Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 8/5/22 – By Eric Solomon

Another four day racing week gets underway this afternoon at beautiful Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey. The featured race today is a six furlong maiden special weight contest for two year old fillies. We’ve seen a few notable performances from two year olds here at this meet, so it’s always worth paying attention to races like this. Racing for the Friday, eight race program gets underway at 2:00 (ET).

 

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 9(AE)/6 6,9 3 2,8 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 1 1 2 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 7 1,6 5 7 DBL, PK3, PK6
4 4 4 3 DBL, PK3, PK 5
5 5 2,4,5 DBL, PK3, PK4
6 3 3,7 6 DBL, PK3
7 6 2,6 1 DBL
8 5 5 1,6

 

 

 

Race 1: 

We’ll kick things off with a New Jersey bred maiden special weight contest for three year olds and up, going five furlongs on the turf. Early speed has dominated these five furlong races, especially when the rails are at the 36 foot position, like they are today. The nature of this race will change dramatically if the also-eligible runner, Exaggerateddefence (#9) gets to participate. His lone effort on the turf against a better field at this level was sharp. He faded late going 5 and ½ furlongs that day. Since that race in the middle of June, the course has become much kinder to front end speed. I don’t think there’s anyone that can go with him early, and the cutback in distance should only help his chances. He’s the top pick, but either way I think Forest Frost (#6) is a player in this race. He’ll become the top pick if Exaggerateddefence doesn’t participate. Trainer Christopher Keller appears to be making his Monmouth Park debut with this Rainbow Heir gelding. Keller has operated primarily out of Charles Town where turf racing is not an option. He has shipped runners to other tracks seven times in the last five years to run on the turf, winning two of those races, and narrowly missing in two others. Rainbow Heir’s progeny have limited starts when sprinting on turf, but his runners are 3-8 in those races. The dam, Forest Funds did her best work sprinting on the grass and was a stakes winner at this distance on turf. He has some speed, and  I think he’ll benefit from getting Frankie Pennington to ride. Pennington is 0-7 at Monmouth this season, but he’s ridden 23% of his winners overall, mostly at Parx. He picked up some mounts here around this time last season when Parx was on their summer break, so don’t be surprised to see his name more frequently in the next few weeks. Cassation (#3) makes a lot of sense, and will likely be the post time favorite if Exaggerateddefence doesn’t start. His effort in a turf sprint two starts back at this level was sharp, closing well only to come up ¾ of a length short. I would prefer him back at 5 and ½ furlongs instead of the five furlong dash today. Jorge Vargas, fresh off a win in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks last weekend, gets the assignment today, where he’ll likely need to try to get this one a little closer in the early stages to give him the best shot to win. On deeper tickets, Kobe’s Rhythm (#8) tries turf for the first time in his third career start. His first two races on the dirt weren’t anything special. His sire, Kobe’s Back, had his first runner win a turf sprint last month at Laurel. His dam, Rhythmically, has not produced a winner in a turf sprint yet, however, she ran some of her better races when sprinting on the turf. Jockey Jairo Rendon won the Tyro Stakes last weekend when riding Sharp Aza Tack for Doug O’Neill at this distance on the grass. Indiantown (#2) makes his first start in over a year for Graham Motion. My inclination for this son of Verrazano is that he’ll be better at two turns. This might be a race to set him up for his next start, but Jeremy Rose coming in to ride is a good sign. 

 

Race 2:

Conditioned $5K claimers go 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track in the first leg of the Early Pick-4. The two shorter prices look to be better than the other five in this race. While I believe I Love Jaxson (#2) might have a little bit more of a tactical advantage over American Forces (#1), I think the latter is going to be too tough in the stretch of this race. American Forces is taking a significant drop in class, after finishing a distant third against a stronger $25K starter allowance field last time out. He was a winner at that level three back. The only time he;s finished off the board in a two turn dirt race came in his debut when he lost the rider at the break. I Love Jaxson stretches back out to two turns after a pair of dull efforts with open claimers at Belmont. Jeffrey Englehart has struggled with the runners that he’s brought to Monmouth during this meet, finding the Winner’s Circle only one time with 21 starters. He’ll likely be closer to the early pace than American Forces, and he should get first run on him. If the price disparity between the two widens, I may upgrade him more. 

