Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 8/13/23 – By Eric Solomon

There’s a pair of stakes races on the grass that will anchor a fine Sunday afternoon program at Monmouth Park. The $100K Select Stakes will be the third race of the day for turf sprinters. Later on, a field of 10 has been assembled for the $100K Oceanport Stakes, going 1 mile and 1/16.  First post for the Sunday card 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 7 2,7 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 3 2,3,9 5 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 3 3 4,7 DBL, PK3
4 4 4 1 DBL, PK3
5 6 4,6 DBL, PK3, PK6
6 9 9 1,3,7,11 DBL, PK3, PK5
7 5 5,9 8 DBL, PK3, PK4
8 6 2,6,12 4 DBL, PK3
9 7 1,7 3 DBL
10 4 4 3


Race 1:

The day starts with a $16K-$14K maiden claiming sprint on the grass at about 5 and ½ furlongs. Sir Goosa (#2) comes in here as a heavy favorite, listed at 3-2 on the morning line and likely to go off at odds lower than that when the gate latch springs open. He was second last out at this level as the heavy favorite, and no one in this field has speed figures that get close to what he ran last time. His trainer, Joe Orseno, has had an excellent meet, winning with 8 of 20 starters thus far. He makes a lot of sense and I’m going to put him on the A line in the multi-race wagers, however, it’s hard to feel confident singling a maiden in his 10th start. I’m going to take a chance and use M B’s Munning (#7) as the top pick in this race. He’s making his second career start and his first start on the turf. He struggled badly when debuting in a $20K maiden claiming race last year on a very sloppy course at Churchill. He joined Wayne Potts’ barn in July and has worked a few times since in preparation for his three year old debut. The dam was stakes placed on this course on the grass and she foaled Francatelli, who was a multiple stakes winning turf sprinter. His sire, Munnings, gets 14% winners with his turf sprinters. At 6-1 (ML) or better, I’d be willing to take a chance with him, since he has more upside than any of his rivals in this race. 


Race 2:

Nine two years olds will be debuting in this maiden special weight race contested at six furlongs. I’ll want some coverage in this race and since the two year old races here this season have been quite unpredictable, I’ll take a chance with Spanish Pharoah (#3) making his debut for Darien Rodriguez. This barn has a decent track record with first time starters. The is the first foal to run from the dam, Elevenses, who won her debut at Aqueduct by 10 lengths and was a stakes winner at this distance early in her career. American Pharoah gets 11% winners with his first time starters on the dirt. He makes sense as a horse that could win at first asking. Cali Heat (#2)in the stall next door is from the freshman crop of Flameaway. These runners have had some early success with four of them winning their debut races. His dam just missed in her debut on this oval. She won her second start and was an easy winner of the Colleen Stakes when it was contested at this six furlong distance on the dirt. She was a multiple stakes winner and three of her foals went on to win easily when making their first starts. Gordon Gekko (#9) is the first foal to race from the Chilean bred Grade 1 winning mare, Wow Cat. She crushed foes in her first start and won her first eight races in Chile without ever being challenged. She came to the states where she was campaigned by Chad Brown, who also trains this son of Quality Road. She was narrowly defeated in the Shuvee in her stateside debut, she won the Grade 1 Beldame, and was second to Monomoy Girl in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Quality Road gets 17% winners with his debut runners and Samy Camacho gets the assignment for Brown. He’s the second choice on the morning line and he has been based here, showing up on the work tab for the first time at the end of May. I am always a little hesitant when the big New York barns debut horses here instead of at Saratoga, especially with the drastic purse increases for maiden special weight races there this year. However, the pedigree and connections are too good to ignore. Maycocks Boy (#5) breaks in the middle of the field and has been installed as the morning line favorite. Paco Lopez takes the assignment on this runner that was a stewards scratch on 7/16 when the course came up very sloppy after a few days of heavy rains. Michael Stidham has done well with his runners at this meet, winning with three of ten starters and he certainly knows how to get a horse ready for their debut. I do think this one might be better suited to sprinting on the turf, so I’ll be trying to beat him vertically, hoping to get better value elsewhere.


