy Mon (#2) is the morning line favorite and is back in the care of Claudio Gonzalez. He seems to have definitely lost a step , however, he was third in a three horse photo at this level in his last start. I think he can run back to his last race, if not slightly improve upon.
Two year olds will dash five furlongs in this $25K-$20K maiden claiming event. Pack Plays (#6) attracted Paco Lopez for his debut and he’ll be the top pick in this one. He’s sired by Stay Thirsty, who has 11% winners with first time starters on dirt. He runs for Carlos David, who has great numbers with first time starters, striking with 19% of his two year old debut runners over the last five years. He certainly checks a lot of boxes in this race. The Funk Phenomena (#1) and Outcat (#3) both debuted two weeks ago in maiden special weight company against a few good runners. Apprentice Melissa Iorio lost her irons early on in the race aboard The Funk Phenomena, who didn’t break terribly that day. She pulled him up out of trouble before trying to navigate the turn. He drops in class and gets journeyman rider Richard Mitchell to ride today. I don’t love the rail, but if he’s sitting there around his 20-1 morning line figure, I do see him as a horse that has a chance at this level. Outcat had a much rougher break, getting bumped around and then having to tap on the breaks in the first 50 yards. He rushed up to get within about four lengths of leaders before backing out. He did not corner very well that day, so he’s another runner that may benefit from a rider switch. I think he’ll go off at odds longer than his 5-1 morning line figure, and I see him as a runner that is eligible to improve. Miracle Trip (#7) is another first time starter coming from a barn that has done very well with their debut runners over the last several years. Jose D’Angelo has won with 21% of his debuting two year olds. His sire, Sky Kingdom has won with 14% of his debut runners in maiden claiming races (4-29) and 45% of those runners have finished in the money.
Gypsy Janie (#7) looks for her third straight win and I think she has a significant pace advantage over the morning line favorite in this $5K starter allowance race for fillies and mares. She dominated a field last out, winning by over 13 lengths at a similar level where there wasn’t a ton of pace signed out. Her Beyer Speed Figure came back a bit light, but she was in hand at the end of the race, telling me that she could have won by a considerably larger margin. She has 15 wins in 49 career starts and 5 wins in her last 8 starts. I think she’ll get another favorable trip and beat this field today. Rose E Holiday (#5) is the morning line favorite in this race, but I do think she’s a better animal at one turn races. If someone can offer up serious pressure to the favorite early on, that might be her best shot at winning.
The second two year old race in the Win-Early Pick-5 is an open maiden special weight contest for two year old fillies. I wrote about Carlos David in the second race, and the success that he’s had with two year olds. If his runner wins that race, I think the 6-1 odds on She’s A Laker (#4) will come down. However, she’s going to be a pass for me. She’s a New York bred and David has brought a string of horses to Saratoga, including a pair of debut runners that are running in $88K maiden special weight races there for Mr. Amore Stable. The fact that this one did not make the cut tells me that she’s a cut below the best in his barn. She certainly could win, but I’ll be looking elsewhere. Claudio Gonzalez sends out a pair of runners, and I’m intrigued by his first time starter, Princess Indy (#8). She’s a full brother to the talented and speedy three year old sprinter, Super Chow. That one has six wins in ten starts, including several stakes wins. He was a winner on debut at this distance last summer at Gulfstream. I like that Gonzalez worked her five furlongs in her most recent start. Carlos Rojas has won 27% of the races that he’s ridden for Gonzalez at Monmouth since the start of the 2022 meet. He also sends out I’m A Cutie Pie (#7) who hit the front on a wet track in her debut, but was caught late. She’s worked twice since that race, including a five furlong drill in company with her stablemate. Jomar Torres will take over for the injured Samy Camacho. She’s bred to be fast and she’s bred to win early. There’s another sibling to a talented horse in this race, and that’s Marina Village (#1) for Kelly Breen and Paco Lopez. Her half sister is Simply Ravishing, who was the winner of the 202 Grade 2 Darley Alcibiades. It is worth noting, that filly was better at two turns, so I’m not sure that five furlongs is going to be what this filly does best.She is sired by Speightster, so there is more speed influence in the pedigree. I don’t love the rail and how I use this filly is likely going to come down to price, but I think she’s live with this group. Gold Alliance (#9) was on the muscle in her debut when facing a group of ten fillies on the turf. She’s sired by two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, Goldencents, so I see her running better on the main track. Lane Luzzi will be tasked with trying to ration her speed. At 8-1 (ML), I do see her as good value in this race.
