It was a rainy night in Oceanport , New Jersey. and there is more heavy rain in the forecast. Racing has been taken OFF THE TURF today, so the four races that were carded for the grass (Races 3, 5,7,and 9) have been adjusted to be handicapped for the main track. The featured 9th race, the My Frenchman Stakes, will now be run at 5 and ½ furlongs on the main track. First post for the Sunday 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||5||3,5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||4||4,6||1||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||9||9,11||2||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||3||3||2,8||6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||9||8,9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Conditioned $5K filly and mare claimers start off the afternoon, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the main track. Six are entered in this race. I’ll take a little shot against the morning line favorite and use the veteran Take Charge Erica (#5) as my top pick. She was claimed by Wayne Potts last month and his numbers with runners first off the claim are strong, hitting at 30% dating back to the start of 2022. This mare is a ten time winner, and while she’s not the most consistent runner, she’s won 25% of her career races (10-40).She was recently competitive at Parx when facing better horses, while being conditioned by a lower percentage trainer. Queen Cadence (#3) is the even money favorite on the morning line. She’s one of three that qualify under the N4L condition for this race, and the main selling point for her is that she has won two straight races, while working through her conditions. She’s conditioned by leading trainer, Claudio Gonzalez, and ridden by Maddie Rowland. Rowland has ridden well for Gonzalez in limited opportunities, winning with this filly in the slop last month. She’s in the best recent form, so it’s hard to exclude her from any wager in this spot.
This is a similar conditioned $5K claiming race to the opener, only this one is open to the boys, and they’ll be covering 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. I’m going to try to beat the morning line favorite, Lord Mio (#3), who is coming off a win with conditioned $5K claimers last month. While I respect his versatility, this is a bit of a hidden rise in class, as the horses that qualify for the field he beat were non-winners of one race in six months or non-winners of three races lifetime. He faces non-winners of two races in six months or non-winners of four races today. While it appears he’s running in the same kind of race he did last month, this is a more contentious field. He does seem to fit in with this group, but I think there’s definitely value trying to beat him. Cantakeitanymore (#4) is an eight year old gelding shipping in from Charles Town. He’s struggled in his last three races there in starter allowance company, but his last two starts in for a tag were victories. Christopher Keller gave him a brief rest and now ships him away from the bullring. I think he’ll appreciate the drop in class, as he couldn’t compete with the familiar faces at that level in West Virginia. Look for him to get rolling late in this one. Loverboy Lou (#6) also ships in from Charles Town for Norman Cash, while dropping in class. He narrowly missed with first level allowance runners last month going two turns there in a 6 and ½ furlong sprint. His races on more traditional mile ovals were sharper, so the ship makes sense to me. I am a little wary of the deep drop in class, but he’s racing for $23K here as opposed to $31K in West Virginia. I think the drop in class feels more drastic than it actually is. The Method (#1) defected from an open $5K claiming race on Friday in favor of this spot. While this field is slightly softer than that one, this race is no walk in the park. He’s reasonably consistent, hitting the board in five of his last six starts, winning once in that span. He was second at this level in his most recent try.
A field of seven New Jersey bred fillies and mares will go one mile in this optional $15K/N1X allowance race. I’m not sure how many will be remaining with this race being taken off the turf, however, the dirt form for most in this race is poor. Midnight Heiress (#7), who was favored in this race on the turf, should be able to win this race with ease. A sloppy track could be a bit of a wild card, but this filly is just better than the majority of this field on the main track. Postino’s Prophecy (#1) is coming off a maiden breaking score on the turf last out. She was 4th in her debut on the dirt in 2021 and she was 6th in the slop, when making her first start off a lengthy layoff in 2022. She’s better suited for two turns, a trip that she’s never tried on the main track. Her Tomlinson Figure is terrible, so there’s reason to believe that this four year old filly could be the biggest threat to what should be a heavy favorite. Beatubyachubinose (#8) is a nine year old mare that ran in a similar spot last week. She was third, beaten almost five lengths in a slow race. She is worth upgrading in the slop, however, I don’t love the quick turnaround for a horse at this age. She’s a backup for me in this spot.
