Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 7/17/22 – By Eric Solomon

One year ago today, the 2021 Haskell Stakes was run where Hot Rod Charlie crossed the wire first, but was disqualified for his role in causing Midnight Bourbon to lose his rider at the top of the stretch. Mandaloun, who was awarded the 2021 Kentucky Derby title this year, was put up as the winner that afternoon. This year’s edition is six short days away, and the field for that race is starting to come into focus with Jack Christopher, Taiba, White Abarrio, and Cyberknife all pointing toward the big day. We’ll try to use the ten race card today to build up that bankroll for next weekend. The featured race is the $100K My Frenchman Stakes for three year olds sprinting on the turf. 

 

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

 

 

Race 1:

The Sunday afternoon program starts off with a $16K-$14K maiden claiming race on the turf. The bulk of the wagering attention figures to go to Mystified (#1) and Fusion Jazz (#2), both running for high percentage outfits that have had a decent amount of success with limited starters at the meet. Both are definitely going to be on my tickets, however, I’ll take a bit of a chance with Royal Time (#5), making his second start for Claudio Gonzalez. Gonzalez does have better numbers with horses running on the dirt, but this one took a solid step forward last out when moving to this barn and routing on grass for the first time. He also was getting significant class relief, coming in from the NYRA circuit where he was facing multiple next out winners in New York bred races. He ran well when forwardly placed and is a candidate to improve off his last effort. Jonathan Thomas ships Mystified here for his turf debut after three races on the Tapeta at Woodbine. Over the last five years, Thomas has hit with 29% of his runners going from synthetic to turf and 67% of those runners have hit the board. For the most part, none of these 21 horses in this sample ran terribly. Of the 15 non winners, only two were beaten by more than five lengths, and the largest margin of defeat was eight lengths. If he gets a decent trip, I figure he’ll be right there at the end. Fusion Jazz runs for Jose Sanchez, who drops him in class after a pair of lackluster efforts on this course with better company. He’s had trouble lines in all four starts and now gets his 5th different rider for his 5th career start. He’s clearly not the easiest horse to ride, but if Jomar Torres can get him figured out, he’ll likely be right in the mix at this level. 

Race 2:

It appears that the two turn experiment is over for Cyberviking (#2) who cuts back to six furlongs this afternoon in this N1X allowance race for three year olds. He hit the board in his last three route races, but he’s been way more effective at 6 and 7 furlongs on the main track. He’s a four time winner, who actually crossed the wire first five times. He ran into a buzzsaw last out when Be Better turned in a sparkling performance to clear the N1X allowance conditon by over five lengths. I think  the longer races will give him the added stamina he’ll need to clear this condition this afternoon. I’ll take the short odds and move on. 

Race 3:

New Jersey breds sprint 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf in this optional $15K claiming/N1R allowance race. There are plenty of ways to go in this race, so this feels like the leg where the most coverage will be needed in multi-race sequences. I like Here Comes Billy (#2), making his second start of the year for Douglas Nunn. As a two year old, he debuted here on the dirt over closing weekend and ran a solid second in that race. He went to a turf sprint at the Meadowlands and was dominant, drawing off to win by an easy three lengths to beat state bred maidens. He tried open stakes company in the Atlantic Beach at Aqueduct, going six furlongs on the grass where he ran poorly. He made his first start of 2022 in an allowance race on the dirt where he was flying late to get the short end of a four horse photo. Nunn follows the same playbook as last year by moving him to the grass. While it’s not surprising that his sire, Flat Out, doesn’t have a great track record with turf sprinters, winning only 6% of the time over the last five years, his dam, Poochy, won several turf sprints in Maryland and New Jersey in her time. Sand Dune (#8) has shown that he is best when sprinting on the grass. He makes his third start off the layoff and gets back to what he wants to do at a level where he can be competitive. He was right there in his last two turf sprints at this level in 2021. 2022 has not gotten off to a great start, as he struggled with open $35K N3L claimers at Belmont in his return to the races in June. He returned here 13 days later at this level in a two turn race where he wilted late. My gut is telling me that Kratos (#5) will be more likely to win in his next start, but he might be classy enough to get the job today. He debuted for Kent Sweezey in a turf sprint and was flying late to narrowly lose in a photo at Delaware. He shipped here and narrowly lost to one of the better younger New Jersey bred turf horses, He’spuregold, in a maiden special weight race at two turns. That one was an easy winner of the Irish War Cry Handicap last week. He broke his maiden in his next start and ran a decent 4th when facing winners for the first time. He went back to Delaware and was a decent 2nd in a 13 horse open N1X allowance race at the end of September. He ran a decent race on a fast dirt track and a subpar effort in the slop there to end his three year old season. He makes his first start since the end of October today for Sweezy, who doesn’t have great numbers off the layoff. He may be using this race to set him up for a two turn race at this level next month. Regardless, I think this four year old has enough talent to make an impact here and should be covered. Magical Jaime (#6) and Jester’s Honor (#9) are two horses that I struggled with here. Paco Lopez hops aboard Magical Jaime for the first time after two solid races locally. He had a tough start when going two turns last out in a big field, where he was relegated to the back of pack after early jostling. He beat open conditioned claimers two back at five furlongs on the turf, setting a new career high speed figure for either surface. His other two turf sprints were nowhere near as good. I ended up using him on the B line just because he’s in such good current form. I put Jester’s Honor on the C line, using him on some of the deepest plays. He’s a seven year old gelding and the only runner to have made it to the track in the last five years that was sired by Freud’s Honor. I am a sucker for horses sired by Freud in turf sprints, so it wasn;t shocking when he ran a strong race on a speed favoring turf course at the Meadowlands in his only career turf start last year. He’s been up the track in his two dirt starts this year, at a level where he was a little more competitive last season. Perhaps the return to grass will wake him up. I’ll need decent odds on him, probably 12-1 or higher, and with that big race last year, I’m not sure that I’ll get that number. 