Race 3, The $100K Select Stakes:

There’s seven horses entered for the turf, and Crispy Cat (#5) is cross-entered in the Mahony Stakes today for three year olds at Saratoga. He entered this race without a rider, but he’s based here, so I’m not sure what Delgado’s intentions are. There’s not a true front runner in this compact field, so handicapping how the race is going to be run is a bit of a challenge. Even though he adapted his running style in his four year old season, I think High Limit Room (#7) is going to make the lead from his outside post. He’s making his first start in over a year. He was third in this race last year when he drew post ten. He lost a decent amount of ground out of the chute and ran on well to be third that day. I thought that effort was stronger than it looked on paper, and he proved his talent by shipping to Lone Star and winning a stakes race there in his last start. He’s on the sidelines now for 13 months and is scheduled to make his return here. I I’m thinking he’s going to be a bit keen, and I do expect either Yes and Yes (#4) or Crispy Cat to keep him honest on the front end. He might need this race before we see his best, but I do think he’s worth covering. Grooms All Bizness (#3) feels like the now horse in this race. He was perfectly positioned when upsetting the field in the Get Serious Stakes here in June. Jorge Duarte entered him in the Troy Stakes last weekend with the intention of facing the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Champion, Caravel. However, when the course came up on the heavier side, he opted to scratch and wait for this race. I’ve been a fan of this horse since he won his debut on the turf in 2021. He is the top pick in this race, as I think his career top effort last out could have been expected, based on his Beyer patterns. He paired his first two figures to start his four year old season and took a big step forward in his third start off the layoff. I see this as a common pattern with the better turf runners as they progress at four. There are some possible storms that could come through the area on Saturday, so I would be a little less bullish on him if the course was labeled good. However, I see him as the one to beat in this race. Yes and Yes has three very strong efforts on a firm course and if the course does end up that way, he might be able to get the jump on Grooms All Bizness, sitting a little closer to the expected frontrunner. I don’t love that he hasn’t finished first in over a year, but he has lost in two close photos in stakes races in that span. While he’s based in New York, it’s not surprising that Donk has brought him to the Mid-Atlantic region as the turf sprints at Saratoga are always salty. He struggled on a yielding course two back as the beaten favorite in a seven furlong sprint at Belmont, however he did have some trouble in that race. He’s run well in the past on softer ground, so if the course comes up good, I’ll move him to the A line. 


Race 4:

Conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claimers are slated to go 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. I think Proven Hope (#4) is going to be very tough in this race. He was claimed for $20K out of a maiden race at Aqueduct at the end of March when he was nipped on the wire. He paid immediate dividends as he broke his maiden with $40K maiden claimers on the turf. He ran a respectable 5th against $35K N2L claimers at Belmont and then was transferred to Claudio Gonzalez. He had a rough trip as the heavy favorite with conditioned $16K-$14K claimers last month. There was a runaway longshot leader up front and he ended up getting buried in behind horses, never really getting a clear path to run. I think he fits well at this level and despite never winning a race on the dirt, I see him getting the right kind of trip to beat this group. Live Is Life (#1) is the morning line favorite and the main threat to the top pick. He’s coming out of a tough allowance race on the Haskell undercard where he was never involved. He just missed with $50K-$40K conditioned two starts back as the beaten favorite. He was second in the Hutchenson Stakes earlier this year, so seeing him on sale for this tag is a little disconcerting. Paco Lopez rode him two back, and also rode the top pick last time out. He lands on Rex Kwon Do (#3) coming in from Parx for Scott Lake. I don’t care for that one in this race, but I’m much more comfortable with Luis Rivera taking over for Paco on the top pick, since Lopez rarely rides for Gonzalez. 