I was a bit perplexed with how to handle this race. I’m going to side against the first time starter, Cacio E Pepe (#3) who scratched out of a two turn race at this $12,500-$10,500 maiden claiming condition yesterday, in favor of the sprint here. While I like him sprinting more than I do at two turns, I’m not sure how much ability he is going to have. He has two half-siblings that have made it to the track, one of which debuted in maiden claiming company and showed absolutely nothing in her three career tries. The other one was better, but he debuted in a maiden allowance, so the fact that this one is debuting for such a low tag, while also coming in off a very slow posted work is enough to keep me away. Exaggerateddefence (#2) is the morning line favorite, and he gets Paco Lopez to ride. However, his dirt races outside of Charles Town haven’t been anything that would inspire confidence in me playing him at short odds, even if this is a massive drop in class. I’ll back up with him on the B line, but I think the price is going to be way too short for me. Royal Mover (#6) hasn’t been fast enough to beat this group in five of his six career starts. His highest Beyer figure came in a race where he was second, beaten 14+ lengths, which is never a great sign to me. I don’t think Little Banker Man (#4) or Big Popper (#5) are fast enough, so that leaves me with Barfly (#1) and Wasabi Boy (#7) as the default A line choices. Wasabi Boy gets the slight nod as the top pick, with hopes that gelding him since his last start will cure what has been ailing him in his last few attempts. There’s no escaping that those last three starts were bad, losing by a combined total of nearly 55 lengths. He drops in class again, and his trainer, Robert Falcone, removes the blinkers as well. All of this tells me that this horse was simply too aggressive for his own good, so perhaps the changes are enough to put him over the top at this level. His Tomlinson figure is higher than the others, so he might be a horse that could relish an off track today. Barfly has stayed around the same speed in all five of his career starts. His Equibase Speed Figure suggests that his last race was better than his Beyer Speed Figure might lead on though. Visually, that race with $10K maiden claimers was a strong effort. This is a stronger field, so he’s going to have to take another step forward to win at this level. However, he’s one that seems to have a higher floor than most others in this race.
When this state bred optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance race was on the turf, I saw Jesters Honor (#5) as a single, however, if most of the runners stay put, this race on the dirt is one of the better betting races of the afternoon. Running Right By U (#9) is one of three main track only runners here, and I think he has some upside in this spot. He’s a three year old taking on older horses, but I think the key for him today is that he’s getting back to what he wants to do, which is sprinting on the main track. He broke his maiden at this distance last summer and ran a credible 4th in open allowance company, also at this distance, at the end of the meet. Three races ago, he made his first start of 2023 where he faced a very salty field at this level when he finished 7th, beaten 11 lengths. He tried two turns two starts ago and he tried a turf sprint in his most recent start. Neither of those races were successful, so Chuck Spina, who has had a nice meet, gets him back to a one turn dirt contest, where many of his rivals were expecting to race on grass. His Tomlinson number is one of the higher ones in the field, so if he enjoys the slop, he could be live in this race at a decent number. Paco Lopez is named to ride Sand Dune (#8) and Lemon Creek Louie (#11), the latter of which is a main track only entrant. I think Sand Dune is likely to defect from this race. Lemon Creek Louie is making his second start off the layoff after a bit of a dull 2023 debut last month at Parx. He was a handy winner at this condition last year before going off form a bit when racing with tougher company. His trainer, Michael Moore, has strong numbers with runners in their second race off the layoff (25% winners since the start of 2022). Hello Pop (#2) broke his maiden on the main track with a daylight win two starts back. Rory Huston put him on the turf to face winners for the first time last month, and he ran well to be second. He’s never really run a bad race on turf or dirt, so I could see this son of Freud running well on a wet track, which would be a new experience for him.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $27 Ticket:
I think with the third race coming off the turf, Midnight Heiress (#7, R3) towers over whatever will be left of that field. I’ll backup with both Postino’s Prophecy (#1, R3) and Beatubyachubinose (#8, R3) on some deeper plays if either or both opt to race, however I think the heavy favorite is going to be too tough. I think there’s a chance for some mid level prices to connect in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th races today, which could make this modest ticket pay out well.
