The Saturday card is the calm before the storm as the forecast for Sunday is not promising, with Tropical Storm Henri taking a westward turn, which could impact the status of racing tomorrow. Today’s card is highlighted by the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes for three year olds and up on the main track. Multiple Grade 1 winner, Code of Honor returns from a layoff in hopes of winning a race that has been won by the likes of Spectacular Bid, Spend a Buck, Alysheba, Black Tie Affair, Skip Away, and Formal Gold. There’s fourteen races on the Saturday afternoon program, and many great wagering opportunities. I was a guest this week on the ITM Player’s Podcast with Peter Fornatale and Brian Skirka, the Marketing Manager for Monmouth Park. Our segment previewing today’s Win Early Pick-5 sequence, along with the Philip H. Iselin Stakes starts at the 1 hour and 10 minute mark of the show, linked below.
|1||3,5,6,9||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||4,6||3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||7,8||4||2||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|9||5||6,7||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|10||1||4,9,11||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|11||2,9||4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 9
The four shortest prices stand out in this maiden special weight turf race for fillies and mares that starts the marathon Saturday program. I plan to use all four on my multi-race exotic tickets as I don’t have a particularly strong opinion in this spot. My Maggie Moo (9) is my lukewarm top pick as she has dramatically improved in her last two races, one on turf and other on dirt. She’s sired by Bernardini out of a Tiznow mare, and while her pedigree doesn’t scream turf, she is bred to get better as she gets older and as the races get longer. She was 4th in a field of 5 two starts back in her second career turf race, outrunning her odds and finishing behind Spatial, who finished third and went to break her maiden on the grass last out. Chad Brown sends out a pair of well-intentioned, high priced fillies that are slated to make their debuts today. Paco Lopez ends up on Control Function (6) who is a Kitten’s Joy first time starter than sold for $190K at the Keeneland November Sale in 2018. Bleecker Street (3) was a $400K purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Sale in August on 2019. She gets Hector Diaz to pilot her today. Both horses have been based here during the meet and both have been working consistently on the main track. I think Control Function may be better suited for the turf, but I’m using both. Vicious Velma (5) moves up in class after a game turf debut with $40K-$30K maiden claimers back in June. She set the pace that day and just yielded late. Isaac Castillo rode her last out and ended up keeping the mount on My Maggie Moo. There’s not a ton of known speed in this race, so she could have a pace advantage.
Race 2: Top Pick: 6
Multi-conditioned $5K, filly and mare claimers, go 1 Mile and 1/16 in the first leg of the Early Pick-4. Scatnap (6) was claimed at this level three starts back where she took some money, but she stumbled at the start and had to settle for third that day. She’s run two solid races since the McAllen claim, one on turf and the other on dirt, both against significantly better fields. She sat right off the pace last out, made her move to take the lead, but faded late to be 4th with optional claiming/starter allowance foes. She looks very tough at this level. Topo Grigio (4) was claimed by Saffie Joseph for $12,500 back in January at Gulfstream. She was away for six months and resurfaced here at the same $12,500 N3L level where she lost all chance at the break, spotting her three rivals several lengths in the beginning stages of that race. She rallied to get up for third, 7+ lengths behind Misty Taste, who came back to run a monster race in the slop last out. I don’t love that she’s taking such a steep drop, but she makes sense in this field. On deeper tickets, Boomerang Miss (3) might be one to consider, shipping in from Parx in her first race off the claim Jose Santella-Calderon. She is definitely a pace presence in this race, and she should be better stretching back out to two turns. She’s won four races in thirteen tries on this oval and has hit the board in six of eight tries at the distance.
