Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 7/9/22 – By Eric Solomon

The Saturday card at Monmouth Park offers 10 races, highlighted by the Jersey Girl Handicap for New Jersey bred fillies and mares, going one mile on the turf. All of the odd numbered races this afternoon are carded for the lawn. There were some showers forecasted overnight and into the morning, but a lot of the heavier rain looks like it might have gone south of here. If the races are taken off the grass, I’ll add some opinions for each race once scratches are announced. 

 

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

 

 

Race 1:

The first race of the afternoon is a New Jersey bred maiden special weight contest for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course. Big Lee’s Legacy (#4) makes a lot of sense here for trainer James Frangella. She ran three weeks ago against the boys in a state bred maiden special weight sprint on the turf. That was her first race of the year, so that seemed like a race designed to set her up for this race. She hit the board in all three of her turf routes last year in state bred maiden special weight company. I thought she ran a big race to be third at the end of the meet here last year. She broke from post 12 against a strong field of Jersey bred males that afternoon. She faces a fairly soft group for this condition today and should be in prime position to graduate. Her Name is Lola (#1) was done in by a poor start at this level last out. The fact that Gonzalez was able to stay on this filly after that break was a victory in and among itself. She was racing near the back of the pack and still ran on well late to get into 5th, less than four lengths behind the winner. Jorge Vargas will pilot her in this race, where she figures to have some upside. Postino’s Prophecy (#6) is another runner that makes sense here, finishing second in the same race that My Name is Lola is coming out of. That was her first career try at two turns on the turf, and she looked comfortable doing so. Her two career turf tries are better than her two career dirt efforts. However, she might be a little overbet here, so the value may lie elsewhere. 

Race 2:

Three year olds going six furlongs in this optional $40K claiming/$40K starter allowance race for horses that have not cleared the N1X condition. This is a nice six horse race where you could certainly make a case for many of the runners. Brittany Russell is a trainer that hasn’t started many (if any) horses here, but she’s been tearing it up in Maryland. She ships Raise a Speights (#5) here after fading late in a one mile allowance race at Delaware. He’s been on the front end in his last three starts, but he showed in his debut that he can run well coming from off the pace as well. His figures are steadily improving and I think the six furlong distance will be just right for him. I do worry about getting caught in a potential duel with Senate Chamber (#1), who’s one of two horses trained by Jerry Hollendorfer here. If that develops, I think the runner that might be suited to take advantage of that is Aztec (#4) making his third career start today. He won on debut at this distance at Gulfstream in a maiden/optional claiming race there. He tried state bred allowance company at two turns on the Tapeta and finished last of six. Kathleen O’Connell ships him north while retaining the services of Paco Lopez. I think he could get first run on Forty Stripes (#2) who is the closer in this race. I’ll be trying to beat that one here, as I think he’s a bounce candidate. He dropped into a conditioned claiming race to get his second career win, and his first win in his last win his last ten tries. He ran a career top figure that day but has regressed in every other start after setting a new career mark. I will cover Hollendorfer’s other runner, Senate Chamber, who is making his third career start. He came back off the layoff and ran a huge race win with $40K-$30K maiden claimers. They’ll move him to a protected spot today when facing winners for the first time. If he can come back to that effort, he might just be faster than these.

Race 3:

$20K-$18K N3L claimers take to the turf in this 5 and ½ furlong sprint. This race is all about The Predicament (#8) for me. He makes his third start off the layoff and is reunited with trainer, Andrew Simoff. Simoff is typically based at Delaware, but his horses are definitely live when they ship here. He has a win with three starters at this meet so far this year. In 2021, he started seven runners at Monmouth, with five of them ending up in the Winner’s Circle. He had his picture taken with this one last September when he beat $30K-$25K N2L claimers when going five furlongs on this course. He came up a little short at this distance in his last start at Gulfstream with a much stronger group. He drops in class and tries 5 and ½ furlongs on grass for the first time, which I think will suit him well. On deeper tickets, and underneath, Big Wonder (#2) is a horse that might offer some value, while shipping in from New York. He’s taking a significant drop in class while switching circuits and dropping from $35K N3L claimers. He was 6th beaten five lengths last out in a race last week where there’s no time and speed figure listed. His effort at long odds wasn’t terrible though, and I find that when you see races like this in the racing form (with no assigned speed figure or time to go off of), bettors tend to discount those horses. His trainer, Naipaul Chatterpaul, doesn’t win often, while mostly training on the NYRA circuit. He fits with this group on figures though and is worth including if he’s cold on the board. 