Race 5:

The second division of the $16K-$14K maiden claiming turf sprint will bookend the Win- Early Pick-5 sequence today. Like the opener, there’s a heavy favorite that looks like he’s well-spotted, but I have enough questions to look elsewhere for a top pick. I’ll try Rudy S. (#6) getting on the turf for the first time for Keri Brion. His first two tries were washed off the turf, and he ran okay each time, finishing 5th at Delaware in both starts. He’s sired by Oscar Performance, so turf is likely where he’s going to be better. His runners are winning at a 17% clip so far in turf sprint races. His dam was winless in seven career starts, but her best career effort came in her lone race in a sprint on synthetic at Turfway. Brion is known for having success with jump horses, but her flat horses are capable as well. I think this gelding is well-spotted here and has a chance to upset Twirling Express (#4). Pletcher drops this one to the bottom level of maiden races on the turf here. His debut on grass at Gulfstream was solid when going five furlongs and he ran well with maiden allowance types there when going two turns on Tapeta in his next start. He struggled as the favorite next out and was never involved when routing on the turf with $40K maiden claimers last month at the Spa. This feels like a bit of an odd drop in class for this one, and despite his decent effort on debut, I’m not completely convinced that sprinting on the grass is what he will do best. However, this is by far the softest field that he’s been up against, and this feels like a good spot to rebound from that dull effort. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $48 Ticket:

I’ll go without a single in this sequence, although I do like both Grooms All Bizness (#3, R3) and Proven Hope (#4, R4) a decent amount. I have enough questions about the surface and the pace scenario in the Select Stakes to make sure that I’m covered with Yes and Yes (#4, R3) and High Limit Room (#7, R3). The class relief is sharp enough for Live Is Life (#1, R4) to make sure that he is covered as well. I do think this sequence could wind up chalking out with heavy favorites like Sir Goosa (#2, R1) and Twirling Express (#4, R5) here. However, there are some live longshots that have the potential to make things interesting. 


Race 6:

Two year old fillies will get their chance to go six furlongs in this maiden special weight contest that drew 11 runners. Seven of them are slated to make their debuts here, where four of them have competed on race day at least once. This is the kind of race where I’ll try to key in on one horse, but I’ll look for some coverage with some deeper plays. I really like Get Ready Gal (#9), who was foaled by the dam Ready’s Gal, who was one of the more memorable maiden winners at Saratoga back in 2004. She broke slow, but made up a ton of ground to win going away. She would go on to be graded stakes placed and a multiple graded stakes winner on the grass. She has produced a graded stakes winner who won on debut and she runs for a barn that does well with their debut runners. I won’t take anything lower than 3-1 in this large field, but I see her as the one to beat with Paco Lopez accepting the assignment. There a quartet of runners that I want to be covered with and, depending on value and what I’m seeing in the paddock and on track, any one in the group could be upgraded. Hopesndreams (#11) draws the outside for Mike Dini. Her half brother was a winner here with maiden claimers on debut last year. Ride on Curlin has quietly done well with debut runners, winning 6 of 27 debut runners on the dirt. I’m a little surprised to see Corracle (#7) entered against open company instead of facing New Jersey breds, however, it appears that race in the condition book for two year old state bred fillies did not fill on Friday. There was a large field yesterday for the state bred maiden allowance for the boys, so perhaps that’s why Cathal Lynch decided to try this spot to debut her. If they do bring that race back next Friday, there’s a chance that she could defect from this race and wait for that one, especially since she’d be running for a purse that is $15K higher. She’s a daughter of Irish War Cry who has been off to a slow start with his debut runners. The dam ran well on dirt on debut, but was better on the turf. I suspect the grass might be in the cards for her after getting a race or two under her belt. I’m sure there will be at least one state bred maiden special weight race on the grass at the Meadowlands in the fall that she could be eyeing. I do think anything that Lynch sends out at first asking will be ready to run, so she’ll be worth covering, Factorbella (#1) draws the rail, which could be less than ideal in a large field of inexperienced runners. However, Tony Wilson has been doing a good job of getting his runners to improve in their second time around. She came with a wide bid before flattening out in her debut. She should be better in this spot. Sharp Eyes (#3) is also coming from a sharp debut barn .Carlos David brings her up from Florida, where she has been working well. Sharp Azteca, her sire, doesn’t have great numbers with debut runners though. She may be overbet in this spot, so there could be better value elsewhere. However, the way these connections are going at the moment, I can’t completely ignore her either. 