Race 3: Top Pick: 6
The all-female Win Early Pick 5 continues with a time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for those that haven’t won a race in six months (excluding races where they have run with a claiming tag of $8K or less). I’m going to make Corn of the Cob (6) my single in this race in her third start off the layoff. She was away since October when she returned in a salty optional claiming/starter allowance race at seven furlongs at Parx. She chased a hot pace that day before folding late. She improved somewhat against another sharp field of multi-conditioned $25K claimers, where she was 5th, beaten by Above Par, who was a next out winner. She drops in class and runs for Claudio Gonzalez, who has been heating up over the last two weeks here. On deeper tickets, I’ll use Madame Tiger (2) as a saver. She has burned a lot of money over the last several starts, being a beaten favorite in five of her last six races. All of those races came against better fields, so she does get some class relief here. She isn’t in the greatest form right now, but she was a winner in her one career start here last year. Jose Ferrer rode her that day and is back aboard today.
Race 4: Top Pick: 2
Two year old fillies sprint 5 and ½ Furlongs on the turf in this maiden special weight contest. I’m on Koala Princess (2) shipping in from Fair Hill to make her debut for Arnaud Delacour. She’s a homebred, whose mare, Koala Queen, was also campaigned by Delacour. That one ran twice as a two year old on the turf, winning both races. She’s sired by More Than Ready, so there’s some precocity and turf ability in that sire line for sure. I think she’s very dangerous here at first asking. Capatinsdaughter (6) paired her Beyers in her two career starts, one on dirt here and the other on turf when facing New York bred maiden special weight company on the turf. I thought she was game in both starts for Russell Cash, who is still looking for his first training win of the year. I’m Buzzy (4) debuts for Michael Dini today after some respectable works on the main track. She’s sired by Long Island Sound, who was a Group 3 winner overseas. He was trained by Aidan O’Brien, who shipped this son of War Front to the States for the Belmont Derby in 2016, where he finished 6th, and the Secretariat at Arlington, where he finished 2nd. Her dam sire is Purim, who was a talented turf runner as well. I think this filly will be better at two turns, but she certainly has the grass pedigree to consider using.
Race 5: Top Pick: 7
The final leg of the Win-Early Pick 5 is an optional claiming/N2X allowance race for fillies and mares going one mile on the main track. Violent Trick (7) was a winner at this level last out when in for the $25K tag. She was claimed that day by Jose Camejo and she comes right back at the same level, but is protected, as she remains eligible for the N2X condition. She handled the wide draw last out when she went to the front. There is a little more speed signed on, so she might have to rate, which she has proven she can do. Daria’s Angel (4) appears to have the best early foot, coming here from Belmont off the Saffie Joseph claim last month. It’s been a while since she’s gone two turns, but she’s shown that she can run credible races at that trip. She’s been a popular face at the claim box, being claimed in six of her last nine starts. She’s been first or second in her last four tries and is definitely a player here. Pens Steet (2) makes her first start at two turns on the dirt coming off a solid win at Gulfstream at the one turn mile, where she cleared the N1X condition. She ran well enough earlier on to be considered for races like the Davona Dale and the Gulfstream Park Oaks. She’s rebooted her career, and is coming off a race where she posted her best Beyer figure yet. She’s sired by Street Sense out of a War Pass mare, so I think she’ll be fine at the two turn mile. If the top two go too quick, she could be the one to pick up the pieces.
Win Early Pick-5 – $54 Ticket
Race 1: 3, 5, 6, 9
Race 2: 3, 4, 6
Race 3: 6
Race 4: 2, 4, 6
Race 5: 2, 4, 7
Race 6: Top Pick: 8
More two year old fillies compete here in the start of the mid-card Pick 4. This race goes on the dirt at six furlongs, though. I think the pair slotted in the outside gates are going to be very tough in this spot. Determined Truth (8) exits a competitive Virginia bred stakes race on the grass down at Colonial where she finished third behind two very nice fillies on the grass. She debuted two back on the dirt at Pimlico, where she just yielded to the winner in the final stages. I think she’s bred to be better on the main track and should benefit from her last experience. Trade Secret (7) is definitely getting class relief after running her first three career races at Churchill and Saratoga for Steve Asmussen. She’s been in the thick of it in each of her three tries, boasting gradually improving Beyer figures in each race. She’s caught wet tracks in two of three tries, and her closest finish came in her lone fast track effort. Lady G (4) is another filly that exits stakes company on the grass, despite her maiden status. She finished 4th, behind the Wesley Ward trained filly, Miss Alacrity, in the Colleen here three weeks ago. She ran a respectable race in the slop in her debut at Penn National two starts back. Her trainer, Anthony Margotta, has only two wins at the meet thus far, but his runners have hit the board in 10 of his 18 starts, telling me his horses are live. On deeper tickets, Rock Rose (2) was a bit disappointing in her debut was she was sent to post as the favorite in a maiden special weight race at the same distance two weeks ago. Hollendorfer puts blinkers on her and wheels her back rather quickly for her second career start. She’ll definitely need a forward move, and I prefer some of the horses with a little more seasoning, but she’s not without a chance.