Race 4:

It’s going to be hard to look past the recent success of Rough Sea (#1) in this optional $16K claiming/$8K starter allowance race going 1 mile and 1/16. He was a 40-1 winner of the $100K Native Diver Stakes three starts back at Laurel. He backed that effort up with a win in a very salty $8K starter allowance race at Parx in his next start. He was third most recently when going 1 mile and ½ on the dirt at that level. He cuts back in distance and looks to tower over this field in his recent form. However, he’s nine years old, and his figures are starting to drop. His figures prior to that would make him competitive at this level, but not a slam dunk by any means. He also might find himself pace compromised in this race, as there’s not much early speed signed on. I will be using him, but I’ll be trying Exchequer (#3) on top here. He was the lone speed when beating a field of time restricted $8K-$7K claimers last month. He got a very heady ride by Angel Rodriguez that day, and he powered hom to win by over four lengths. He was a horse that has struggled to get back to his better form, but he was a horse that was able to stay good last season when he got there. Patricia Farro lost him via claim two back and re-claimed him for the same tag last out. He may be tough to catch once again, despite the bump in class. 

Race 5:

The Win-Early Pick-5 sequence wraps up with another 5 and ½ turf sprint, this one for conditioned $16K-$14K claimers. I made a case for Merokee (#5) at this level last out at long odds, and he ran a decent 4th, beaten less than two lengths. I’m going to back him again today, as he gets a major rider switch to Angel Rodriguez for his third start of the meet. He was all but eliminated at the break two starts back and then had trouble on the back side as well. I liked that he was still finishing with interest in that race, where many young horses, especially at a level like this, are likely to throw in the towel. He was right there with Jama Dillon (#8) that day, who was finishing well along the rail, while Merokee was wide. I think he’s got more upside than many of these and can get the job here. Mach One (#2) dropped into the level on the dirt here last month and was caught late, finishing second by just under two lengths. He’s 0-6 on the turf in his career, but his efforts on a firm course with better horses are solid. Chief Reider (#9) draws wide for his first start of the year for Kathleen DeMasi. She has very good numbers with horses coming back off long layoffs, and he’s well spotted here after narrowly missing with similar at Penn National to end his 2021 season. He’s been working well locally and figures to be the best of the speed types in here. On deeper tickets, Jama Dillon is worth using. He’s consistent enough, typically running the same race in these turf sprints on this course. He is definitely better at the 5 and ½ furlong distance as opposed to 5 furlongs. If Mach One or one of the horses moving to the turf for the first time can force the issue up front, he’ll stand a better chance to run by them all late. 

Win-Early Pick-5: $36 Ticket

I really like The Predicament (#8, R3) as a single in the middle of this sequence. Andrew Simoff only ships here when he has a live runner that fits a condition well, and that is the case with this one, who was a winner on this course last season.  I think from a value standpoint, trying to get him home as a single could be the play. Rough Sea (#1, R4) is cross-entered as a main track only runner today at Parx, but if he runs, he’ll likely be the shortest price in the sequence. I’ll include him, but I think Exchequer (#3, R4) is very dangerous as the lone speed threat in that race. Most tickets will use the favorite in that race, so if we can beat him with the right horse, that should open up this ticket for a solid return. 

Race 6:

The Late Pick-5 sequence starts with a conditioned $5K claiming race for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs. Seahawk Lisa (#5) is the pick for me here. She drops to the bottom for her third start off the layoff after struggling with better last out. She won two straight races on this oval in September last year, running in lower level claiming races. She should get a decent trip, sitting off the early pace of R Love On the Run (#4), who I think she can catch in the later stages of this race. R Love On the Run was a heavy favorite in a five furlong dash at this level, but she stumbled at the start and was steadied while trying to get to the front. She’s a definite front runner, so that was about as disastrous of a break as she could have had. She’s likely to offer better odds than the 4-5 she’s gone off at in her last two tries. While she was a winner at this distance two back when clearing the N2L condition, I do think she’ll struggle to hold on, if she’s pressured more up front. Shackleford County (#1) is a claim and drop runner for Jose Delgado, which is a move that I often struggle with as a handicapper. Financially, a win and claim would offer a small profit for this one, however, she hasn’t won a race since October of 2020. I’ll cover with her from a class standpoint, but I think there’s value in trying to beat her. 