Race 4:

This is a competitive optional $25K claiming/N2X allowance race for fillies and mares going one mile on the main track. A pair of Delaware shippers coming off big efforts at the N1X level last out will grab the headlines today. At the end of the day, I don’t think the other five fillies and mares here can go with Factor In (#6) in the early stages of this one. She’s improved dramatically since joining Brittany Russell’s barn at the end of 2021. Since then, she’s a perfect 3-3 on fast dirt tracks with her two losses coming on the turf and in the slop. She easily defeated optional claiming/starter allowance types two back, and she was dominant at the N1X level last month. She has the outside post, but I think Paco Lopez shouldn’t have trouble clearing the other five before they hit the first turn. I think from there, he can control the pace with this daughter of The Factor. Song of Innocence (#4) will make her third start in 22 days and her first in a race that was carded for the dirt. She embarrassed what was left of the field in a N1X allowance race that was taken off the turf on July 8th. She stalked the early pace and then exploded to win by 16 lengths on the wire. This is a quick turnaround and a much deeper group though. I’ll cover with her on deeper tickets, thinking that she’ll be overbet off that big effort. I’ll use her on the C line and put Emilia’s Moon (#1) on the B line. She’s coming back to two turns today. Like her dam, she was a stakes winner in Peru before coming to North America. She ran two strong races last year at Saratoga and at Keeneland for Bill Mott before going off form. She was moved to Michelle Hemingway’s barn, and she returned in a seven furlong race at this level at Belmont where she was completely overmatched. This field, while talented, is not as deep, and I respect anything that this barn is sending out at the moment.

Race 5:

I think Empire Way (#7) has a huge shot on debut in this maiden special weight on the turf. With 11 runners sired by Klimt that have debuted on the turf so far, five of them have come home victorious. The dam has yet to produce any runners, but her best work came when she was sprinting on the synthetic surface at Woodbine. He’s been working well in the mornings for Kathleen DeMasi, who has done well with first time starters. It’s fair to note that, none of those debut winners came in turf races, however, I think this one is well-spotted in a race where his main opponent, who will likely be the favorite at post time, is 0-17. Perhaps this will be the day for Jerry’s Turn (#8), who is the aforementioned 0-17 runner. He was second to Too Many Twizzlers, who shows up this afternoon in the My Frenchman Stakes. No one in this field that has experience can match his figures, so he’s a must use in the exotics. I’ll cover with him on some deeper plays, but it’s hard to get too excited about him in terms of a win candidate. John Jay (#6) merits a look here while trying the turf for the first time. He hooked some salty fields in his first two starts on the main track. He didn’t embarrass himself, finishing 3rd and 5th in those two races. He moves to the turf for the first time, which isn’t a great angle for his trainer, nor is it for horses sired by Hard Spun. However, there is enough turf ability in his pedigree to believe that he could take a step forward on the turf, which he’d likely need to do to beat Jerry’s Turn. 