 

Race 3:

Two year old fillies sprint six furlongs in this maiden special weight contest. Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown each send out a Practical Joke first time starter. Juan Avila, who won a maiden special weight race with a two year old filly on 7/24, sends out a pair and Eddie Owens, whose Jersey breds have been on fire this meet, sends out a debut runner against open company. The three runners that have raced haven’t shown enough for me to get excited about backing them here. The Pletcher and Brown runners, Hoax (#7) and Time Horizon (#5), are interesting cases in this race. Practical Joke is an excellent debut sire, hitting with 21% of two year olds debuting in a dirt sprint. Pletcher has started nine two year olds at this meet, and has won with two of them. Both of those wins came in June though. The five horses that have debuted for him in July on this oval have struggled. Only one has hit the board and that filly was beaten over six lengths. Despite the solid work tab, for him to send this filly away from Saratoga while they’re in the middle of their meet is concerning to me. Unless the public is absolutely pounding her at the windows, I’ll be saving her for the deeper tickets while trying to beat her. Brown has not sent out any two year olds at the meet so far, which is not a big surprise. He typically waits until Saratoga to start running his babies. In fact, this will be the first two year old that he’s started outside of Saratoga in 2022. There’s not much to go off from the dam, as she only ran once in her career and this is her first foal to race. I assume both horses will be bet in this spot. I prefer the Brown runner since she’s been based here all summer, but I’ll be looking elsewhere for the top pick. While I’m not crazy about debuting from the rail, I’m going to try the Jersey bred, Let Her Run (#1) on top. Eddie Owens has done very well at this meet with his debut runners. Two of his three two year olds have won on debut, including Great Navigator, who is a New Jersey bred that debuted in open company and went on to be second in the Sanford at Saratoga. This filly has been working well in the morning, getting back on the work tab last month after missing the month of June. The dam has produced six different winners, including Speaking, who dominated rivals in his debut last year. Beautiful Karla (#6) has a similar work pattern to Avila’s two year old filly debut winner two weeks ago. Her sire Ransom the Moon has yet to win with a debuting runner on dirt, and her dam hasn’t produced much in terms of quality. However, her works are very sharp from an outfit that is proven with first time starters. 

 

Race 4:

$20K-$18K N3L claimers sprint six furlongs in this race, which will start the Late Pick-5. I like Mystery Mo (#4) quite a bit in this spot, while cutting back from a one mile contest last out. He was sharp with better three starts back, finishing second that day. She was very wide two back, tiring late to be a beaten third when facing a tougher group. He tried two turns last out in starter allowance company and was done in by a stumbling start. He drops a level off from the claiming races he was running in and he should sit the perfect trip, just off the speed inside of him here. I’ll cover with Hide the Ransom (#3), trained by Jamie Ness, who won the nightcap here on Monday. He returned at Laurel off a lengthy layoff last month, finishing 4th, while tiring late. There will be others vying for the early lead, but I believe that he’s a faster gate horse than some of the others. He has a pair of nice works in Maryland and could be tough to catch late in this spot. 

 

Race 5:

The Win-Early Pick-5 wraps up with a $40K-$30K claiming contest at 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course. I’m taking Sunset Provision (#5) while routing on the turf for the first time today. He came out of the gate strong at Gulfstream this winter, running three strong races with maiden optional claiming company. Being a Florida bred, he was able to be entered with the waiver for those races. He ran twice on the synthetic in route races, showing improvement when doing that for a second time. He shipped here and ran poorly in a 5 and ½ furlong turf sprint against a good maiden special weight field. The winner of that race, Too Many Twizzlers, came back to run a tough trip 4th in the My Frenchman Stakes in his last start. He drops in class and goes to two turns, where he should be able to be on or near a slow to moderate pace on the front end. Highgate Road (#4) is another runner that is entered for a tag for the first time. He ran a strong race on debut in March at Tampa before struggling with a wide trip in a state bred maiden special weight company last out at Aqueduct. I don’t love that he’s dropping into a tag for the first time after two starts, but Michelle Hemingway has had a pair of winners for Newtown Anner Stud Farm with this type of drop in class, while racing for her for the first time. Tap the Candy (#2) has been knocking on the door at this level in his last two starts. He didn’t have the best of trips last out when he was over eager and was forced to steady in the early going. He had a wide draw that day, so gaining early position from the two-hole today should be an easier task. He has been gradually improving, but still needs to do a better job of finishing races. The rails being out at 36 feet and the speed favoring nature of this course when they’re at that position should help his cause. 

