Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 8/14/22 – By Eric Solomon

There’s a pair of stakes races on the turf that highlight a strong eleven race card this Sunday. The 8th race is the Oceanport Stakes for three year olds and up, going 1 mile and 1/16 featuring the Grade 1 winner of the 2021 Mister D Stakes (The Arlington Million), Two Emmys. The 10th race is a highly competitive edition of the Rainbow Heir Stakes. Outadore is the morning line favorite for Wesley Ward who was cross-entered in an absolutely loaded edition of the Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes there yesterday. I was a little surprised when Ward opted for that spot (where he finished off the board) instead of this race, so he’ll almost certainly be scratched out of this race today. Post time is 12:15 (ET) on a day where there’s more beautiful weather in the forecast.


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 5 5 3 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 4 2,4 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 4 3,4,6 DBL, PK3
4 2 2 8,10 DBL, PK3
5 2 2 6 7 DBL, PK3
6 4 4,7,8 DBL, PK3, PK6
7 3 3,6 1 DBL, PK3, PK5
8 3 3 6 DBL, PK3, PK4
9 2 2,6 7 DBL, PK3
10 1 1 4,9 DBL
11 2 2,3 8




Race 1:

On a day where turf runners will take the spotlight, it’s fitting this card opens with a race on the lawn. Conditioned $16K-$14K claimers sprint 5 and ½ furlongs in the lid lifter. Mach One (#4) is the morning line favorite, and perhaps that is the tax for having Paco Lopez aboard. However, Lucago (#5), who is the second choice at 5-2, certainly seems to have a notable advantage on the drop in class here. He’s only been on turf twice, but he’s run credible races both times, He’s had most of his success on synthetics, winning three of his four career victories on the Tapeta at Gulfstream. He was sandwiched at the break last out when running against a sharp N1X allowance field. Torres was patient and the horse was finishing well in the stretch before getting sandwiched again, losing some momentum, but still running on. I don’t love the drop for a horse that was claimed for $30K two back, but I do think this one is absolutely the one to beat. I will cover with General Command (#3) here, thinking that this lightly raced colt might have enough speed to clear this field out of the chute. He ran off a bit in the early stages of his lone try on grass when facing open $20K claimers at Tampa in February. Wilmer Garcia got him to settle a bit before fading late at the one mile trip. He makes his first start since that race while also making his first start for Rafael Schistl. Front end speed has been good on this course lately and he may prove tough to catch in this spot. 


Race 2:

We have an optional $40K claiming/$40K starter allowance race for three year old fillies, going six furlongs. The morning line favorite is Six o’Clock Sarah (#1) shipping in from Parx for Jamie Ness. She was cross-entered as a part of an entry yesterday at Delaware and opted for this spot. My trouble with taking a short price on this filly is that she appears to be a need the lead type, and while there isn’t a wealth of early speed here, I think Sister Supream (#4) is faster from the gate, which could be problematic if that one has a smooth start. I’ll try to beat the Ness filly with the speedy Sister Supream, who is making her first start since the end of May. Her last three starts on fast tracks at this distance have been sharp, winning twice and finishing second in a N2L allowance race last out. Carol Cedeno is coming in from Delaware to ride a few races today and she’ll get the call for Michael Gorham. I was all about Lanfrnkophile (#2) in a 5 and ½ furlong race at this condition two weeks ago. She had some trouble at the break and was left with too much work to do. She was traveling well late to get into third that afternoon. She reunites with Paco Lopez who rode her to victory at this level three back. She continues to progress from a speed figure standpoint and should be closer to the early pace today. 


Race 3:

I am taking a stand against the morning line favorite, Pearls and Heels (#1), in this race. She finally broke her maiden in her 11th try while running in one of the weaker $10K maiden claiming races at the meet last month. There were two significant scratches that day which made her an obvious favorite. She had everything go her own way and was ridden out to win by 2 and ½ lengths. There’s some speedy class droppers in this conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming race that I believe are faster from the gate, and should be tough with this group. Leviosa (#4) won three straight races at Gulfstream this winter before being claimed from Saffie Joseph. Her last four starts have all been losses by double digit lengths. However, all four of those races have come against significantly tougher fields than what she’ll face today. She’s been moved to Jesus Cruz’s barn, who had her work a snappy three furlongs last week. I think she’ll be better with this group today. Tasty Wave (#3) is a logical player, also taking a drop in class. Toss her last try on the turf and she could be a candidate to rebound today. She was wide two back with a better field in her only start on this course. She struggled when facing winners for the first time three back at Belmont. Prior to that, she ran a strong race to break her maiden with $25K state bred maiden claimers at Aqueduct. Blinkers go on today for the first time, which could help her cause. I’ll also include the longshot, Tindari (#6) here. Jorge Vargas was very sharp on Friday, winning with two longshots and he’ll get the call on this filly who is the longest price on the morning line. There’s no denying that her last three races have been bad. However, they have all been against better fields, and the last two races were going 1 mile and 70 yards. This is a quick turnaround and the shortest distance she’s run on race day. However, she could be rolling late while getting some significant class relief. 


