The racing office at Monmouth Park has put together an excellent betting card to end the week of racing. The rails on the turf course are at 0 feet, so there are some full fields, including an overflow field of 14 in the Tyro Stakes, which is for two year olds sprinting five furlongs on the turf. The third leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Handicap Series also is carded today in the 7th race. 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||4||4,6||3||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||6||6,9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6||3||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||3||3,5||6||2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||1||1||5||DBL, PK3, PK4|
I always love when a race card begins with a full field and that’s what we have here with this $16K-$14K maiden claiming contest for fillies and mares, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. Gustiamo (#4) feels like the one to beat in this race, making her second start off the layoff today. She was third, beaten two lengths at this level three weeks ago, and she has a little more tactical speed than the morning line favorite Lady Thor (#3). I think we’ll see improvement from her in this spot. Jams Top Shelf (#6) is a candidate to be on or near the lead, which has been a good place to be on this turf course lately. She was overlooked at 30-1 in the wagering at this level on 6/18. I think turf sprinting is what she’s going to do best, so I can see her taking another step forward in this race where there are many unproven commodities. I’ll back up with Lady Thor because the depth in this race is lacking a bit. However, thinking about how this course has played over the last few weeks, I do think winning is going to be difficult. If the rails were at any point beside 0 feet, I’d probably try to beat her entirely, however, closers have had the best chances historically with this configuration.
This $25K-$20K maiden claiming race feels like a good spot to play against a Paco Lopez morning line favorite. Cowboy Jim (#5) has never been close in four starts, albeit with better horses. He posted a storing figure for his third place finish two starts back, but there was nothing overly impressive about that effort. Hooey (#6) on the other hand, has been second in two of his three career tries. He wasn’t firing in a four horse field two back, and when it became apparent he wasn’t going to get up for third, he was eased up. His last effort with $20K maiden claimers at Belmont was much stronger, so I think the class level should be on par with those in this race. Delgado has strong numbers with new acquisitions as he takes over the training from Linda Rice on this American Pharoah gelding. El de Chirel (#9) is the other logical player in this field. He should be challenging for the early lead from his outside draw and he’s dropping in class after a third place finish with $40K maiden claimers in his most recent start. If he can duplicate his effort against maiden allowance types two starts back, I think he wins this race.
The big question in this race is, how should you handle the heavy class dropper, Breakthrough (#2)? He’s three starts removed from winning the Wolf Hill Stakes on the Haskell Card in 2022, and now he shows up in a $12,500-$10,500 claiming race. For me, I think the play is to try to beat him. When you draw a line through the Wolf Hill, his form from 2022, while solid, is not that much better than some of the better alternatives in this race. He was awful in his lone start of the year in the Turf Sprint at Pimlico on Preakness Day, and the fact that he’s entered here two months later, tells me the vibes he’s giving off are not great. While I expect him to run better than he did last time out, my guess is that his effort will garner a Beyer Figure that is under the low eighties that he was averaging last year. If that’s the case, others are in play here at much better odds. Heals the Soul (#3) has primarily been a synthetic horse, racking up five wins in 12 starts on the Tapeta, mostly at Gulfstream. His one start on the turf came in a five furlong sprint at the Fair Grounds last year where he was a much the best winner. He was claimed two back for $10K by Carlos David, who tried him on the dirt for only the second time of his career when facing state bred optional claiming/allowance types. He was a dull 5th that day, but shipping here and getting back on the turf feels like a good move in his second start off the layoff. David has done well with the horses he’s brought to Monmouth. He trains Corduroy Road, who was a winner of the 7/1 race at this condition, and he has a similar profile to his stablemate. Corduroy Road beat some of these by almost four lengths, but he was only two lengths better than Heals the Soul when they met up in April on synthetic. Abe Honestly (#8) has been overlooked in both of his starts on the turf here, but he’s run well both times. He was a 12-1 winner with $18K-$16K N3L claimers two starts back and he finished second in the Corduroy Road race last month, going off at 26-1. He likes this course, winning twice and finishing in the money two more times in six career tries. He’s drawn more outside today as opposed to being down near the rail like he was in his last two tries. I expect another honest effort from him in this race. Forest Survivor (#9) is another one to consider as a backup play in this race. He’s making his third start off the layoff and trying to get back on the grass. Both of his last two tries were rained off the turf, but that didn’t stop him from scoring at this level back on 6/23. He finished in front of Corduroy Road on the main track that day. Like the top pick, it’s been awhile since he’s competed on the grass. Four of his five races have been good on the turf, winning a restricted stakes at Woodbine back in 2021. His lone dull effort on turf was against a much sharper field in a Claiming Crown race at Gulfstream.