WIN-EARLY PICK-5 $54 Ticket

I’ll put together a $54 ticket without using a single in this sequence, knowing that there’s a decent chance that the also-eligible runner, Exaggerateddefence (#9, R1) doesn’t draw into the opener. I’m going to side against the Pletcher first timer, Hoax (#7), that I think will be well-backed in the 3rd race. If we can get through the first four legs, I’d feel very confident being alive to the trio of Tap the Candy (#2, R5), Highgate Red (#4, R5), and, Sunset Provision (#5, R5) in the final leg of the sequence. 

 

Race 6:

The last Pick-3 opportunity of the day begins with a conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for fillies and mares going 5 and ½ furlongs on the main track. I’m going to side with the two fillies that have the least experience in this race. Leah’s Legacy (#3) and Moving in Stereo (#7) are both coming off poor efforts in the same optional claiming/starter allowance race for three year old fillies at Delaware Park last month. Leah’s Legacy, who is my top pick, showed a bit of speed before backing up badly that day. She was very good on debut three starts ago when dominating a $12,500 maiden claiming field at Gulfstream in gate to wire fashion. She went to the turf for her second career try at Delaware, where she was a game second. She came back to the dirt, but clearly wasn’t her best self that afternoon. She has good early speed, which has always been a good weapon on this course when the temperature gets warmer. While there are others that want to be on the lead, I believe she’s the quickest of the quick in the scramble to make the front end. Moving in Stereo could be the one that is moving well from off the pace in this race. She is another one that was very good in her debut, which came on this course three starts ago. She has been disappointing in her next two starts though. She had a rough trip in allowance company here two back, and was very wide at Delaware last time out. Blinkers come off today, which may be the right recipe for her. Cabra Chica (#6) is a five time winner, taking on a field where no one else has won more than two starts. She was very good last out and drops a bit in class today for Kieron Magee. She’s not the most consistent runner though, never winning two starts in a row. Jeremy Rose coming to town to ride is a plus though. 

 

Race 7:

More filly and mare claimers go here, again running for a 12,500-10,500 tag, but this time restricted to non-winners of three races lifetime while going one mile on the turf. Rose E Holiday (#6) makes her second start off the layoff this afternoon for Luis Carvajal. He ran her with slightly better runners three weeks ago when going five furlongs on the turf. That was clearly a race to give her a chance to stretch her legs out. He drops her in class and brings her back to two turns where she finds a field where there are a lot of runners that want to be forwardly placed. She’ll need a well timed ride from Jorge Gonzalez, but I think she’s capable of upsetting this field. Love’s Misery (#2) makes her first local start for trainer Rob Atras. She’s coming in from New York and taking a sizable drop in class. Her last turf race at two turns was a gate to wire win at this distance with $30K N2L claimers at Aqueduct. She struggled to get her footing at Belmont and is likely not in form that is good enough to compete at Saratoga at the moment. She does make sense at this level though, and her forwardly placed style continues to play well when the rails are at this position. On deeper tickets, Along the Way (#1) is worth a shot while getting back to the turf. She broke her maiden on the grass on this course last summer. She’s coming off a dominating win two weeks ago with conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claimers on the dirt. I like this move to the turf from the leading trainer at the meet, Claudio Gonzalez. 

 

Race 8:

The Friday nightcap is for conditioned $16K-$14K claimers going six furlongs on the main track. Isle of Skye (#5) makes his third start off the claim and his third start of the meet. He tried the turf with better two starts back and never looked comfortable. He was fourth of four when facing significantly better foes in optional claiming/starter allowance company. The first and second place finishers of that race, Senate Chamber and Forty Stripes, would both lay over this field. The effort from Isle of Skye in that race was not terrible. He’s a lightly raced three year old that has more upside than most in this spot. You’ve got to respect anything that Claudio Gonzalez is sending out at the moment and he has Muggsy Malone (#6) here. He struggled with better last out when making his first start on this oval. He drops back to a similar level where he finished a strong second place two back at Laurel. Carlos Rojas, coming off a two win day on Monday, is getting more confident on the track, and bigger stables are supporting him. Ridiculous (#1) drops back to a more appropriate level after trying optional claiming/N1X allowance company in his most recent start. He’s a three time winner, finding the Winner’s Circle once already at this meet. He’s a rebound candidate this afternoon, while getting the services on Angel Rodriguez.

 

Meet Statistics:

Top Pick Winners:87/330 (26.4%) – $682.30/ $2.07 ROI

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