The racing calendar expands to four days a week this week, with Monday’s being added to the mix. As they do on Fridays, the Monday cards in August will have a 2:00 (ET) first post. Also announced this week is a special Monday Mid-Atlantic Pick-4, taking two races from Monmouth and two races from Colonial Downs. Players will be appreciative of the 15% takeout for this wager, which will be offered every Monday through September 5th.I’ll have more on that later in the week. There’s an eight race program this afternoon, highlighted by an optional $50K claiming/N3X allowance race on the turf in Race 4. Leading rider, Paco Lopez, begins serving his five day suspension today, so we won’t see him on the track here until next Saturday.
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||5||3||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||5||5||6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|3||6||5,6||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|4||4||4||2,5,6||DBL, PK3, PK 5|
|5||5||5,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The first race of the week is a $12,500-$10,500 maiden claiming race going 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. I’m absolutely perplexed with a horse like Making It (#5) showing up in this race. He has three career starts, albeit with some gaps in his running lines. All three races have come in maiden special weight races, and all three efforts were solid, especially the two dirt races. He was second at Keeneland two back, running a big race in his first career start on the dirt. He didn’t hit the track again until July at Belmont, where he was third, going a one turn mile. He paired both his Beyer and Equibase speed figures, both of which tower over his competition here. However, the question has to be asked; why is he entered in this spot? This is a massive drop in class for a horse that was very capable in maiden allowance company. He was purchased for $115K at auction back in 2019, and he’s only earned about ⅓ of that number back on the racetrack. He’ll have to drop off significantly to lose this race. I do want to back up with at least one other runner, because this is about as suspicious a drop as I’ve seen in quite some time. Speed was very good last week, and if that trend continues into this week, the stretch out sprinter, Dream Astray (#3) is worth a shot here. He drops back to a more reasonable level after jumping up in class last out. He was sharp two back with $10K maiden claimers when going one turn. Over the last five years, horses sired by Gone Astray have only won 8% of the time when making their first route start. However, they have hit the board 41% of the time, suggesting there could be two turn ability there. His dam spent most of her career in the claiming ranks, but three of her four career wins came at this distance.
With Making It (#5) scratched, I’ll make Dream Astray (#3) the top pick and add Khopilot (#7) to the Win-Early Pick 5 ticket. I think Rojas will have him in a good spot early today.
Alta Velocita (#5) makes a lot of sense in this $25K starter allowance which is also open to horses that have not won a race in 2022. She tried two turns for the first time when facing state breds in the Smart N Classy Handicap last month. She finished midpack that day, never threatening the winner. She’s been very effective in sprint races though, winning 7 of 18 times in her career at this distance. She makes her third start off the layoff while moving to open company after facing Jersey breds in her last two. She is more than capable with open company, and I believe this is class relief from her last race. I think she’s very dangerous here. Ray Arewethereyet (#6) has never run for a tag, but she’s eligible for this race by virtue of not winning this year. She’s only started once, finishing off the board in optional claiming/allowance company back in January at Tampa. She was very good when winning twice here last year. When she’s on her game, she’s faster than her five rivals in the early stages, which was a good thing for sure last week. However, her last two starts weren’t very good and her trainer, Luis Carvajal, does not have good numbers off the layoff. I’ll cover my bases with her based off of her back class, but her recent form is troubling.
I’m not liking what I’m seeing from the Todd Pletcher first time starter, Beauty Quist (#1) in this $40K-$30K maiden claiming race for fillies and mares going six furlongs. Her works were not spectacular when she was based at Saratoga. He brought her down here, where she worked once, which was also on the slow side. She was purchased for $100K and debuts in a race where she’s entered for a $40K tag. I feel like she would have stayed at the Spa if Pletcher thought she could compete in the maiden claiming races there. While he has with 27% of his debut runners in maiden claiming races over the last two years, his numbers drop off to 19% when debuting older runners in maiden claiming races. He’s has not won here with a debuting maiden claimer, and all of those winners over the last five years have been on the NYRA circuit or during the Championship Meet at Gulfstream. I’ll try to beat her outright by using both Pony Girl (#5) and Kamenshek (#6). Kamenshek will be the top pick while making her first career start on the dirt today. She has shown a lot of speed in her four career races, all coming in turf sprints. Her sire, Divining Rod, wins with 16% of his dirt sprinters. She’s the first foal from the dam, Steel Cut, who was a multiple stakes winning Oklahoma bred, with all of her career wins coming on the dirt. Claudio Gonzalez has hit with 24% of his runners going from turf to dirt over the last five years. If the same speed translates to the main track, I think she wires this field on the drop back in the maiden claiming ranks. Pony Girl also moves back into maiden claiming company. She was claimed three starts back by Gerald Bennett for $25K at Tampa. She tried the turf in maiden special weight company in her local debut and faded down the stretch to be 6th. She came back to the main track last month and was beaten by Drifaros, who came back to win in her first start when facing winners. Samy Camacho and Bennett connect at 22% when they team up, a figure that is higher then both of their individual win percentages.