Race 7:

The third 5 and ½ furlong turf sprint of the afternoon is an open $12,500-$10,500 claiming contest for fillies and mares. What makes this race tricky is that only one of the nine runners in this race last raced on the grass. It’s not very creative, but Odramark (#6) looks like she’s going to be very tough in this race. She’s coming off three starter allowance races at Gulfstream on the synthetic at 1 mile and 70 yards. She was an impressive winner in N1X allowance company at this distance on this course last season. Breen has struggled with horses coming off the 61-180 day layoffs, and while I don’t love the drop in class, I’m just not seeing many other viable alternatives. Daddy’s Joy (#8) would be a logical runner to include, as she’s the only runner coming off a turf race. However, that was a two turn mile at Gulfstream. She does have sprint experience and was a winner at five furlongs on the grass when breaking her maiden. There are other speed types in here, so I’d like to see Samy Camacho get her to rate kindly in order to give her the best chance. On deeper tickets, Captain Sam (#4) might be better suited for five furlong sprints, as she was caught late on a softer course at that distance at Penn National two back. If the other speed doesn’t go with her, she could make a break for it at the top of the stretch.

Race 8:

Three year old fillies sprint six furlongs in this N1X allowance race. This looks like a race where the early pace could definitely be lively, so if closers are able to make up ground on this track, I think Kingdom Queen (#7) has a reasonable shot to score her second win of the meet. She won on opening day for John McAllen, who has failed to reach the Winner’s Circle since. However, she has improved at this meet, most recently running second to Oxana in an optional claiming/N3X allowance race against some better fillies and mares. The pace scenario was not favorable for her that day, and I don’t think there’s a filly as talented as Oxana in this race. The horses she finished in front of that day are all older fillies and mares and all would likely be favored in this spot if they were eligible. I think she’ll be overlooked because of her connections, but I believe she is a major player in this race, and one that I would consider using as a single, assuming the track is playing fairly. R Funny Bizness (#3) was claimed by Darien Rodriguez who has excellent numbers first off the claim. She broke her maiden for a tag in the slop, so this becomes a big step up in class for her. She’ll also have to prove that she can build off a career best effort, and do so on a fast track. Drifarios (#4) won a salty maiden special weight race here kast month for three year old fillies, while making her second career start and her first since December. If she can build off that gutsy effort, she’ll be tough in this field where some of the others have shown that they will pack it in once they are passed. 

Race 9: The $100K Jersey Girl Handicap

It’s very hard for me to look past Bramble Bay (#7) while getting back on the turf this afternoon for trainer Mike Dini in this handicap for New Jersey bred fillies and mares. Dini only has one win with 45 starters at the current meet, but that low percentage is in part because in certain instances, like with this mare, the condition book has not worked in his favor. This New Jersey bred daughter of Bullet Train has done her best work on the grass. However, she cleared the open N2X allowance condition in her last turf start three back at Tampa. There’s not a ton of options for her to race on turf locally without being offered for a tag. As a homebred and future broodmare prospect, I don’t think Ballybrit Stables is interested in losing her to a claim at this point in her career. As a result, she’s run in the last two New Jersey bred handicap races on the dirt, finishing third in the slop in the Spruce Fir Handicap two back and off the board in the Smart N Classy Handicap at one mile on a fast course. This is the first stakes race of the meet for state bred fillies and mares on the grass, which fits her very kindly. She lost in photos in the Pinot Grigio Handicap and this race last year on grass. This field is lighter than last year’s running of this race and this might be the only time all year where she’ll get to face state bred company on the grass. Paco Lopez gets the call and I expect him to take full advantage today.

Race 10:

The Saturday nightcap is another conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race, this one for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. Valuable Breigh (#6) was a gate to wire winner with conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claimers last out. However, that track was playing kind to front end speed and Isaac Castillo was very aggressive with her from the gate to secure a clear early lead. She was able to hold on all the way, with her victory never in doubt. I think for many reasons, her assignment will be much tougher this afternoon. Isaac Castillo is on the sidelines at the moment with an injury, and while Samy Camacho is a very capable replacement, he’s been cold lately after a strong start to the meet. I also think there’s no way that Angel Rodriguez, who is a rider upgrade on Along The Way (#5), is going to concede that early position, unless someone inside of this runner is going to commit to the front. Save the Flag (#3) could be that horse, dropping back in for a tag after a pair of races where she was protected under the $16K starter allowance condition at Parx. She’ll be asked to go two turns for the first time in her career, however, her best career effort came at seven furlongs, so there’s reason to believe that she can handle the added distance. Darien Rodriguez has a decent track record with horses going from sprints to routes. Maarty’s Dilemma (#1) was my pick in her last race, thinking that she could improve for her new connections after a tough trip in her local debut. She didn’t break cleanly though, and was pace compromised on a speed favoring track. She finished second, but was never getting to Valuable Breigh in that race. These are the two that are most desirable here for me. 

 

Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners: 63/229 (27.5%) – $516.10/ $2.25 ROI 

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