There are three committed frontrunners in the $5K starter allowance race, which drew a field of nine. Hushion (#1), Commanding General (#4), and Mundo Mix (#9) all appear intent on making the early lead. Substantial (#2) is the morning line favorite, and he is best when he can get close to the lead, however, I’m not sure he can keep with this trio in the early stages. As a result, I think the table is set Aequor (#5) to make another strong off the pace run and win his third straight race. He’s caught solid paces in his first two races of the meet, beating conditioned $5K claimers back in June and then easily disposing of a time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claiming field three weeks ago. He came with a wide, over the top move both times. It does show that he’s now being trained by Faith Wilson, instead of Bruno Tessore. I’m not sure what the reason for the change is, however, the ownership has stayed the same. Samuel Marin got off to a slow start at this meet, but he’s been riding with much more confidence lately, and he was the engineer of his closing win last time out. My backup plan in this race is Loverboy Louie (#7), in hopes that a new barn and a cutback in distance can get him to revert back to his better form. His last four races have been at two turns, including three two turn sprints at Charles Town. None of those races have been particularly strong efforts. He was a winner at this distance at Parx back in April when he had a solid pace in front of him. He might be a bit quicker than Aequor and at long odds, he might be worth a shot because he might be able to get first run on the front runners. I do think both Hushion and Commanding General fit well with this group individually. If Mundo Mix or one of these would scratch, I would definitely consider upgrading the one that remains. However, if all three go, I think a heavy speed bias or troubled trips would be the only paths to victory. One note on Commanding General, who runs for Faith Wilson. Bruno Tessore has been very sharp with horses off the claim at this meet, winning three times (Aequor being one of them). He made the claim on Commanding General on July 8th, so even though the horse runs for Faith Wilson, I would still consider the possibility of an performance upgrade in his first start off the claim. The pace issue, and the fact that he figures to be in between those rivals, remains though. I’m really only considering upgrading these runners if there is a significant scratch.
A field of 12 fillies and mares will go one mile on the turf in this $16K starter allowance race. I do like the favorite, No Valla (#6) quite a bit. I thought she was a sneaky 6-1 longshot in an allowance race here at the beginning of the month, however, so did a lot of other people as she was hammered down to 2-1. She made an early move that day while trying to maintain position as the race winner was making her run. I didn’t love the ride from Nik Juarez that day, however that was his first time riding this mare. Her regular ride, Jorge Vargas Jr. was at Delaware that day and he’s back in the saddle today. She followed a similar pattern last year, dropping out of N1X into starter allowance company in her third race off the layoff, and she was a decisive five length winner. This feels like a good spot for her to get right. Gold Rush Kizzie (#3)will be where I’ll backup in this spot. When looking at her PP’s, I’m not sure I’ve seen a horse that has been scratched so many times for a race coming off the turf or being stuck on the AE list. She’s been a healthy scratch five times already this year alone, and three times since her last start. Here’s hoping the 4th times is a charm, as she tries to make her second start off the layoff. She’s a horse that is better after a few races, so she might need another race before she regains her best form. She’s never run on this course, but she was a winner last fall at the Meadowlands. She’s a horse to be looking for late in this one, so playing her underneath might be the way to go.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 Ticket:
I have some stronger opinions in this sequence, as there are three horses I could consider using as singles; Heals the Soul (#3, R3), Aequor (#5, R4), and No Valla (#6, R5). Heals the Soul and No Valla are competing against larger fields, so trips could be key. Assuming the 4th race stays intact in terms of the speed horses that are signed on, Aequor definitely has an edge. However, if there are one or more scratches of the front runners, I may consider upgrading one of them. This All A/B ticket gives me the flexibility to play some of the stronger opinions multiple times, while still offering solid coverage.