WIN-EARLY PICK-5: 

I do like this sequence this afternoon, and while I’ll likely have some backup tickets, I like the idea of hitting the all-button in Race 3. I do like Here Comes Billy (#2, R3) in that race, but there’s not a single horse in that race that I would be shocked if they crossed the wire first. To afford that ticket, I’m going to be singled to Cyberviking (#2, R2), who I see as the most likely winner on the card, and Empire Sky (#7, R5), who debuts in the last leg. 

Race 6:

The Late Pick-5 starts with a $5K starter allowance race for three year olds and up going six furlongs. One of the reasons why Jamie Ness wins so many races is because he’s so sharp with horses he claims and how he handles them. He went to Churchill to claim Abuelo Nuno (#2) $25K. This is a four year old Poseidon’s Warrior gelding that has been steadily improving over the last year. He was running in restricted $5K claiming races last summer, clearing the N2L condition at Arlington back in September. He was improving for trainer Carlos Silva on the dirt at Hawthorne and the Fair Grounds, winning with $10K restricted claimers there on January 3rd. Tom Amoss claimed him and tried him in allowance company. He dropped back into higher priced claimers where he was claimed for higher tags each time. Ness spent the $25K on him, knowing that he’s still eligible for the N1X condition, which he could likely clear at Parx or Penn National in the near future. Meanwhile though, Ness essentially drops him in class to a $5K starter allowance race. This race is not nearly as tough as his last two in Kentucky with open claimers, so he’s getting class relief and is protected. Frankie Pennington is making the trip to ride in this race only, which is his only mount. I think he’ll be very tough to beat in his local debut. Savvy Layla (#3) ran a big race to be a close second at this level two starts ago. He’s still eligible for N3L claiming company, but he’s a consistent performer hitting the board in 60% of his starts. I liked both of his local efforts and now he gets the rider upgrade to Samy Camacho. 

Race 7:

The Late Pick-4 begins with a head scratching $16K-$14K maiden claiming race at 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. At least on the morning line, the value lies with Urban Beach (#6), who makes his first start off the Tony Wilson claim. He had the misfortune of drawing post 12 at this level last out, which left him near the back of the pack after going three wide early and  he was closest to the grandstand, turning six wide for home. He closed well two back to get into second at long odds at this level, so I do believe there is something there. I worry that he’ll be pace compromised in this spot, so I’ll hope that Samuel Marin can try to get a little more early interest from him. Committed (#1) is coming out of the same race and gets the rail for his third start off the layoff. He’s had ten chances to break his maiden so far, mustering up only one third place finish. Most of those starts were against significantly better competition though. Paco Lopez takes over this horse who has had to overcome wide posts for seven of his nine career route races. Joshua (#9) stretches out to two turns for the first time, while shipping in and dropping from the NYRA circuit. His two tries on the turf were significantly better than his three career dirt starts. He’ll have to work out a trip from the outside draw, but he should be forwardly placed, which continues to be a good thing with the rails at this position (24 feet). His pedigree (Animal Kingdom out of a Street Sense mare) tells me he should be able to handle the distance on grass. His trainer, Robert Falcone has won 17% of the time and has hit the board with 43% of his horses stretching out to routes on the turf.

Race 8:

This is a $25K starter allowance race for three year olds and up going six furlongs. Unlike some of the other starter allowances they card here, there are no additional conditions. Five of the seven entered in this race have a legitimate chance of winning. Looking at the most recent races, I don’t think anyone has faced the caliber of horses that Doc Amster (#7) has seen in his last two races. He nearly beat a very good optional claiming/N3X allowance field here on July 1st. He begrudgingly faded to 5th two starts back in a very running of the Mr. Prospector Stakes where the pace was hot and heavy. His last few tries have not quite been his very best, but he’s the only contender that’s getting notable class relief. I think he and Hero Tiger (#5) are in the most consistent form coming into this race. Hero Tiger has finished no worse than 4th in his last 16 starts, hitting the board in 13 of them and winning times. He won last time out and was right there at the wire in his last three. Paco Lopez has ridden him in his last three Mid-Atlantic starts and he takes this mount over the Steadytilready (#2) who is making his first start off the Kelly Breen claim. Secret Rules (#3) feels like one that I want to have backed up on my tickets. He’s the lukewarm morning line favorite coming off a monster effort at Belmont when he went gate to wire as a heavy favorite on a sealed racetrack with $25K N3L claimers. This is a big step up in class in his first start off the claim. He does have a string of races last year where he had consecutive Beyer figures in the low 90’s, which would definitely eclipse the par for this race. I’m just not willing to take too short of a price on him to see if he can string those races together again.