Race 7: Top Pick: 1
I think coverage is going to be key in this multi-conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming contest. Realtor Danny D (1) has been improving with maiden claiming company. In his most recent start, Jose Delgado wheeled him back in eight days where he was a heavy favorite when cutting back to a sprint. He finally tasted victory after twelve straight defeats to start his career. He’s better suited for two turn racing and should be tough at this level while facing winners for the first time. Luxero (4) was too far back last out at this level, but he made up a lot of ground to get up to be third that day. He’s one of two in here that have two wins in their careers, whereas the other five only have their maiden victory. Jeremy Laprida replaces the injured Tomas Mejia aboard him in hopes of sitting a better trip. Threeninetytwo (7) is the morning line favorite and just missed at this level last out, when defeated by Curlin’s Thrill who is 2-2 in his career on dirt. He’s been second or third in seven of eight tries on this oval without ever making it to the Winner’s Circle. He has been close several times in the last two years, but hasn’t sealed the deal on the racetrack since a maiden win on the grass at the Meadowlands in October of 2019. He feels better suited to play underneath rather than playing him to win at short odds, but covering him the multi-race exotics isn’t the worst idea. Awesome Launch (3) gets back on the dirt after a dull effort in his first turf outing. He broke his maiden on the main track here two back in an off the turf maiden claimer. He should improve getting back on dirt and dropping in class.
Race 8: Top Pick: 3
The top three finishers from a maiden special weight race on the turf at this 5 and ½ Furlong distance on 7/25, are back here, and they look like the principal threats. Prudent Song (3) was sent to post at 36-1 in her debut, and she ran like a seasoned professional, closing smartly along the rail to get up for second, coming within a half-length of the winner. She should get another favorable setup from a pace perspective here, with some horses entered here that look better suited for five furlongs, as opposed to 5 and ½. If she can build off that effort, she’ll be very tough to beat in this race. Asyena (9) gets Paco Lopez and the outside draw, so she could easily get first run on the others. She was in between horses last out and that may have softened her late kick. She still was close in the end and should be respected getting back on the grass for the second time in her career. She has been more of a hit the board type, so I’d definitely limit how much I’d play her on top. Bramble Bush (5) is a little bit interesting at a decent price on the morning line (8-1). She had trouble at the break in a five furlong dash at Tampa in her debut in March. She was forced to go six wide on the turn, passing some horses late, when finishing midpack. Dini has given her some time off since that effort, and I think she can run better today. Magic Moonstar (8) set the tempo in the 7/25 race before fading. I think there’s other speed that will make her life more difficult today. However, she’s in her third race of her current form cycle and she ran her best race last year in that race.
Race 9: The Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes: Top Pick: 5
This race features the return of Code of Honor (5) who has been on the sidelines since finishing 5th in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January. He has Grade 1 wins in the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup to his name and he has fired off the bench before, winning the Grade 3 Westchester last June when coming off a similar layoff. He hasn’t won in his five starts since, but four of those five races were Grade 1 stakes. I think he’s just a better horse than his six rivals. On deeper tickets, Brice (7) continues to fire big races on this track, winning all four races here and his last five overall. He was available to be claimed for $8K back in May and was claimed by Jerry Hollendorfer for $22K in July. He stepped up to the N1X allowance level and ran his best race yet. This is definitely another acid test, but he was bred to be a good a horse, despite running in some modest races while he was figuring some things out. There’s not a ton of speed signed on and he could be tough to catch. Phat Man (6) is another one that could be factor. He recently won the Battery Park Stakes at Delaware on the Delaware Handicap undercard. It’s worth noting that he hasn’t won two races in a row since 2017. The last time he did that was when he won the Long Branch Stakes here after winning his previous start at Belmont though. He’s a hard-knocking seven year old gelding that should be considered.
