Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 7/31/21 – By Eric Solomon

The Saturday card is highlighted by the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, for three year old fillies, at 1 Mile and 1/16 on the main track. While the recent list of winners of this race has not been that impressive, there is plenty of history with this race. Eleven champion three year old fillies have won this race since it’s modern inception in 1946, including names like Desert Vixen, Gallant Bloom, and Silverbulletday to name a few. In 2000 and 2001, this race produced consecutive winners of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Spain and Unbridled Elaine. While I’m not sure there are any future champions in this year’s field, a nice nine horse field has been assembled. That race will also kick off the Cross-Country Pick-5, with the post time scheduled for 4:33 PM (ET).

Race A B C Exotics Menu
1 1   8 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 2,4 8   DBL, PK3, PK4
3 3,5 7,8 4 DBL, PK3
4 7 1 4 DBL, PK3
5 4,5 3,6   DBL, PK3
6 6   4 DBL, PK3
7 1,7 3,5   DBL, PK3, PK6
8 3,4,6     DBL, PK3, PK5
9 5 1,8 2,4 DBL, PK3, PK4
10 2,3 9   DBL, PK3
11 4 6   DBL
12 4,6,7      






Race 1: Top Pick 1:

While the $16K-$14K N4L condition has been very competitive at this meet thus far, this is not one of the strongest heats in that division. Three of the eight entered on the turf are eligible for the N3L condition, and while that doesn’t mean those horses are automatic tosses, I don’t think the N3L races have been nearly as strong as the N4L races. Strong Gem (1) is the logical pick and the most likely winner of this race. Toss her last when she didn’t run a step on the dirt in race that was rained off the turf. She didn’t run a step in her only other dirt race either. She has improved considerably in her last three turf tries, clearing the N3L claiming condition while racing with a $25K tag. She was claimed by Douglas Nunn, whose barn is starting to heat up at this meet, and he has good numbers first off the claim. She looks like the one to beat in this field. Perhaps the other horse to use on deeper tickets is Towa (8) who was third, beaten six lengths here last week when facing open $12,500 claimers on the grass. She stalked a slow pace last out and was outfinished by a pair of better horses in that race. She has some tactical early speed, but she’s not alone in that department, so I don’t think she’ll get an easy early lead. However, she has been competitive in restricted claiming races, and she has hit the board in four her last five turf races. The one start where she wasn’t in the money, she stumbled and lost the rider at the break.


Race 2: Top Pick: 2

Multi-conditioned claimers run one mile, while racing with a $25K-$20K tag. V.I.P. Who (2) and American Fleet (4) are the only multiple race winners in this field and I believe these three year olds have the upper hand on their opponents in this spot. I prefer V.I.P. Who as my top pick, as he’s undefeated in his two starts going two turns. He’ll have to improve a bit, however, he rallied from off the pace in those races, and won both starts by open lengths. To me that suggests that he has plenty more to give. I think there’s some speed in here to ensure an honest pace for him to close into. American Fleet is one that will likely be on or near the early lead. Her only two dull efforts both came against significantly better fields, while facing optional claiming/N1X allowance foes in Maryland and Delaware. Jamie Ness has hit the board with six of seven horses he’s started at this meet thus far, and his regular jockey at Parx, Frankie Pennington, is in to ride. It’s Mandatory (8) is one to consider for deeper tickets. He only has one win in 24 career starts on the racetrack. However, he has been knocking on the door in a variety of races. He makes his third overall start and the first one on the main track since being claimed by Jeffery Englehart.


Race 3 Top Pick: 3

This turf sprint is loaded with speed, and I think some of the shorter priced horses are a little vulnerable. This feels like a definite spread race to me. I’m going to take a swing with Affluential (3) to pull a sizeable upset here. He makes his second start off the layoff, and will likely have to come from last to first to get the job done here. However, there is a lot of speed signed on in this race, as the top four horses in terms of morning line odds, all have the same front running style. I think all four might be better at 5 Furlongs as opposed to 5 and ½ Furlongs, which they’re getting here. He’s never sprinted on the turf before, but he has some efforts that could be competitive here, especially if the heavy hitters duel each other into submission. I really like the effort from Johnny Obvious (5) here at this level two starts ago when going 5 Furlongs on the turf. He just missed in a competitive heat that day, battling Dugout (8), putting him away, before yielding in the final strides to a late closing Mr. Edgar. The winner came back to be a game second to Duncastle (7) last week when facing open $22K-$18K claimers. Johnny Obvious looks to be headed back to his better turf form that we saw from him in 2019, before going on an extended layoff. He was claimed by Jose Delgado last out in a solid of the turf effort where he finished 3rd. Duncastle has been in good form of late, but does drop into the $12,500-$10,500 claiming level. He was claimed for $25K three starts ago, so I don’t love this drop. However, his current form speaks for itself, so I will be covering him. Dugout makes his third start off the layoff and his third start since being claimed by Patricia Farro. He was very good when running for Larry Rivelli earlier in his career so there’s reason to think he has another forward move. He draws the widest of all the early speed, which could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it. Monte Ne (4) is the morning line favorite based off of some big efforts at Gulfstream earlier in the year. He has been away for three months, and Breen’s horses tend to need a race off these shorter layoffs. I also think he’s another one that would prefer this race to be at 5 Furlongs. My gut tells me that he’s going to struggle in the stretch here. I’ll cover him on some deeper multi-race exotics and I’ll try to beat him in the verticals.