Two year olds, sprinting five furlongs on the main track, will kick off the Late Pick-5. I thought the race from Peace Not War (#3) two weeks ago was better than it looks on paper. He was roughed up pretty good at the start, relegating him to the back of the field early on. He advanced steadily down the backstretch and had to pause his forward momentum while he was in behind a runner. He shifted to the outside and ended up tiring a bit to finish 4th in that race. The winner was stablemate, who he was working in company with prior to both debuting in that same race. I think that he has some ability and should be able to improve off an educational debut. Mike Trombetta and Mike Stidham are both bringing first time starters in here from Fair Hill. The favorite is Stidham’s Maycocks Bay (#6) with Paco Lopez. He’s been working well in Maryland for his debut. He’s owned by Godolphin, so I think if they thought he had more ability, he’d be making his debut at Saratoga. I also think he’s going to be better suited to sprinting on the turf, based on his pedigree. I’ll cover with him on deeper plays, but unless they’re hammering this one at the windows, I’m going to try to beat him. I think Legendary Phantom (#2) for Trombetta, might be a little more under the radar. He’s an American Pharoah runner that also has been working nicely at Fair Hill. His dam did all of her work on synthetic or turf, but there’s enough dirt influence in his pedigree to suggest that he’ll be just fine on the main track. Apprentice Luis Rivera Jr. will get the assignment today. Uncle Cat (#8) is a half to Smiley Sobotka, who was narrowly defeated in a sprint at Ellis when making his debut. He went on to win at two turns and he finished a close second in the Kentucky Jockey Club as a two year old. He didn’t run a step at three, but he was precocious enough. This colt is sired by Nyquist, whose offspring have connected to win 19% of their debut races in dirt sprints.
Much like the third race, this conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race loses a lot of its luster now that it is going to be run on the main track. Fast Corey (#9)gets the outside draw and should be the controlling speed. Her effort at six furlongs on the dirt at Aqueduct when facing better wasn’t bad. She was getting tired last when facing better on the turf last month at Belmont. In the final furlong, she ducked in and lost the rider, Eric Cancel. She moves to Silvino Ramirez’s barn, and he has decent numbers with new acquisitions. She gets significant class relief and should be the best of what’s left. Whatchamacall (#8) had a rough start in her only start on a sloppy course, and that race came in open allowance company. Her last three races have come the turf, and she’s shown improvement in those efforts while facing softer company. She’s sired by Frosted, so I do think she’ll be okay on a sloppy course at this level.
The last Pick-3 of the week starts with a time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for fillies and mares going six furlongs. Gulfstream invader Del Rey Dolly (#7) should be very comfortable, assuming the course comes up sloppy. Her last two races are likely why she’s listed at 8-1 on the morning line. However, this seems like a logical spot to improve in her second start off the layoff. Something clearly was amiss two back where she didn’t fire. She was away for over 10 months after that race and returned at this level in Florida two weeks ago. She was wide throughout that afternoon, tailing off when going seven furlongs. That kind of trip is challenging off that kind of break, so cutting back to six furlongs makes sense to me. She has two wins and third on off tracks and she’s moving into a barn that has been successful with limited starters at this meet. Arrow Shape (#1) moves up in class after two dominating wins with conditioned $5K claimers in a seven day span last month. She was claimed out of both of those races and now runs for Jose Delgado, who has won with 21% of his runners first off the claim since 2022. She’ll likely be a heavy favorite and she’s worth using, however, she is moving up in class, which means that I really don’t want to bet her at odds much lower than her 2-1 morning line. Miss Casey (#4) comes back to two for the red hot Claudio Gonzalez barn. He had two winners on yesterday’s card, planting himself firmly atop the leaderboard in the trainer standings right now. Ths filly has been third in her last two tries and she has some races at Laurel over the winter that would make her very tough at this level. Her recent form isn’t as strong, but she could be coming around. If we can get better than her 3-1 morning line figure, she’d be a little more appealing to me.