Race 10: Top Pick: 1
The late Pick-5 is a strong sequence that has the potential to payout well this afternoon and it starts here, with the expected post time of 4:29 PM (ET). This sequence starts with open $12,500-$10,500, filly and mare claimers going 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf. This level is always very competitive here and this race is no different. Vip Nation (1) is a serious threat to take this field gate to wire from her rail post. She was good in her local debut last out when facing better and now drops after moving to the Wayne Potts barn. We’ve seen this move several times at this meet, and it’s been a successful gambit for the leading trainer. Paco Lopez picking up the mount only helps her chances. I’m expecting a better effort from Lucy’s Town (11) making her first start of the Douglas Nunn claim. She was dull in her last start, but she might be one to benefit from a barn change. She drilled a 59:1 bullet on the main track last week, signaling that she might be ready to revert to her better form. Gulfstream invader Skye Snow (4) hasn’t run since May, but she left South Florida in very good form. Trainer Carlos David has had a decent amount of success here thus far with a limited number of starters. She’s won two straight and will be very dangerous if she can pick up where she left off. I’ll watch the odds on her and if her price goes up if they’re hammering Paco Lopez at the window, I’ll likely use her more. Miss Jen (9) ran better after a dull effort two back in an off the turf race. She’ll be happy to see that Omnia, who now has won three straight, has moved beyond this condition for the time being. She’ll still need to improve off her last to beat these, but she has some better efforts in her past that make her playable here.
Race 11: Top Pick: 2
$10K maiden claimers go six furlongs in the race that starts the last Pick-4 sequence of the day. I don’t usually like horses that frequently get close and hit the board, but have struggled to win. However, I think this may be a good spot for Gone Dreaming (2), coming off a narrow defeat at the $12,500-$10,500 maiden claiming level. She was steadily improving before a dull effort three back. She tried a two-turn race two back and, despite looking like a horse that didn’t want the distance, she was more relaxed off the early leaders that day. That ability helped her when cutting back to a sprint last out. I think she’s the only one in this eleven horse field that has shown to the ability to pass horses while making a meaningful run. Let’s Take it Izzy (9) is going to be the one to beat making her first start since June. She has never run a bad race in the afternoon, with her most successful effort coming two starts back when she finished 2nd when facing better horses. She was 4th when facing a better field of sprinters in her most recent outing. She’ll be tough if she hasn’t gone off form in the last two months. Prominent Henny (4) is the one I struggled with the most here. I thought her debut was very sharp, losing steam late with betting after doing most of the heavy lifting on the front end. The turf experiment was a complete failure last out, so she’s back to the dirt surface today. She definitely has a chance, but I’m not sure if you’ll be able to get decent value on a horse that drops for a tag that is below what her new connections bought her for a few weeks ago.