Race 9: The $100K My Frenchman Stakes:

Like yesterday’s Blue Sparkler Stakes for three year old fillies sprinting on the turf, this stakes race has direct competition with the Grade 3 Quick Call Stakes being run today at Saratoga. The only runner who is cross-entered in that race is One Timer (#2), who is the morning line favorite. Larry Rivelli trains another horse, Nobals, in that same race, with common ownership to this one, so I’ll assume that this gelded son of Trappe Shot will be headed this way. If he does run here, I believe this will be the first local start for jockey, Jareth Loveberry, who is riding many of Rivelli’s horses (and others) at Colonial Downs this season. One Timer will be in search of his 5th career win in his 6th start. His only loss was a two length defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last November at Del Mar. He is the class of this field, but he has to contend with both That’s Right (#5) and Classicstateofmind (#6), who both seem intent upon making the lead. Unlike those two, he’s proven to be able to get the distance, winning at 5 and ½ and 6 furlongs on Tapeta. I think he’s worth including on your tickets, but I think the race should set up perfectly for Too Many Twizzlers (#7). He was away slow in both of his starts, but not nearly as bad last time as in his debut. Hector Diaz gave him a perfect ride on a day where the rails were in the same configuration. He let his natural speed carry him up along the rail and closed stoutly on the inside. He draws the widest post in this seven horse contest, so we’ll see if Diaz can orchestrate another great ride in a race that should be there for the taking if he’s good enough. Even though he’s unproven at this distance, That’s Right has yet to be challenged on the turf, winning both of his five furlong sprints by daylight margins. He might be faster than the other two in the early stages, as he’s opened up a clear lead within the first quarter mile in both of his turf races. If not, he’ll need to prove that he can continue to battle on when in between horses. So far, he’s passed both turf tests with flying colors. Despite winning the Roar Stakes at Gulfstream, Classicstateofmind is the contender that I’ll be avoiding. I didn’t like his lone effort outside of Florida in the Palisades at Keeneland going this distance. The turf course here this time of year will be closer to the Gulfstream course than the Keeneland course in April, so I’d be willing to forgive that part. However, at this longer distance and with him drawn outside of other speed, I’m thinking he’ll be the first of the trio to be backing out. 

Race 10:

The week ends with $7,500-$6,500 conditioned claimers going six furlongs. A field of seven has been assembled for the get out race where everyone qualifies under the N2L condition. We Ready (#5) is the even money morning line play, dropping in class for Bonnie Lucas and Paco Lopez. He broke his maiden with $20K maiden claimers three starts back at Belmont. He’s been competitive with conditioned $12,500 and $16K claimers in his last two starts, hitting the board both times. This is a considerable drop in class despite showing ability with better runners. He’s already earned more than 3X his purchase price on the track, so this could be a move to try to get into the Winner’s Circle. He is an A line horse for me, but at such short odds, I’ll try Cajun Lover (#1) with his rail speed on top. He’s a three year old dropping in class after two failed turf attempts with better. He broke his maiden in the slop with $25K-$20K maiden claimers at Gulfstream over the winter and followed that effort with a strong try in optional claiming/starter allowance company there. He hasn’t been on the dirt since though, faltering on synthetic before shipping here. He’s 4-1 on the morning line, and that odds disparity between him and the favorite continues, I’d prefer him seeing as how he has more early speed on a course that has been kind to horses that are closer to the front end. I Make the Rules (#4) is another one worth considering in his third career start. He debuted on the grass and dropped from $30K maiden claimers to $10K maiden claimers where he was a popular winner last month. He was a $360K purchase that was claimed for $10K, so his original connections got a photograph, but mostly took a bath on him. He did show some grit, battling four wide and holding on for the victory. He certainly is capable of stepping forward for his new connections in his third career start and his first against winners. 

 

Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners: 69/257 (26.8%) – $537.10/ $2.09 ROI 

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