Race 9, The $100K My Frenchman Stakes:
This is the companion race to the Blue Sparkler Stakes, which was for three year old fillies run yesterday on the turf. While this race comes off the grass, this is still a very nice race for three year olds. Sweet Cherry Pie (#6) is going to be the one to beat. He was a game second to Brad Cox’s Saudi Crown two starts back at Churchill. He was a little flat at Ellis while dealing with a wide trip that afternoon, when going 6 and ½ furlongs. I think the cutback in distance should suit him well. While I get the desire to get him on the grass being sired by Twirling Candy out of a Kitten’s Joy mare, he’s been very tough on the dirt to start his career and I think that experiment could wait for another day. Super Chow (#9) was certainly well campaigned over the winner. He won four consecutive non-graded stakes races in a row and was second in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at seven furlongs. His last two races have not been his best though, finishing off the board in the Chick Lang at Pimlico and running third in the Carry Back at Gulfstream. He’s got a lot of early speed and both of those races had some contentious pace battles. I like the cutback in distance for him as well, along with his outside draw. His full sister was a debut winner here yesterday, so it could be a very good weekend for Spendthrift Farms, who bred both of these speedballs. Trevor McCarthy was scheduled to come in to ride Extendo (#1), who was a “play against” for me on the turf. He’s never run on the main track, but he might be the speed of the speed in this race, which could be a valuable asset if he stays in this race. That will be a new experience for him, so I’d like to get better than his 3-1 morning line odds, however, I do think he’s intriguing now that this race will be contested on the main track.
The week will wrap up with a conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming race at 5 and ½ furlongs on the main track. One of the more suspicious class droppers in this one is Golden Code (#3), who was 3rd in the Grade 3 Gotham last year. He was crushed in the Wood Memorial behind future Belmont winner, Mo Donegal, and then he went to the sidelines for 10 months. He ran three times over the winter and spring at the Big A, facing state bred allowance foes. He was third two back and then finished a dull 5th in April when making his last start. He was owned by Calumet Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, and now runs for Starry Night Racing and is trained by Kent Sweezy. It’s not uncommon for a horse like this to be scratched out of a race like this, but I’ll be trying to beat him if he does run, since things just don’t seem to add up for me. Michael Pino runs back two horses that he claimed on 6/24. Holy City (#2) makes more sense to be, since he was claimed out of a race at this level. Pino has strong numbers first off the claim and he gets Paco Lopez to ride this gelded son of Temple City. I don’t love the claim and drop for his stablemate, Shea On the Lam (#5), who was dull with conditioned $16K-$14K claimers that same afternoon. However, he does appear to be the controlling speed in this race and his Tomlinson figure is solid, in what would be his first race on a wet track (assuming that is the case today). I’ll use both in this spot, along with Smooth Rico (#1), who beat Holy City two starts ago in that same 6/24 race. He raced the following week with better horses and was cooked in a pace battle that day. He moves back down to a more appropriate level. Apprentice Melissa Iorio had her second winner of the meet in the nightcap yesterday and she gets the return call on the runner that gave her that elusive first local win.
Top Pick Winners: 57/245 (23.3%) – $390.60/$1.59 ROI
I’ll save some thoughts for this section next week from some of the races yesterday as most of my time was spent pivoting to handicap this card for a wet track and four of the ten races coming off the turf.