Race 12: Top Pick: 7
I’ll want as much coverage as I can get in this optional claiming/starter allowance contest at one mile on the main track. There appears to be a good amount of speed signed on with as many as four, Professional (4), Pointer (5), Friendly Fella (6), and Aequor (8), having serious intentions of being on the early lead. I think this race sets up for a closer, and I’ll try Bold Paynter (7) who is reuniting with Wilmer Garcia this afternoon. Garcia rode him at Tampa when he was running his best races, so he might have a better connection with this horse than some other riders. He’s run some okay races at this meet, but he hasn’t run back to his best form from the spring. He has shown the ability to close well into a fast pace though. Direct Order (3) has been running in several one turn races at NYRA, and he ships here to make his first start since he was claimed in June by Natalia Lynch. He’s been claimed in five of his last six races on the NYRA circuit, so it’s encouraging to see him spotted here where he is protected. He was a winner in his last two-turn race at Parx last August and is another one that is likely to be on the scene late. Nice of Me (2) will need to improve at this level, but he’s been in very good form at this meet, winning his last, and hitting the board in his other three tries so far. His speed figures have been gradually increasing, running very well at this distance last out. He’s been more of sprinter in his career, but he showed that he can get this distance. Plato (10) gets the worst of the post position draw in his first start since clearing the $8K-$7K N4L claiming level last out. He’s another horse that has been popular at the claim box, being purchased in each of his last three starts. Winning last out takes away a lot of the restricted claiming races for him, so he pretty much has to take this step up in class. He’ll likely have to be farther off the pace than usual, to avoid a very wide journey into the first turn. His day will depend on what kind of trip Hector Diaz can work out. If the track is playing kind to speed, the others could be upgraded, but of the early speed quartet, I think Pointer is the one with the best chance to put the others away and keep finding. He might be quicker than everyone to his inside, so Paco Lopez could get him rail position with a hustling ride. He’s shown the ability to keep running after winning an early pace battle.
Race 13: Top Pick: 6
The last turf race of the afternoon is a multi-conditioned $30K-$25K claiming race for three year olds and up sprinting 5 and ½ Furlongs. All eight that are entered on the grass in this race are entered under the N2L condition. I had no idea what to expect from Nova Supersport (6) when he made his first start on August 1st in almost two years. He looked good in his debut in June of 2019, running a solid second in a maiden special weight on the grass. He resurfaced three weeks ago and dominated a field of $16K-$14K maiden claimers. He faces winners or the first time in a race that is devoid of a lot of early speed. I think Isaac Castillo can take advantage of that with him today to get the job done. Souper Energizer (7) was dull in his first start in four months last month, when facing $7,500-$6,500 claimers on the dirt. He was claimed out of that race and takes a big step up in class, but returns to his preferred surface. Most of his races have been at two turns, but he sprinted well enough here and at Saratoga last year to consider using him in this spot. No Que No (2) is a rare Arlington Park shipper coming to Monmouth, who will be the first starter of the meet for trainer Fausto Gutierrez. He broke his maiden at Gulfstream in December in his first race on grass. Since then, he’s continued to come up short at the optional claiming/N1X level. He comes here and makes his first start while running with a claiming tag. He’s cutting back to a sprint after struggling to get the two turn mile last out. The morning line favorite is Knockout Punch (8), who ships here from the NYRA circuit for Wayne Potts. His figures are okay, but he feels like one that is going to completely overbet in this race based of his connections. I’ll cover with him on deeper tickets, but he feels like a horse that I want to play against.
Race 14: Top Pick: 8
$10K maiden claimers end the mammoth card at Monmouth today. There’s not a lot of creativity here as the eleven race maiden Little Red Button (8) looks to be the one to beat. Her pedigree leans dirt, but she has been on the turf in seven of her eleven races. She was claimed for $16K out of a turf sprint in her local debut. She finished third behind a next out winner that day. She moves to the Claudio Gonzalez barn where she drops in class, but fits nicely in this two-turn contest. Tap Solo (7) debuted on the dirt here last year, and got away slow when she finished a dull eighth, well behind the winner. She has been better while racing on the grass in her last four, but now she drops to the bottom on gets back on the main track. She could be a better horse than she was in her debut, but 5-2 is a short number on an unknown commodity on the dirt. No Sympathy (6) is another unknown commodity at two turns, but the value figures to be significantly better. She was awful in her first two starts against New Jersey bred maiden special weights in July. She improved on the drop and with the barn change last out and now stretches out to two turns. After the top pick, there isn’t much else in terms of talent in this race. She might be worth taking a flyer on, especially if her odds float up, over her 10-1 morning line odds.
Meet Stats: 93/346 (Top Pick Winners) – $579.70 / $1.68 ROI per $2 win bet