Race 4:

This is another two year old maiden special weight race on the turf going one mile. Networking (#2) scratched out of a tougher race at this condition two weeks ago. His stablemate drew a better post that afternoon, potentially being the reason for his defection. He’s well bred, and he should flourish at two turns on the turf. He was a bit slow away from the gate when debuting in a five furlong maiden special weight race last month, losing to a Wesley Ward speedball. He finished with enough interest that day to make me believe that he has some ability. He’s from a very successful family and he finds a decent spot where there aren’t many standouts. I think he graduates today. I’ll cover with two runners that are longer prices. The New Jersey bred, Word for Word (#8) is a full brother to the stakes placed runner There Are No Words. That one has improved vastly in two turn races on the grass, most recently clearing the state bred N1X condition. He didn’t show much interest in his debut on the dirt, but blinkers go on today. Douglas Nunn has good numbers with second time starters and horses making their first turf start. I think he’s a sneaky longshot in this race. Mo Angell (#10) is also worth consideration, trying the turf for the first time. She’s the first foal from Sassy Sienna, whose biggest win was the 2018 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn. She did most of her work on the dirt, but she started her career winning on the turf at Indiana Grand. She could have possibly been a solid turf horse if she continued her racing career. Jonathan Thomas is a high percentage trainer, so I’m expecting to see improvement from his colt in this spot, despite the difficult post position. 


Race 5:

New Jersey breds sprint six furlongs in this optional claiming/allowance race that will conclude the Win-Early Pick-5. On the Come Up (#3) and Shield of Faith (#7) dueled themselves into submission last out at this level when Dr. Doyle was a handy winner. That one came back to win on Monday against a sharper group of state bred runners. I do like that Shield of Faith has drawn outside today, because he hasn’t looked super comfortable inside of horses in his last two starts. However, he hasn’t won in a while and is tough to take as the morning line favorite. I’ll save him for deeper tickets, while possibly upgrading him if his odds float upward. Kaz Sweet Heist (#2) is an improving three year old that was flying late to finish in front of those two duelers last month. He broke his maiden two back in impressive fashion. I think he’s found a home as a closing sprinter and he’s going to get the right set up today. Lucky Lover Boy (#6) is an interesting runner in this race at longer odds. He’s making his third start off the layoff and cutting back to his best distance today. He’s looking to win at least one race at this track in this 4th straight season and this may be a sneaky spot for him to get first run on the early leaders. 

WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 Ticket:

This is a sequence where I would consider playing the All-A ticket several times, because there are some horses that I do like quite a bit and would consider using as singles in this sequence. I think Lucago (#5, R1), Networking (#2, R4), and Kaz Sweet Heist (#2, R5) are all going to be tough customers in their respective races. There are some price horses that interest me a bit in each of their races though, so I’ve put together this $36 play to try to hook one of them, while also playing against the morning line favorites in the 2nd and 3rd races. 


Race 6:

The Jersey Shore-6 starters with a $16K-$14K maiden claiming race going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course. This race will come down to value for me as this is a field that is evenly matched. Fiery Heart (#4) gets the top call, shipping in for Mark Hennig. His last effort on the dirt at Saratoga was poor, but he’s shown that he’s capable of better. He makes his third start off the layoff and is dropping in class today. He had tough posts in his last two turf starts at Gulfstream, but he showed enough potential in his first two turf races to think that he has more to offer. Inappropriate (#8) was beaten eight lengths by the morning line favorite and professional maiden, Committed (#6) last out. I thought he was a play against that day when making his first start in almost a year, while going off at 5-2. He’s 8-1 on the morning line today and making his second start off the layoff. Richard Mitchell has been riding this course well with limited opportunities. I think he’s likely to improve and put forth an effort closer to what we saw from him on the turf in 2021. Curteis (#7) could be flying home late, and seeing how some closers were getting home on the turf on Friday makes me think that he has a shot today. He adds blinkers while being reunited with trainer Bernard Durham. He’s only had 20 starters in 2022, but seven of them found the Winner’s Circle. I thought his effort three starts back was sharp while facing maiden special weight company at Delaware. 


Race 7:

This is a salty group of six assembled for an optional claiming/conditional allowance race at 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. I see both Burning Bright (#1), out of the turf champion Forever Together, making his first start in over a year, and longshot Musical America (#2), both being aggressive on the front. That should allow for both Senior Investment (#3) ad Bourbon Frontier (#6) to sit the right trip just off the frontrunners. I think the gritty eight year old gelding, Senior Investment is going to be tough to beat. He was slow into stride when making his first start since December last month at Parx against a very sharp allowance field. He closed well late that day to get into second at long odds. He was sharp last year, running strong races against solid fields, narrowly missing in stakes company at Delaware last September. Bourbon Frontier was disappointing last time out and hasn’t had the meet I thought he would when he shipped here from Oaklawn in the spring. However, his effort here two back wasn’t bad and if Hector Diaz is able to get him to relax behind the leaders like he did when winning at Oaklawn back in December, I think he’s got a good shot here. I’ll cover with Burning Bright  on deeper tickets from a class and pedigree standpoint. I do think he’ll be better in his next start though. 


