Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 8/12/23 – By Eric Solomon

There’s no stakes races carded this afternoon as the Select Stakes, which was on the calendar for today, is now being run on the same card as the Oceanport Stakes tomorrow. There is still a very nice 10 race program, highlighted by a pair of optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance races on the grass. First post for the Saturday 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 5 1,5,6 9 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 1 1 6 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 2 2,4 9 DBL, PK3
4 11 3,10,11 DBL, PK3
5 2 2,4 DBL, PK3, PK6
6 8 7,8 DBL, PK3, PK5
7 5 2,5,6 1 DBL, PK3, PK4
8 4 4,8 7 DBL, PK3
9 3 3 2 DBL
10 7 7 2,5


Race 1:

The day gets started with a $16K-$14K maiden claiming race for three year olds and up, going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course. The rail will be slotted at 24 feet this afternoon for all five of the turf races on the card. There’s three significant class droppers that appear to be notably faster than their six rivals. I’m going to side with Get Khozy (#5), who appears to have a tactical advantage over Please Baby (#1) and Power of Nature (#6). There’s really not a lot of speed signed for this contest, so I think Samy Camacho will be able to get this one to the front end or keep him close, right behind some cheap speed. His two best races came on the turf at Gulfstream, and with the turf course being closed there, shipping him up here makes some sense. His trainer, Jose D’Angelo, saddled four winners on this course last season. Power of Nature is lightly raced and taking a steep drop in class for his third career start. He met a tough field when making his debut on grass in maiden special weight company two starts back. He tried the dirt in another above average maiden special weight race on dirt, on the Haskell undercard. He’d likely fit well in a $40K maiden claiming race and there is one in the condition book next week. While I don’t love that, he is one of only a few that look like they’re good enough to win this race. Please Baby has the best speed figures in this race, but has been coming up short at the $40K-$30K maiden claiming level. The drop makes sense for his 12th career start. He’s never really come close to winning a race though, and his deep closing style hasn’t been the best fit for this course of late. His rail position should allow Isaac Castillo to keep him closer to the front end than he’s been lately. While he fits on figures, he’s likely going to be a short price, and at 2-1 or lower, he’s a tough sell since he’s never come close to running a winning race. On deeper tickets, Dooq (#9) is the longer priced runner that intrigues the most in this field. Michael Pino has good numbers with horses moving from turf to dirt, and he’ll take over the training of this lightly raced gelding that hasn’t shown much in his first two dirt starts. The outside draw is not ideal and he might need this race, making his first start since the end of May and his first start at two turns. He’s sired by More Than Ready and his dam won her only career race in a two turn maiden allowance at Ellis. At 12-1 or better, he makes sense as a longshot try.


Race 2:

This $25K starter allowance for fillies and mares is also restricted to horses that have never won three times. I think Irie Empress (#1) makes a lot of sense in this race. She’s getting notable class relief, while still running in a protected spot. She has been facing N2X allowance types, and nearly pulled off the 28-1 upset at that level at Parx last month. Her form is up and down, but when she’s at the right level of competition, she typically runs a credible race. There is some speed to her outside, so I think Silvestre Gonzalez can work out a sweet stalking trip from her inside draw. I trust her more than the shorter prices that are either stretching out to two turns for the first time or better suited to the turf. She’s one that I’ll be using as a single on most of the multi-race wagers. I’ll back up with the morning line favorite, Alexa’s Dream (#6). She’s improved while racing on the turf, running third in state bred stakes company at Tampa three back. She is dropping in class after finishing a close 5th in N1X allowance company at Colonial in her last start. She broke her maiden in a dirt sprint and she’s excelled in two turn races on the turf. This race feels a little bit experimental, as she fits the conditions nicely. However, I don’t like to invest too much in favorites when they are experimenting with something new. 


Race 3:

Fillies and mares sprint 5 and ½ furlongs on the grass in this open $12,500-$10,500 claiming race. Threatlevelmidnite (#4) feels like the one to beat in this spot for Kieron Magee. She was claimed for this $12,500 tag two back while racing in optional claiming/starter allowance company. While this condition is always competitive at Monmouth, the fields she was facing in those races in Maryland were deeper than what she’s up against here. I do worry about how she finishes her races though, as she has not won a race in over two years. She might just be faster than these and she’s running for a higher percentage trainer. There is other speed in this race, so I’ll use her on the A line but I’ll try Ruvies in Time (#2) as the top pick. She has only two races on the turf, most recently finishing 4th with $32K claimers at Belmont. She is dropping in class for Darien Rodriguez, and she has proven that she can rate off the early speed and run a winning race on the dirt. As long as Samuel Marin avoids being too aggressive from the start, I think she could be the runner that is moving the best late. Mispelled Mooon (#9) takes the worst of the draw as she’s likely going to concede some ground loss going into the dogleg out of the chute here. However, she is making her third start off the layoff, and that was when she took a big step forward last year. She was claimed by a barn that is sharp first off the claim, and Elizabeth Dobles wisely keeps Jorge Vargas Jr. in the saddle, as he seems to have a good feel for this filly. 