Race 4: Top Pick: 7

There are three shorter priced horses in this $10K maiden claiming race at 5 Furlongs on the main track. Of them, I prefer the Belmont shipper and morning line favorite, Hotel Charlie (7). He has two respectable efforts with New York breds in maiden claiming company over at Aqueduct this spring. He faltered at the one turn mile at Belmont in his most recent effort. Bruce Levine, who is the co-owner and former trainer, had him shipped here and the trainer of record is now Jose Delgado. Paco Lopez taking the mount certainly doesn’t hurt either. Wicked Rebel (1) is a rare Lone Star Park shipper that shows up at the Jersey Shore. He was second with $6,250 maiden claimers last out in Texas. His few dirt efforts likely make him a factor at this level here, however, I don’t love the five furlong distance for him. Hey Hey Harley (4) will likely be overbet off a solid seasonal debut when he was second to Relator Danny D, who was a popular 2-5 winner at this level two weeks ago. The track came up muddy, and other than the favorite, no one else really showed up in that race. The improvement from his three year old form was solid, but how much the wet track aided that improvement remains to be seen.


Race 5: Top Pick: 5

This is another turf sprint that feels like a wide open affair. San Antone (5) gets back on the grass and finds a $16K-$14K multi-conditioned claiming field where he is the only horse in the race with multiple wins. His lone start on the turf was a 6 length romp in a sprint at Pimlico last fall in maiden special weight company for two year olds. I’m not sure who he beat that day and I’m not sure why it’s taken him so many starts to get back on the grass, but this is not the strongest field for the condition. He was not involved in a contentious dirt race last out at Delaware where the early pace was torrid. Mobeatyabad, who did a lot of the heavy lifting in that race, came back to win yesterday at Delaware, and the winner, Spotted Bull, had a miserable trip in the same race to be 4th. I think the switch to the turf will prove to be helpful for this one. Sand Dune (4) is probably the one to beat in this race. He showed some interest in sprinting on the turf last year on this course in his three year old campaign. He faced tougher in Sunday, and he’s shown that he can improve when running back on short rest. On deeper tickets, Dreaming Thousand (3) showed some interest in a few turf starts this winter down at Gulfstream. He’s gone off form since joining the Joseph Taylor barn. Taylor has had some success with limited starters at the meet, and he’s had a decent year, primarily operating at Parx. This will be his third start in 20 days. Choclate Bodie (6) ran well in his lone turf start, which ended his five year old campaign last year. He’s a lightly raced six year old gelding that could be upgraded on the grass in this spot. I’d still demand value, as his last few races have not been the best.


Win-Early Pick 5 – $48.00 Ticket

Race 1: 1

Race 2: 2, 4, 8

Race 3: 3, 5, 7, 8

Race 4: 1, 7

Race 5: 3, 4, 5, 6


Race 6: Top Pick: 6

As races in this optional claiming/N2X condition go, this is not the strongest group. Half of the field has done most of their career damage in state bred company, but they have struggled somewhat in open company. Violent Trick (6) just missed with open claimers two weeks ago at Saratoga. She’s run two sharp efforts since being claimed by Potts at Belmont three starts back. She ran some sharp races back in 2020 prior to going off form before being claimed. Potts seems to have her on the right track, and I believe the open $12,500 claiming field she faced at the Spa was sharper than this group. On deeper tickets, Reina La Kelsy (4) makes some sense, as she’s been steadily improving with her speed figures over the last several races. She was 73-1 in a much tougher heat at this level two starts back, and she was 104-1 in the Molly Pitcher two weeks ago on Haskell Day. Trainer Melvin Ovando hasn’t hit the board with a horse in 2021, and this mare may have been his last winner as a trainer in 2020. However, this is some major class relief for a horse that isn’t in awful form at the moment.