Race 8: The $100K Oceanport Stakes

It’s a bit ironic that the day after the resurrected Arlington Million was run at Churchill, last year’s winner shows up here in a stakes race at the Jersey Shore. Two Emmys (#3) is by far the most accomplished runner in this contest. In addition to winning last year’s Grade 1 Mister D., he also won the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Memorial at the Fair Grounds back in March. He’s coming off a strong performance in the Outbound Ike Stakes at Hawthrone, which was an unusually strong field for a $75K stakes race in Illinois. While he has thrown in a few clunkers in this span, he figures to get a good stalking trip just behind Winfromwithin (#4) and Mid Day Image (#5). Carol Cedeno will be riding this gelding for the first time, and since he’s had some down days,  I’ll look to cover with Be Here (#6) on deeper tickets. Augustin Stables and Jonathon Thomas sent out a gelded son out of one of their champion mares in the last race and they’ll do the same here. Be Here was foaled by Informed Decision, winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She was very good on synthetics in her day, so it’s not a surprise that this gelding has been very good on turf lately. He takes a big step up in class, but he’s been dominant in his last two starts, including an off the pace score at Belmont. 


Race 9:

The last Pick-3 opportunity of the afternoon starts with this $7,500-$6,500 N3L contest at six furlongs. I don’t have a particularly strong opinion with this group, but I do know I want to try to beat the morning line favorite, Violent Pass (#1). His form is headed in the wrong direction and he’s actually moving up in class while flattering as the favorite at Penn National last time out. I’ll try the longest shot on the board in this race and use Running Violence (#2) as the top pick. His figures are light and he’s only 2-33 in his career. However, he’s moving from a barn that has a 3% winning percentage in 2022 to a barn that has an 18% winning percentage. He has races that would be competitive with this group, so honestly, that change is enough for me to consider trying him at long odds. There’s a pair of Parx invaders that are coming in with better dirt figures than the locals. Current Hope (#6) has been knocking on the door with similar company over in Philadelphia. His last three efforts on the main track are likely fast enough to beat this group. He seems to lack that winning punch though, so I don’t want to take much shorter than his 3-1 morning line figure. Kikkerland (#7) has finished behind Current Hope the last two times they faced off. However, the change of scenery may benefit this one, who is cutting back in distance after struggling at seven furlongs last time out. 


Race 10: The $100K Rainbow Heir Stakes:

The pending scratch of Outadore (#2) totally changes the outlook on this stakes race. Belgrano (#1) and Breakthrough (#4) battled through the stretch in the Wolf Hill Stakes last month with Breakthrough getting the narrow victory. That was a big step forward for this four year old gelded son of Nyquist when making his third start of the meet. He was aided by getting a relatively easily first quarter for that race when some of the other speed that was signed on didn’t really go for the lead. Outadore running yesterday in Canada certainly helps his chances here, but I think Belgrano is strictly the one to beat. The 5 and ½ furlong distance on turf is his wheelhouse and he just missed last out, losing for the first time in six tries at that distance. I’m hoping the outside trio of Nothing Better (#7), Feast (#8), and Exculpatory (#9) can force the issue early on. While I’m not sure any of those three could hang around for a win, they certainly could benefit my choice, who will be rolling late. Breakthrough is still worth covering on deeper tickets, and I’ll also give a little look to Exculpatory trying the turf for the first time for Jesus Cruz. He was really good last year, crushing a field in the Hilton Memorial going a two turn seven furlong distance on dirt at Charles Town. His two starts this year have been poor, so perhaps the change in surface could give him a wake up call.


Race 11:

The Sunday nightcap is a $10K maiden claiming race going 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. This is another race where the morning line favorite, Khopilot (#8), is vulnerable. He has the outside draw while getting a rider change to Jorge Panaijo, a rider that has won only five percent of his mounts in 2022. While he has track and distance experience, finishing second at this level two back, he’s going to need to get a sweet trip to beat this evenly matched group. If the wagering attention shifts elsewhere and his odds float up, I’d be more apt to play him. I’m trying Henrythethird (#2) while making his first start on the dirt at two turns. His lone dirt try was at 5 and ½ furlongs in his career debut, so I can forgive that effort. His strong efforts have been on the synthetic in races washed off the turf in Florida. He’s sired by Keen Ice, so I’d think there’s some two turn dirt ability in there somewhere. Whata Guy (#3) will also be trying two turns on the dirt for the first time after failing his last two turf sprints. He could win up on the lead in this one and may start feeling brave late if left alone. 


Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners: 100/386 (25.9%) – $759.80/ $1.97 ROI

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