Race 4:

Eight runners that ran in state bred maiden special weight races on 7/23 are back to face three first time starters in this New Jersey bred maiden allowance for two year olds going 5 and ½ furlongs. The 7/23 races were split into two divisions, run as the third and fifth races on that day. The 5th race was clocked a little faster, but the winner, Joeboy’s Jedi, romped home as much the best. The third race was a little more competitive and the second and third place finishers are back for this one. Legendary Thunder (#10) was about a length better than Electric Eel (#3) that day. Both horses ran solid races, and I don’t think either will be a maiden for too long. Electric Eel broke on top, but couldn’t quite keep pace with the pacesetters, thus losing his rail position. Paco Lopez was forced to bring him out into the five path where he drew even with Legendary Thunder and the longshot race winner, Midnight Story, who had a better trip. Legendary Thunder rushed up four wide to try to keep Lopez pinned in with Electric Eel. He came with a bold four wide bid, and took the lead, but couldn’t quite hold on. I do think it’s interesting that Paco Lopez opts to ride Legendary Thunder in this race after riding Electric Eel last out. Jairo Rendon, who has been the hottest jockey on the grounds over the last few weeks, picks up the mount on Electric Eel. I think both are legitimate win candidates, and price will play a role in how I’d bet them, but I expect both to be hammered at the windows. That could create some value with Charlie’s Express (#11) who will be my top pick in this race. Gregory Sacco’s runners tend to improve in their second career start, and moving to the outside stall should be beneficial for this son of Adios Charlie. He had a rough journey in his debut, breaking in the middle of the field. He was in tight a few times while in between runners. Isaac Castillo was forced to try to send him through that day, and while doing so, the inside horse started drifting out badly, putting him in the middle of the track. That left a gaping hole for Joeboy’s Jedi to go through as he ducked to the inside to avoid going to about the 8 or 9 path. Charlie’s Express got by the inside horse, but was spent as he backpedaled through the field. He was well backed at the windows that day and the outside draw today should allow him to be more comfortable. I think he has the best chance of upsetting the apple cart in this race. 


Race 5:

The second division of the $16K-$14K maiden claiming race that will bookend the Win-Early Pick-5 goes at this fifth race. This race doesn’t seem as deep as the opener and there are many warts that you’ll have to look past here. Ended up with with Logan’s Runner (#2) on top, getting back on the grass for the first time since his debut. Even though he was outclassed by maiden allowance runners at Aqueduct that day, that race was his career top Beyer figure. He’s run credible races going a similar distance on the main track at Parx and Delaware, while facing similar opposition. Michelle Castillo has tried to get him back on the turf, but both times he was entered on grass, those races were transferred to the main track. I think his inside draw gives him an edge over some of the short prices, and I can see him taking a step forward in this spot. Spartan Boy (#4) is a lightly raced three year old for Phil Aristone. He debuted in a similar spot and was a respectable 5th at Parx. He was a non-factor in an off the turf race at the end of June, and ran okay on the turf in a five furlong sprint last time out. I think he wants to go longer, so I’d expect him to have a forward move in this spot. Getting Paco Lopez to ride feels like a win, even though he has not been as sharp as he usually has over the last few weeks. He’s won at a 20% clip in the last 30 days, which is down from his 26% winning percentage at the meet. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 Ticket:

I’ve put together a $36 All A/B ticket that will be anchored by Irie’s Empress (#1, R2) as my single. I think she is a strong fit for that condition, getting significant class relief in a race where her main rivals seem to be better suited for other distances or surfaces. She’s the third choice in that race on the morning line, and there are some other live longshots in this sequence that could make this ticket pop.


Race 6:

The Late Pick-5 will start with a conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming race for fillies and mares going six furlongs. Bet of the Century (#2) is the only multiple winner in the field whereas the other seven runners qualified under the N2L condition. While that filly is coming off a strong effort at Parx, that was a weak field for that condition, and I’m thinking that at short odds, I’m not confident in her ability at this distance. I think she’s better suited for longer one turn races. Throwback (#8) moves to the Jose Camejo barn after a pair of dull local tries for Mike Dini. She had no interest in the grass two back and was overmatched against a significantly better field in her most recent try. Camejo has struggled at this meet, winning only one time with 40 starters so far. However, he gives this one the necessary drop in class and adds blinkers. I think her outside draw is a plus as well. Stephanie My Love (#7) has been able to start putting some things together after eight forgettable races to start her career. She has improved since coming to the Jersey Shore this summer for leading trainer, Claudio Gonzalez. She closed well to be second behind a runaway winner at this condition last out when making her first start against winners. Her maiden score two back was solid, and I think she fits well with this group today.