The Late Pick-5 begins with a conditioned $5K claiming race for fillies and mares. Let’s try a bomb here and use Unified Ride (#3) on top for Tony Wilson. Her form has been awful since shipping here from Tampa. However, she ran races there this spring that would be very competitive with this group. She tried two turns last out and wasn’t interested. She has caught some better fields for this condition and perhaps the cutback in distance will help her return to her better races. This time of year, we start seeing some Parx invaders pop up, as they take a four week break in Bensalem, PA. Twirling Wind (#2) comes to town, along with the services of the Parx based rider, Dexter Haddock. It’s been a long time since she’s found the Winner’s Circle. However, you have to go back to 2020 at Fort Erie to find her last win. While she fits on figures, I’d prefer to try another Parx shipper, Boca Royalty (#5) instead. She was a winner with $5K N1Y claimers at Parx back in March and she’s been close a few times since. Her recent speed figures are a little light, but perhaps a change of scenery will be helpful. I do like that she was re-claimed by Jorge Diaz after he lost her in April. Peacelovenkarma (#6) was a winner with time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claimers when catching a sloppy course here in her first start off a lengthy layoff. I don’t love the drop in class for her, however there’s not ton of open claiming races carded anymore, and there’s not many conditioned claiming races where she’d be eligible. She’s struggled to pair her best races, so regression is a possibility as well. I’ll cover with her because I do think the price will be lower than what I consider to be fair. Twirling Wind is one that I’ll save for underneath in the vertical exotics, hoping that we can connect with one of the biggest prices on top.
The third leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Handicap Series drew nine runners that will go 1 mile and ⅛, starting at the top of the turf chute. Last year’s winner of this race, Bode’s Maker (#1) is back to compete here, and he is strictly the one to beat in this spot. He has the right running style for the way this course has been playing lately. Rube Silvera has ridden him three times and all three of those races were wins. He won the second leg of this series, which was taken off the turf. He’s a 12 time winner who has earned two of those wins in two starts on this course. He’s listed as the second choice on the morning line, with Uncle Curly (#4) and Paco Lopez installed as the 3-1 favorite. If the betting plays out that way, I think the value is significantly better with Bode’s Maker, who I see as the most likely winner on this card. I worry Uncle Curly isn’t as effective at nine furlongs as he is at the mile or the 1 mile and 1/16 distances. Rough Sea (#5) doesn’t race on the turf often, but he’s made the most of his two trips on this course, winning both of those races. He won the opening leg of this series when going one mile. I played against him that day because I thought that race was a little too short for him. I have no qualms about the distance, but all things being even, I think Bode’s Maker is the better horse. I’ll back up with Rough Sea because I think the value is better there as opposed to Paco’s mount.
This race is an optional $25K claiming/N2X allowance for three year olds and up, dashing five furlongs on the dirt, This race is designed to be a prep for the Rumson Stakes on 9/3 at this same five furlong distance on the dirt. This is a bit of a specialty distance where horses like Unprecedented (#2), Ego Man (#3), and Feast (#8) all have multiple wins at this trip. One point of frustration for me is that DRF lumps 5 and 5 and ½ furlong races (both on turf and on dirt) together as the same distance in their print version (not in Formulator which is even more bizarre). As a result, the first thing that catches my eye in the print version of the DRF is that Unprecedented is 5 for 6 at the distance. However, that is not true, and when you see that all of his best work has come on synthetics, he becomes a tough sell for me. Feast was a winner in this race and came back to win the Rumson last year, but he doesn’t appear to be the same horse that he was last year. I was disappointed in his effort last week with conditioned claimers, so running him back in nine days feels counterproductive. Ego Man has two wins at this distance and comes into this race in very good form for Haleem Lee. He tired late at this level last out to finish second. The cutback from six to five furlongs should help him here. However, there’s likely going to be an all out scramble for the lead, and he looks to be in the middle of speed, which is always a tricky spot to be. I’ll use him, along with Foolish Ghost (#7), who should be in that early mix. Both runners make sense from a class and ability standpoint and neither would be a shock. However, horses coming over the top on the outside did pretty well yesterday, so I’m thinking that Our Pride N Joy (#5) could be that horse today. He was very good in three races on this oval last season, clearing the N1X condition at long odds back in September. He was away until returning on grass here at the end of May, where he finished last at this level. He’s been away since and he could very well need this race. However, he does like this course and he has enough tactical speed to stay within striking distance of some of the speedballs here. At 15-1 or better, I’ll take a chance that he could be flying late.