Race 7:

The late Pick-4 begins with a conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race for fillies and mares, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. Gustiamo (#5) comes into this race off a maiden claiming win at this $16K-$14K tag, beating a soft field by open lengths. She’s an improving three year old sired by Blame, whose horses tend to get better with more experience. She paired her last two Beyers, so she could be due to take a step forward in her third start off the layoff. I think she’ll sit a good trip in this race, and could get the jump on the back markers. Kathleen O’Connell had a pair of longshot winners on the turf last Saturday and she could be in line for another. Ben’s Sunny Island (#9) just missed two starts back at this level against Mispelled Mooon, who had everything her own way that day. She got off the rail and came with a strong late rush, and somehow lost that photo, which I was certain was going to knock me out of the Pick-5 that day. She was second in an off the turf race last month at this level, and I think getting the added half furlong here gives her an edge over Whatchamacall (#2) who is posted better, but has struggled to finish her races strongly. In Good Trouble (#8) also makes a lot of sense in this race, coming back to Monmouth after a pair of tries at Penn National against better horses. She came within  less than a length of beating $20K-$18K N3L claimers here three back and she faces a field where most qualify under the N2L condition. She’s another one that should appreciate the longer distance, but she often leaves herself with too much work to do.


Race 8:

You certainly don’t see too many 13 horse fields in dirt races anywhere these days, but that’s what we’re working with in this optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race that feels absolutely wide open. Sorting through the contenders and shorter prices in this race, I found myself siding against Return the Ring (#3), Mundo Mix (#7), and Buff Hello (#10). Return the Ring is coming out a race at this level at Belmont, where the winner went on to win a handicap at Colonial yesterday. While that race might upgrade his dull effort a little bit, he’s never run a race fast enough to beat a field like this, and I’m not convinced he’s going to be able to produce a career top figure after seeing his first race off that year long layoff. Mundo Mix and Buff Hello are both coming off big efforts on this course where they won by open lengths. However, they’re both moving up in class and there’s nothing in their running lines that convinces me they can run those efforts in consecutive races. That leaves Amity Road (#6), who is my top pick. He was second at huge odds two starts back at this level when making his first start of the meet. He couldn’t quite run down Nolo Contesto at this level on the Haskell undercard, where he finished second. He’s competed on this course four times and has finished second in all four tries, getting close in three of those races. Ramon Martin has him in good form and I think he’ll break through today. Tap First (#12) is an interesting longshot in this spot. He’s coming out of a 14 horse race going one mile on the turf at this level, also on the Haskell undercard. Romero Maragh was forced to send him early that day, as he broke from post 14 in that race. He faded to finish 8th, but his effort wasn’t terrible when routing for the first time. He comes back to a dirt sprint, which has been his bread and butter thus far in his career. He’s won three of ten races sprinting on the dirt, finishing in the money in another five. He has two wins and a second place finish in four starts at this distance. I think his outside draw will help him here and I do think he can take a step forward in his speed figures while cutting back in distance. Aequor (#2) has had a successful meet so far, winning twice and finishing second when facing starter allowance company in his most recent race. He likes to run from off the pace and this eight year old gelding is professional enough to navigate a good trip in a crowded field. He typically saves his better efforts for this oval, winning six of 15 times here and finishing in the money another five times. I think the presence of Mundo Mix is going to make things hard on Big Brown Shoes (#4), especially with this gelding drawing inside of him. This one feels like a contender on paper, and if Mundo Mix were to defect from this race, I would definitely upgrade his chances. He’s coming off a solid second place effort at this level at Penn National in his most recent start. However, I think his draw forces him to go from the inside and knock heads with that one early. I think there’s a good chance he could put away Mundo Mix, but if he has to fight that battle, I think it’s going to make winning the war a difficult task. 