We go back to the turf for the featured race this afternoon, which is an optional $50K claiming/N3X allowance race going 1 mile and 1/16. I do think it’s going to be tough to beat Winfromwithin (#4) in this spot. He ran very well two starts back on this course in the Cliff Hanger Stakes where he was a part of a serious duel on the front end. They clicked off fast fractions on a good course, and he kept finding at long odds, only to get caught by Kentucky Ghost in the final strides. He shipped to a race at a similar condition at Belmont and again was right there with some strong fractions in a one turn mile there. He’s an improving four year old that should beat this group if he can duplicate one of his last two efforts. The rails being all the way out at 36 feet should also help his cause. However, once again, there will be no easy leads for him with runners that will want to be forwardly placed to his inside and outside. Mt Suribachi (#5) is interesting to me in this spot. He’s eligible for a N2X allowance race, but Timothy Smylie will take his shot with him here. When horses have been winning from off the pace when the rails are at this position, they have been horses that have some tactical speed, and they have been making their closing move a little earlier than usual. He fits that profile and he has three solid races in a row to start his 2022 campaign. I think he’s got a chance here. Confessor (#6) is another interesting runner that is switching to the turf for the first time in a long time. You have to go back 40 starts to find his last turf race. That came in his third career start as two year old where he finished 5th, beaten seven lengths. He did run his best career figure to that point, so I don’t think he hated the grass. He was solid when clearing the N2X condition in his last race at the end of May. He might be overlooked here and could offer some value. Oceans Map (#2) is the likely second choice, and probably the classiest runner in the race. He was about two lengths behind Winfromwithin in the Cliff Hanger two back. He was wide and overmatched in the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes here last month. He gets some class relief today and should have a pace to close into. However, the deep closers have struggled with the rails at this position. He’s worth covering from a class perspective though.
Conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claimers going 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track will wrap up the Win-Early Pick-5 sequence this afternoon. I’ll be using a pair of runners that are looking to rebound off subpar efforts last out. Right On Q (#5) is the top pick here. He made his first start of the meet at this level back in May and ran a solid second place. He showed some interest before backing up badly with $25K starter allowance company in his most recent start. He drops back to a more appropriate level today. He’s improved dramatically since trying two turns, so I’m expecting that Joan Milne will have him right for this race. Mister J T (#6) was 0-12 when running in maiden claiming races on the NYRA circuit before shipping here in June. He was a much the best winner with $12,500-$10,500 maiden claimers in the slop that afternoon. He faced winners for the first time when running against a better group of $16K-$14K conditioned claimers. He chased a hot pace that afternoon, before backing out of the picture. There appears to be less speed signed on for him to contend with today, and he’s shown the ability to run better races after poor efforts.
WIN-EARLY PICK FIVE, $32 Ticket:
If you want to know why this wager is one of the best options for value in the country, look at the payouts last weekend. On Haskell Day, this wager paid out a shade under $90K, with some unlikely winners. Sunday’s Win-Early Pick-5 paid out over $8,100, with four heavy favorites winning and a 50-1 longshot in the middle leg, which was the most likely spread race in the sequence. Today’s sequence feels like there’s a good chance where it will payout less, however, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t value. I’ll use a pair of runners in four of the five legs, and spread out in the feature. WInfromwithin (#4, R4) has the potential to be one of the shorter prices in the sequence, and while he is a likely winner, there’s enough speed in that race that could soften him up. I’ll use that race to spread out four deep, hoping that maybe we can connect with another runner there, in a leg where many will be singled to the favorite.