State bred fillies and mares will dash six furlongs in this state bred optional $15K claiming/N1R allowance race. Several of these runners are coming out of a five furlong, off the turf race here last month. That race came back slow in terms of Beyer Speed Figures, which may tilt the odds in favor of some horses that are not coming out of that race. The Equibase Speed Figures are more in line with the races that these horses have been running, so I’m going to just focus on form. Bel Pensiero (#7) narrowly lost that day when she was making her first start since January for Anthony Margotta. She improved significantly in her second career last year, so there’s reason to believe that she is going to move forward and be a threat with this group. Oddsondustymiller (#2) is coming off two subpar races, however she’s not a horse that wants to go one mile, which she was asked to do in the Smart N Classy Handicap two starts ago, I think the five furlong distance was too short for her last time where she never really fired. She was claimed by Dan Ward from that race and she ran well to be third in the Spruce Fir Handicap at the beginning of the meet. I think this seven year old mare can still fire big races, and I see her being a good fit with this group. I’m not sure how high the ceiling is for Sea Maiden (#5), but she’ll be a saver for me in this race, getting back on the dirt after a failed experiment on the turf last out. Isaac Castillo will ride for the first time and Rory Huston is adding blinkers today. These Sea Wizard horses continue to run well at Monmouth. However, taking 4-1 on a horse at this level that hasn’t hit the board since her debut win is less than ideal value for me. If those odds float up, I’ll be more interested.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $48 Ticket:
This ticket will run through Gypsy Janie (#7, R3). She’s a 15 time winner who is on a roll. She finds a field where she once again should have a significant pace advantage. I want coverage in both of the two year old races, as those races have been unpredictable all meet long. I feel like we can escape the first and the last leg with a few horses, hopefully catching a bit of a price in both to make this All A/B ticket pop.
These are the kinds of races where Chad Brown has been winning at this meet, whereas in year’s past, he might not have. He sends out Tower Bridge (#5) with apprentice Madison Oliver in this maiden special weight route on the dirt at 1 kile and 70 yards. She has done well since getting some opportunities for this barn since Camacho has been injured. She guided Payout Ratio to a dominating score in maiden claiming company last week. This filly was green in her debut at Belmont when going seven furlongs. That’s never an easy distance to debut at, so I like her stretching out to two turns for the first time. I also like that despite the circuit switch, she remains protected. Perhaps her owner/breeder John Gunther sees her as a good broodmare prospect. However, all of her siblings to race were winners. My backup plan is another New York invade with Vita de Vito (#3) shipping in for Danny Gargan. She struggled against a significantly better field when going a one turn mile in her last start at Belmont. Like the top pick, she doesn’t feel like Saratoga material, so the ship here is logical. The dam never won a race and has one horse with one win with two other starters. Despite the poor record, her runners have faced top notch competition and have held their own.
There are some definite warts that you’ll have to look past in this $16K-$14K N2L claiming race for fillies and mares, which is also the first turf contest of the afternoon. I landed on Bletchley Girl (#5), who, at 3-1, is probably listed at lower odds than I’d like, but I see her having the most upside. She’s finished well in her last two races, but she’s also dropped way too far in those races, leaving herself with too much work to do. It’s hard to tell if that’s who she is or if she was hampered by an apprentice rider who doesn’t yet know how to navigate a horse like this. I see Isaac Castillo as an upgrade, and when comparing the field from her last to the field from this race, she is clearly getting class relief. She’s been sharp from the gate and might need a few reminders from Castillo to keep pace after jockeying for position, but I see her as the one to beat. As much as I’d like to make a case for a longshot, there’s a lot not to like about several of these runners. Lost Luggage (#7) gets a rider upgrade to Paco Lopez, who should be thinking about trying to keep her closer to the early pace. Like the top pick, she’s left herself too much work to do in her last few starts. She’s 2-1 on the morning line because of Lopez and her effort at Belmont three back. She’ll need to move forward off her 5th place finish at this level, but I do think that’s feasible. Theuncapturedlady (#1) is 1-31 in her career, so she’s tough for me to get excited about taking 7-2 on her. However, She has finished in the money in three of her last four starts and her last three starts on this course. She’ll be forwardly placed with a race where there isn’t much pace signed on. She should get the jump on the top two, but she hasn’t proven that she’s able to figure out how to finish off these races.