Race 7:

The co-featured race today is an optional $30K/N2X allowance race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. Uncorked (#5) was excellent when handily beating an above average N1X allowance field here two starts back. After taking a field from gate to wire in her North American debut at Delaware in May, she showed a totally different dimension when she closed with a powerful kick to win by 2+ lengths. Toss her last race at this level which was rained off the grass at Laurel. I think she’ll get a favorable trip where she might be able to get the jumbo on Customer List (#2), who is the morning line favorite for Chad Brown. She came with a furious late rally to beat N1X foes two starts back on this course. Chad Brown tried stakes company with her when sending her to the Perfect Sting Stakes at the beginning of July. She finished last of five in that one turn mile. She comes back to the site of both of career wins and she should have a more honest pace to close into in this race, seeing as how speed horses like Blue Times (#8) and White Lilacs (#9) are posted outside. Sail By (#6) is a longer proved runner that intrigues me some in this race. She has some back class as the winner of the Grade 2 Miss Grillo Stakes in 2021. She’s 8-1 on the morning line because she hasn’t won a race since. She is getting some class relief today, and while her best races have come at Belmont, I could see her pulling off a upset with the right trip in this spot. On deeper tickets, Miss Bonnie T (#1) is playable for me. She’s another horse that is likely to be coming from off the pace, and that kind of trip played fairly well on this course yesterday. The course was labeled good yesterday and will likely be labeled firm today. However after the rains that came through Thursday, the course isn’t likely to be super firm, which could prove to be beneficial for her in the late stages of this one. 


Race 8:

Consistency typically is not a hallmark in a time restricted $8K-$7K claiming field and that statement definitely rings true with this field. I landed on Small Reason (#4) to rebound after a dull effort at this level last month. Kent Sweezy doesn’t have great numbers first off the claim, but I do like that he claimed this gelding for himself. He was very good back on 7/14 when he was a clear cut winner with open $5K claimers. I like that Sweezy keeps Romero Maragh aboard to ride, despite the change in owners. Bailey (#8) is dropping in class after folding in the final furlong against conditioned $15K claimers at Parx in his last start. His three six furlong efforts since being claimed have been strong, with a dull seven furlong try sandwiched in between. I think Jairo Rendon will try for the lead from his outside draw, and while there;s other speed signed on in this race, he feels like the fastest in the early stages of this one. Big City Bob (#7) crossed the finish line first with conditioned $10K claimers at Parx three starts back, but since he was disqualified, he remains eligible for this condition. His last three races have been solid, showing some more consistency, which is definitely valuable in this field. I’m not completely sure he’s fast enough, but  I think he’ll be be close. 


Race 9:

There are a lot of horses I don’t like in this optional claiming/N2X turf sprint, so those holes lead me to using Biz Biz Buzz (#3) as my primary runner in this race. The value will be light, since I’m expecting his 2-1 morning line odds to drop. He was very good when clearing the N1X level last time out. I don’t typically love playing back N1X winners when they take their next step up, however, I do think he gets the perfect setup on paper. Mike Trombetta gives Paco Lopez the return call after a strong score last month. Full Disclosure (#2) would be where I’d go to back up in this race. Kelly Breen claimed this gelding for $30K out of a race at this level last month. He ran a credible third that day and is only a few starts removed from being stakes placed in a turf sprint at Tampa. His form hasn’t been as sharp since coming here from South Florida, but I do see him trending up for this race. 


Race 10:

We’ll end the day with conditioned $5K claimers going six furlongs. I liked Loverboy Lou (#7) in this race while dropping in class after finishing 8th in starter allowance company last month. He does his best work at one turn on the dirt and was given that shot last time against a strong field. Six of his ten career wins have come at this six furlong trip. Draw a line through the Charles Town races and he fits well here at this level. Prince Filip (#2) makes his local debut after finishing 4th in his most recent try at Delaware. He has some strong efforts at Parx that would play very well with this group if he can run back to them. The rail looked a bit better yesterday after seeing to be so dead last weekend. Mr. Extension (#5) is another class dropper who is coming back after a dull effort on this course in his last start back in May. His effort two back when beating $$7,500-$6,500 N3L claimers here on Opening Weekend. He’s run solid races on this oval and should be right in the mix with the top two in this race. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 80/345 (23.2%) – $567.80/$1.65 ROI


Congratulations should go out to both Samy Camacho and Shug McGaughey after winning the third race yesterday with Tracy Flick. She was making her first start in over two years and McGaughey had her fit as a fiddle as she came down the stretch with powerful strides to assume command and outfinish Chad Brown’s Hola Gata. That was McGaughey’s second win of the meet as many of his runners have finished second here this season. I’m sure her team was very frustrated as she was on the bench since the summer of 2021, but their patience was rewarded as she broke her maiden today. That was also the first win in five weeks for Samy Camacho, who making his return after a spill at the beginning of July. It wasn’t certain if he was going to be ready for the last few weeks of racing here this year, but he decided to stay the course and was handsomely rewarded after a strong ride from Camacho. 

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