The last Pick-3 opportunity of the afternoon is bookended by a pair of five furlong turf sprints. This one is for conditioned $16K-$14K claimers. These five furlong dashes on the grass have been all about early speed, which should favor both U Kant Whip It (#1) and Chief Reider (#7). I’ll give the narrow edge to Chief Reider for Kathleen DeMasi and Jose Ferrer. He’s improved dramatically since coming to the turf last year. He broke his maiden with $16K maiden claimers at Delaware at this distance. He faced winners at Penn National in his next start, where he got caught in the final strides on a yielding course. He tired last in his local and seasonal debut when going 5 and ½ furlongs at this level three weeks ago. DeMasi has hit with 20% of her runners in 2022, but is 0-13 so far at this meet. I think she has a good chance to find the Winner’s Circle with this one. U Kant Whip It won last out via disqualification, when making his local and seasonal debut for Kelly Breen. He faced $30K-$25K maiden claimers that day, so the drop in for a $16K tag is very logical when facing winners for the first time. Like Chief Reider, he’s been a different horse since trying turf. Both horses have the same style, so I will back up with a pair of runners that will trying to catch them late. I think both Mach One (#2) and Merokee (#4) would be better suited for 5 and ½ furlongs. Coming from off the pace has been a tough challenge when the rails are at 36 feet as well. However, Jairo Rendon (rider of Mach One) and Angel Rodriguez (rider of Merokee) have been riding the course well lately. Both horses are more likely to finish underneath, but with the right trip, they could get up in time.
Here we have a $5K starter allowance for three year olds and upward going one mile. Coach Adams (#3) looks to win his third race of the meet and his second consecutive race here. He dominated a race at this level last out when going 1 mile and ¼ at the beginning of the month. He’s been very sharp here this season after a less than ideal winter at Oaklawn. He figures to sit a very nice trip off the early speed here. Indian Buzz (#8) is the main danger, coming back off a monster effort back on June 10th to beat Coach Adams in a very nice optional $12,500 claiming/$6,250 starter allowance race. The track was slow and tiring that day, but he set some very legitimate fractions. Other horses that ran on the main track that day struggled to hold the lead and struggled when down on the rail. He continued to find throughout the stretch, holding off Coach Adams, who ran a strong race, but couldn’t get to him that day. The presence of Exchequer (#7) directly to his inside might make things difficult on him. That one has been very sharp from the gate in his last few starts and apprentice Andy Hernandez (rider of Exchequer) has been riding aggressively at this meet. Between that and going from the inside to the outside post, I do believe his task will be harder today.
The nightcap is for $16K-$14K maiden claimers sprinting five furlongs on the grass. There’s several ways to go in this one, so I’ll try the second time starter, Tap Em (#1) making his first start of the Douglas Nunn claim. He showed some speed before fading with $10K maiden claimers on the main track when debuting for Jose Camejo. He’s sired by Tapiture, who gets 8% winners with horses making their first starts on the turf. The dam was sired by Scat Daddy and she only ran once on the turf. She was off the board that day, but didn’t run horribly. He might be able to use his rail post to his advantage with a clean break. Wine Time (#5) has had less than ideal starts in all three career starts, but he’s gone on to run a pair of credible races since coming here. He’s coming out of one of the more notorious races of the meet so far on 6/26, along with both Whata Guy (#6) and Bayou Shack (#2). The starting gate opened without the last horse loaded, and thus caught many riders unprepared. I’m definitely willing to be forgiving of just about any effort from that race. Whata Guy was making his first start while sprinting on the grass that afternoon. He showed some speed, but he didn’t have a great trip that day either. Both are runners that should be taken seriously here. Suit of Armor (#4) is making his 11th start and might go off as the favorite, seeing as how his speed figures in turf sprints are higher than the others. I have some concerns about the five furlong distance though. I’m also not in love with the fact that his trainer, Bonnie Lucas, is 0-21 with turf sprinters. He feels like a horse to use as a saver on some deeper plays.
Top Pick Winners: 78/296 (26.4%) – $615.70/ $2.08 ROI