Race 9, The $100K Tyro Stakes:
14 two year olds are entered in this five furlong turf sprint, but only 12 will go. George Weaver won the Colleen yesterday with Amidst Waves, and he sends out both No Nay Mets (#2) and Please Advise (#4) in this race. I think both are live, but No Nay Mets coming back will Royal Ascot will be over bet. His debut was sharp when winning a $100K stakes race at Gulfstream for two year olds back in May. While the runner-up came back to win, I’m not sure that was the deepest field he beat that day. He finished in the middle of the pack when trying his luck at Royal Ascot. He fits from a class perspective, but there are so many horses in here and I’m not convinced he’s better than everyone. Ship Cadet (#11) is going to be tough, while getting back on grass after a distant second place finish in the Tremont. Gold Sweep is a highly regarded two year old, and he came back to finish second to Yo Yo Candy, a horse that Ship Cadet beat, in the Grade 3 Sanford at the start of the Saratoga meet. He came from off the pace to win his debut at Belmont and could get the right kind of stalking trip here. Shea D World (#7) is one of two runners in this race from the freshman crop of World of Trouble. So far, his runners have sprinted on grass five times, winning twice and finishing in the money in their other three starts. While his debut win was a strong race on the dirt, I can see him being better on the turf. Please Advise (#4) is the other George Weaver runner in this race, although he did not name a rider, which is a bit of curiosity. He was very sharp winning his debut on the grass at Belmont. His dam has foaled multiple winners and horses sired by Palice Malice are holding their own on the grass, winning 15% of the time with turf starters. No Nay Mets is a backup for me in this spot, as is the Canterbury invader, Whatdoyouthinmark (#14). He has to score from post 12 if he runs. He will likely need two defections for him to race. He was blistering fast on the dirt when making his debut in Minnesota. Larry Rivelli, who saddled the runner up in the Kentucky Derby this year, gets the assignment.
$12,500-$10,500 maiden claimers will sprint six furlongs in the nightcap. I’m not sold that Aunt Berra (#6) can run back to her last race.She’ll take a lot of money with Paco Lopez riding, but I think she’s vulnerable. I’ll use Sugar Sin (#4), who has been getting close in her last two tries at this level. Leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez had two more wins yesterday and he’ll send out this daughter of Danzing Candy today. She drops a level and returns to the main track, both of which feel like favorable moves. Holy Skull (#5) wanted no parts of the two turn races that she’s tried. However, her one try at this distance was her best. She ran on well from the back of the pack to get into 4th. The route to sprint angle is strong for Bennett’s horses, winning 25% of the time.
Top Pick Winners: 68/300 (22.7%) – $480.60/$1.60 ROI
We might have seen the performance of the meet yesterday afternoon from Occult. This Chad Brown filly was favored in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks and she did not disappoint her backers. She drew off to win a competitive race by over 10 lengths. She handled two turns without an issue and looked like she could have gone farther. I know how much respect Chad Brown for NYRA’s history, so even though the Alabama is only three weeks away, I would think she’d be under consideration for that race. If not, The Grade 1 Cotillion in September would be a likely landing spot for this promising filly.
Feargal Lynch, who got the mount on Occult, also won the Colleen Stakes with Amidst Waves, who stretched her turf record to 2-2 with a strong win. I’d think a race like the Bolton Landing at Saratoga, would be a very likely next stop.
Paco Lopez was thrown from a mount at the start of the 4th race. He was slow to get up, and did not ride his mount in the 5th. However, it was back to work as usual after that race for him. The horse Dixie Groove also appeared to be unharmed, as she continued to run without the rider.
One other item of interest to keep in mind, next Saturday, 8/5, Monmouth Park is hosting a $500 NHC/BCBC Qualifer tournament. It’s a hybrid format, but there is a 25% purse bonus for those that win if they’re playing on track. All races from Monmouth and Saratoga are fair game, but there is a five race, $50 minimum to be wagered on the Monmouth races. More information can be found on the Monmouth park website.