Race 9, The $100K Oceanport Stakes:

When the entries came out for this race, I was a bit disappointed to see that Kingmax, an impressive two-time allowance winner at this meet, was not entered here. However, this is a competitive ten horse field. This race starts with Big Everest (#3), who had his four race win streak snapped by Casa Creed in the Kelso at Saratoga last month. That one just won the Grade 1 Fourstardave yesterday, so finishing 3 and ½ lengths behind him certainly feels like a big effort. He was a winner here earlier in the meet in the Cliff Hanger Stakes, when he finished in front of Smokin T. That one came back to win the Lure Stakes at Saratoga last week, beating a nice field there. He certainly has a class edge over his nine rivals, but I worry about him from a pace perspective. There are runners to his inside and outside that want to go the lead. There Are No Words (#2) can be a very quick horse when he’s pressed and while he ran very well while rating in the Irish War Cry Handicap last month, he had an outside draw that day. His inside draw here might force Jomar Torres to try to save his rail position. Safe Conduct (#4) is also in a bit of a bind on his outside, as he wants to be on the lead as well. I’ll cover with him on some deeper tickets, but I think all of this action could very well open the door for a closer in this race. That’is why I’m siding with Beacon Hill (#7) for Michael Matz and Daniel Centeno. He made his first start of the year in the Prince Georges County Stakes at Laurel last month. He was a little keen in the early stages of that five horse race and he faded to last. That’s not the kind of race he wants to run though as his best efforts have been closing fast into a strong early pace. He nearly beat a very nice horse in Camp Hope last year at Keeneland when he got that kind of trip, and he just missed in stakes company at Parx later on that year. He ran poorly in that same race at Laurel last year, so perhaps he just doesn’t love that course. I think he’ll rebound with this group today. I also think the New Jersey bred, He’spuregold (#1) has a decent chance with this group. He has struggled when stepping out into open company in the past, and his last few races before his most recent try in the Irish War Cry Handicap were not good. However, he looked like his old self again when winning that race last month, and I think he’s going to sit the right kind of trip with this field. I think he’s another runner that will be moving well late. 


Race 10:

We’ll end the day with a ten maiden claiming fillies, running with a $10K tag here. I’ll use Miss Sensible (#4) on top here, dropping out of maiden special weight company. She was dull in her debut on the turf at Gulfstream, and showed a little interest early here on the turn when going two turns. She faded late and when it was clear she was going to be 5th, she was eased up late. I’m not concerned about that low figure, as she was given a little time and now takes a deep drop in class to face a soft group in a sprint. Maddie Oliver has ridden very well over the last month or so and she gets the assignment for Jorge Delgado. Aunt Berra (#3) is the logical morning line favorite after a pair of seconds in similar races. Her last two speed figures are better than what anyone else has offered up to this point in their careers. However, she has lost her first nine races, which is not the most desirable characteristic in any maiden. I’ll cover with her because alternatives are slim here. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 83/353 (23.5%) – $594.40/$1.68 ROI 

The main track seems to be playing more fairly than it was in the past few weeks. Horses won on the front end and running along the rail, but also coming wide on the turn. If this trend continues,  I think there are going to be some decent prices on horses that ran poorly when getting stuck down inside last week and the week before that. When I’m combing through past performances and replays over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking to identify some of those runners. 

Uncorked and Biz Biz Buzz cleared the N2X allowance condition in their respective races yesterday. Uncorked was not as flashy as she was when clearing the N1X two starts ago, however, she was gritty and grinded her way by White Lilacs, who won’t be at this condition for much longer. Getting 6-1 on her in the pari-mutuel odds was a very pleasant surprise, as I would have happily taken the 7-2 morning line figure. She offered very good value in her last race on this course as well. 

Biz Biz Buzz also offered fair value, going off at 9-5. I was fully prepared to see him bet down to even money after his big effort to clear the N1X level last out. I was pleased that a lot of the public attention went to Mamba On Three, who seems to run his best races outside of New Jersey. Just Jeremy was very game to be second in that race. He’s not always the most consistent runner, but I was impressed with his effort at this level today as well. 


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