There are some deep droppers in this conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming race which starts the final Pick-3 of the afternoon. The Bearrish One (#6) was claimed off Mike Dini by last year’s leading trainer, Claudio Gonzalez. After a slow start at this meet, this barn has picked things up, in part because of how sharp they are in the claiming game. He was no match for Rerally at this level last out, and he has never crossed the finish line first in a race. However, his effort to break his maiden three back was sharp, and he deserved to be put up as the winner. We’ll see how aggressive apprentice rider Luis Rivera wants to be in the early stages. There are three horses inside of him that could possibly go in the early stages, so this will be a good test to see how the young rider navigates a scenario like this. Father Glado (#4) makes his local debut while plummeting in class. He was last seen finishing 8th in a field of 9 with $30K N2L claimers on the grass at Belmont. Jose D’Angelo drops him to this level and brings him black on the main track. His lone start on dirt was solid, suggesting that he has ability on any surface. Going In Style (#5) was dull in his three races when running for Juan Bernardini. He shifts circuits and now runs for a higher percentage outfit. His 2022 would be competitive at this level, if he can get back to that level. Sailor’s Return (#3) is the 9-5 morning line favorite. While he’s worth covering, he’s tough for me to get excited about at those odds or potentially lower. His speed figures are solid, but it wasn’t like he was right there with the winner on the wire when facing better. He was claimed for $30K at Keeneland in the spring, and he’s now running for a tag that’s 4X less than that. I’ll cover with him, but at short odds, I’ll try to beat him.
Race 9, The $100K Blue Sparkler Stakes:
Three year old fillies sprint 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf in the feature today. For what it’s worth, Love Appeals (#1), Bosserati (#3), and My Sweet Affair (#8) were all cross-entered in the Coronation Cup yesterday, and all three scratched out of that race when the race was taken off the turf. The decision to take that race off the turf came early on in the day, so it’s feasible that all three runners could run here. They are the three shortest priced runners on the morning line, so the complexion of the race changes dramatically if they run or not. Love Appeals (#1) is the one to beat for me. I thought her win to clear the N1X condition was very sharp last out at Aqueduct. She missed the entire Belmont meet, scratching out of the Soaring Softly Stakes in May, which was won by her stablemate. I think there is an abundance of speed signed on for this race, assuming everyone participates. Plentitude (#9) is her undefeated stablemate, coming off a score at Belmont in N1X company last month, when traveling six furlongs. She won her debut on the dirt two starts ago, and Clement appeared to have this race in mind for her, as he has Jorge Vargas named to ride here. (There is currently no rider assigned to Love Appeals). Post nine is no picnic in these 5 and ½ furlong races out of the chute at Monmouth, so she may be a little farther off the pace than usual. Eric Cancel appears committed to be at Monmouth to ride My Sweet Affair (#8) for George Weaver since he’s not named on any mounts at the Spa. This closing filly has been knocking on the door in stakes company in her last three starts after winning on debut at Gulfstream back in March. She had trouble at the break at Laurel last out and was forced to swing wide, which likely cost her the victory over Bosserati that day. I see there being more speed for that filly to contend with in this race, which should give the edge to this group.
$12,500-$10,500 maiden claimers close out the afternoon in this dirt route. I don’t trust the morning line favorite, Cacio E Pepe (#7), who makes his career debut. I’m also not really interested in the second choice, Mad Magic (#1). He’s a professional maiden that fits on figures, but hasn’t really come close to winning a race. Vegas Playboy (#3) is interesting to me, stretching back out to two turns after running his last two races in 5 and ½ furlong sprints. He faced Excess Demand in his only route on the dirt, and that Chad Brown runner ran off the screen in that $10K maiden claimer. I think he’s better suited for longer races and should improve stretching back out today against a softer bunch. Dad’s On a Roll (#5) finished in front of Vegas Playboy in May in that same race. His next two starts were sharp, but he did regress a bit last time out. He’s proven to be better on the main track, so I could see him rebounding in this spot. Moment At Sea (#4) is a 20-1 outsider that might not be the craziest play in this race. His first two career races on synthetic were awful, but he did show some improvement when routing on the dirt with $10K maiden claimers at Penn National. His dam was a winner on this course and horses sired by Sea Wizard have run well on this oval. He’ll need to be much better to win, but I do see him as a horse that is eligible to improve.
Top Pick Winners: 52/236 (22.0%) – $354.00/$1.50 ROI
There were two notable performances on the card yesterday, which was definitely on the chalkier side. Yesternight obliterated her six rivals, looking much the best when clearing the N1X allowance condition in Race 4. She proved that her trouble was real last out, when she missed the break and locked herself in a speed duel before fading to third. She took home an easy 8 and ½ length in her third career start. It’ll be interesting to see if Lindsay Schultz opts to try her in stakes company with fellow three year old fillies after this race or if she tries to beat old fillies and mares in N2X allowance company.
The featured 6th race was dominated by Benevengo, who is very likely to be stakes bound once again after his brilliant performance. He stopped the clock in a strong 1:09:38 for the six furlongs, winning for the 5th time in 8 career starts. I don’t think this is the best distance for him, however, he embarrassed his rivals in that race yesterday. A race like the Philip Iselin next month could very well be on his radar.