Race 7: Top Pick: 1

The Jersey Shore 6 starts with the third turf sprint on the card, this one for maiden claiming fillies and mares running with a $16K-$14K tag. At 8-1, I’m going to wager that the last race from Charliv (1) was too bad to be true. Mike Trombetta brings her back, and drops her slightly to this level where she finds a very soft field. I thought her turf debut with better at Pimlico was respectable and perhaps the good course earlier in the month was not to her liking. That’s Just Hearsay (7) dueled in her turf debut before fading late to finish 4th, beaten 5+ lengths in the same race that Charliv was a no-show in. There’s not a ton of speed signed on in this spot and she may also take a step forward in her second turf try on a firmer course. Little Red Button (3) has had many chances to break her maiden, but continues to come up short in New York. She takes a significant drop in class today and cuts back to a sprint on the turf for the first time in a while. She was a decent third when facing New York bred boys two back on the grass going longer at Belmont. Prominent Henny (5) has one start on the dirt, which was ok. She showed some early zip before backing out to finish 4th, beaten 7+ lengths. The pedigree doesn’t scream turf and Carvajal does not have great numbers with turf sprinters or horses making their first start on the turf. Paco Lopez gets the mount today, which likely limits the actual value that you’ll get on her today.


Race 8: Top Pick: 3

The late Pick-5 starts with a $5K multi-conditioned claiming race at 6 Furlongs. The heavy favorite on the morning line is Runaway Lute (6) who is another yet NYRA ship and drop horse from the Wayne Potts barn. Paco Lopez has starting riding some of Potts horses over the last few weeks and has been quite successful in doing so, winning five of nine races when teaming up. However, at 3-2 on the morning line, I just don’t see any value here, especially coming off a pair of dull efforts at Belmont. I’ll use him on the multi-race tickets, but I’m looking for a price here with Cobh (3) at 10-1 (ML). He just missed at this level at Pimlico in April, finishing three lengths in front of Mystic Times (5) that day (who is 7-2 on the morning line today). He was off for two and a half months and resurfaced in a strong claiming race on the grass for open $12,500-$10,500 claimers, where he finished last. He cuts back to a dirt sprint where he figures to be more competitive. Brimstone (4) makes his third start of the month at the level, just missing two weeks ago here at 8-1. He has tactical early speed and could wind up on the lead, depending on how much speed we see from Kong Style (2), off the long layoff, and Runaway Lute. He improved as the meet rolled on last year, winning at this level last July. Nik Juarez keeps the mount, which is encouraging, as he typically rides for Kelly Breen, who trains Kong Style.


Race 9: The Tale of the Cat Stakes: Top Pick: 5

This stakes race on the grass for three year olds features a very competitive eight horse field. I’m going to side with It’s a Gamble (5) who was the winner of the Jersey Derby, which was washed off the turf on opening day. He was 4th in the Manila behind a pair of nice horses, Original and Public Sector, both of who would likely be heavy favorites in this race. He caught a good course that day and was cutting back to one turn race after several two turn efforts. I thought he effort to be a close second in the Woodhaven at Aqueduct three starts back was solid, as he finished in front of Original that day. It Can Be Done (1) has the rail for his third start of the meet, running up the track as the beaten favorite in the Jersey Derby, and finishing a 4th along the rail when cutting back to a sprint in the My Frenchman Stakes three weeks ago. I think he’s better a two turns, but I liked his effort last time out on the yielding course here. Jose Ferrer gets back aboard this three year old Temple City gelding who was a stakes winner here last season. Eamonn (8) might be the up and comer in this race. He shipped to Delaware to try graded stakes company in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes four weeks ago, after three strong efforts on the grass in South Florida. He caught a soft course that day and ran into a buzzsaw, beaten by Yes This Time who won his 5th consecutive turf race that day, and is scheduled to try Grade 1 company next weekend in the Saratoga Derby. Joe Orseno has been able to improve his form considerably since claiming him off of Todd Pletcher back in February. Founder (4) for Chad Brown is the likely favorite in this race when they go to post. He’s a $600K son of Upstart who won in his debut in the slop at Saratoga last August, but hasn’t done so since. He has one turf race where he was beaten by Public Sector and Original in allowance company at Belmont. He showed very little early foot that day, and he may be coming from last to try to win this race. His two best races have come in the slop though, and I’m not wanting to take a short price on him when there are others that are more accomplished in this field. I’ll use him on deeper tickets, but I’ll try to beat him in the vertical wagers. King of Dreams (2) is another one that will likely receive a decent amount of support at the windows. He has the best early foot in the field, as both of his wins have been wire to wire performances down at Gulfstream. He struggled on a yielding course there last month, beaten as the heavy favorite in the Not Surprising. A dryer course would help his case here. I don’t think he’ll get an easy early lead with some of the others that are signed on, but I’ll cover with him on some deeper tickets, as he could be dangerous if that scenario plays out.


Race 10: The Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks: Top Pick: 3

John Servis starts a pair of fillies that were second and third to the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 3rd, when they were beaten by the talented filly, Crazy Beautiful. I think both fillies are the ones to beat, but I slightly prefer Leader of the Band (3). She was improving in sprint races at Parx this spring, earning a chance to compete in grade stakes company after a dominating seven furlong win in optional claiming/allowance company two starts back. She settled in last in the Delaware Oaks, a ways off a pace that wasn’t very sharp, she passed some horses with a rail rally to get up for third, 2 and ¾ lengths behind her stablemate, Midnight Obsession (2). I think she’s drawn better today and should be able to stay closer to the early leaders if the pace isn’t strong. She proved that she can run from off the pace though if the stretch out sprinters in here go too fast early. Midnight Obsession is the 3-1 morning line favorite in here, getting the services of Paco Lopez for her local debut. She beat PA bred maiden special weight fillies in her debut at Parx in March, but showed that she has some quality when she was a 12-1 optional claiming/allowance winner at Belmont in her second career try. She was a close second in the Lyphard Stakes for PA breds. She faced older horses in that race, which was taken off the turf and run on a very sloppy course at Penn National. She finished in front of the other seven fillies she was up against in her most recent try in the Delaware Oaks. She has four starts and has never caught a fast track, which should change today. Edie Meeny Miny Mo (9) is the definite wild card in this spot. She has two career starts at Pimlico, going 6 Furlongs, and was never challenged in either, winning both by open lengths. She draws the outside post and has Victor Espinoza named to ride her in her stakes and route debut. She was a $400K purchase last year, so the expectations have always been there for this daughter of Upstart. I could see her winning this race by open lengths, but I could also see her struggling late and finishing up the track. She’s definitely a riskier proposition than the other two, but she could easily have the highest ceiling in the field.


Race 11: Top Pick: 4

The last turf race on the card is a solid optional claiming/N2X allowance field for fillies and mares, going 1 Mile and 1/16 using the chute. I think Bramble Bay (4) is strictly the one to beat in here, and one that I’m comfortable using as a single in the multi-race exotics. She’s a New Jersey bred that was a game third behind Kalifornia Queen at this level at Belmont in May. She ran in the Jersey Girl Stakes here two weeks ago, finishing a solid second in a race that was switched to the main track. She’s better on the grass and she was a two time winner at this meet last year. I think she’s sitting on a big race in her third start off the layoff, and you might get a little bit of value on her as the morning line favorite, Classic Lady (6) may be a bit vulnerable. Classic Lady won the Dayatthespa Stakes for New York breds last season at Saratoga and was a game third in the Yaddo at the end of the meet. She hasn’t run since and is making her seasonal debut this afternoon for Christophe Clement. She fired off the layoff in 2020, nearly winning the Mount Vernon on the turf. I am a little curious as to why she ended here though, as Clement doesn’t send a ton of horses to Monmouth. NYRA is not running the Dayatthespa Stakes this year, which leaves a gap between stakes races for fillies and mares in the New York bred turf division. She trains at Belmont, so shipping here might be slightly easier than shipping to Saratoga. However, there is a race at this condition tomorrow at the Spa, and I think if Clement thought she was fully cranked, she would be in that race, which carries a purse that is $45K more than this race. Maybe he’s looking to get her an easier race to prep for the Yaddo next month, but I think she might need this race, and Bramble Bay just might be a little sharper right now.

Race 12: Top Pick: 7

The battle for leading trainer between Wayne Potts and Jose Delgado is heating up, and a race like this showcases that, as both men send out a pair of runners in the $5K multi-conditioned sprint for fillies and mares. I think their horses are going to be the ones that decide the nightcap. I like Tuesday’s Rose (7) for Potts to pull off the mild upset. She looks like she was a private purchase that was moved from Jesus Cruz to Wayne Potts after rallying wide to finish third in her last start at Delaware. Potts brings her back to Monmouth, where she has never finished worse than second in four starts, winning two of those races. Her recent form is not the best, but neither is this field. Tuff Bird (6) keeps getting bet, but has yet to deliver a win at this meet. She just missed last week with $7,500-$6,500 N3L claimers, getting nailed on the wire by a 52-1 longshot. On the bright side, her figures keep improving after going off form, so Delgado is trying to keep her trending upward. He is 3 for 12 in the last 20 months with horses wheeling back in 1-7 days. Lolanita (4) is the morning line favorite with the potent Potts/Lopez connection, which could be primed for a big afternoon. Her recent form is not very good, but she is moving from a lower percentage barn off the claim to a barn that is winning at a 25% rate for the meet.


Meet Stats: 73/265 (Top Pick Winners) – $456.80 / $1.72 ROI per $2 win bet


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