Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 8/5/23 – By Eric Solomon

Monmouth Park is hosting a new tournament this afternoon offering 2 seats to the NHC and 2 seats to the BCBC for the top four finishers. There’s $10,000 in cash prizes up for grabs in this hybrid tournament that can be played in person or online. There is a 25% cash prize bonus for all cash prizes won on site. The tournament consists of races from here and Saratoga this afternoon, giving players 22 races to wager on. There’s no limit on the amount of races someone can play, but to remain eligible, five races at Monmouth must be wagered on ($50 minimum). I’m planning on being on site this afternoon on what should be a gorgeous afternoon at the Jersey Shore. In addition, there was a 62-1 bomb in the nightcap yesterday that triggered a $15K+ carryover into the Win-Early Pick-5 pool. The local feature race today is the $100K Jersey Shore stakes for three year olds sprinting six furlongs. 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 3 3,4,6 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 5 5 9 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 3 1,3,6 4 DBL, PK3
4 8 4,8 7 DBL, PK3
5 1 1 3,7 6,8 DBL, PK3, PK6
6 4 4 6,7 DBL, PK3, PK5
7 8 1,2,8 4 DBL, PK3, PK4
8 7 7 1,2 DBL, PK3
9 1 1 2,13 DBL
10 7 2,3,7


Race 1:

$40-$30K filly and mare maiden claimers, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf will start the afternoon. There’s an interesting mix of unraced and lightly raced fillies taking on some professional maidens here. One Violent Affair (#3) makes a lot of sense in this racel, sprinting on grass for the first time. She drops in for a tag for the first time after failing to hit the board in five maiden allowance races to start her career. Her turf race two back going one mile at Tampa was solid and her dirt sprints there were also decent. She wasn’t herself last time when she dropped back early on and showed little interest in general. O’Connell gave her a little time and drops her in class, while moving her back to the turf. She’s the first foal to run from the mare Orient Harbor, who was strictly a turf sprinter in her career. She was 2-21 with both wins coming at Saratoga in maiden special weight and allowance company, competing at this same  5 and ½ furlong distance. Offspring of her sire Violence have won 14% of the time in turf sprints, so there are a lot of positive factors working in her favor. I don’t make a habit of playing 0-18 maidens on the A line in races like this, but I did like the return effort from Nickys Notion (#4) when making her first start of the year back on June 11th. She hit a career top figure while finishing a close third in maiden special weight company that afternoon. She was a vet scratch when she was entered at that level last month, but she’s worked well since. She drops in class, which is a non-issue to me, as she has run with a tag several times in her career. She was able to pair her Beyers in her first two starts off the layoff last year and she has finished second or third in 13 of her 18 career stats. She fits well with this field and conventional wisdom says she is a must use underneath in the vertical exotics. However, I have some serious questions about several runners in this field, so winning is certainly not out of the question today. Nice Baby (#6) makes her third start off the layoff for Darien Rodriguez this afternoon. She was closing well when she finished a close up third at this level when going five furlongs last month. She’s run credible races on all three surfaces, with her only poor effort coming in a race where she had significant trouble. 


Race 2:

This is an interesting $40K-$30K N3L claiming race with a pair of lightly raced runners coming in on two race win streaks. Prince Marco (#3) is going to draw a lot of attention after two huge efforts at Parx. He broke his maiden by a whopping 17 lengths in a seven furlong, $25K-$20K maiden claimers while entered with the waiver in February. He came back two months later in optional claiming/N2L allowance company where he was a winner by a measured length, putting up a gaudy 88 Beyer Speed Figure in a 1 mile and 70 yard race. He’s been on the sidelines since April and now drops in class in a race where he’s entered for a $40K tag.It’s not a resounding vote of confidence from his connections and I have questions about him at this distance. Road to Stardom (#5) on the other hand is moving up in class after two solid wins at this meet. He beat $40K-$30K maiden claimers back in May when making his first start since September of 2021. He came back to win as a heavy favorite with $30K-$25K N2L claimers. There isn’t a ton of speed to press him here and if Prince Marco does engage from the rail, I’m not sure how that one will respond to a battle. I think Road to Stardom is the way to go in this race, and I’m hoping to get a little value here, with more attention focused on the big speed figures from Prince Marco. Kattath (#9) is an interesting runner that could be on the scene late if the favorites duel each other into submission. He shipped to Oaklawn this winter from Southern California, and he promptly won, beating $30K-$25K N2L claimers. Lindsay Schultz claimed him and moved him up in class to a $50K starter allowance race going two turns. He drew post 12 that afternoon and had a miserable trip in general. Something also appeared to be amiss as he’s been sidelined since that race in January. He’s been working well for his return, and while he might need this race before we see his best, I do think he’d benefit from some type of pace meltdown. 


Race 3:

Two year olds will get to go two turns for the first time at the meet in this maiden special weight for fillies going one mile on the grass. I’m going to use Done Enough (#3) on top, making her second career start. She ran well to be second in her debut, despite breaking last after slamming into the side of the gate at the start. She was comfortable in behind horses and moved willingly in between horses when making an early run at the leader. Kitty’s Pretty, who was the race winner, set the pace and was able to kick clear in the stretch, while this filly was clearly second best. Her dam won three times routing on synthetic in her career and was a close up 5th in her lone turf try. She’s from the freshman crop of the sire, Flameaway, who was a winner of the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on the turf. Two of his first four runners have broken their maidens when going two turns on the turf at Ellis and Colonial. Madame Mischief (#1) was clearly second best when making her debut here last month. There was a spill in that race and she was forced to steady and go wide on the turn. Meanwhile, Lady d’Oro was able to steer clear of the trouble and was able to come through along the rail to win easily. Madame Mischief ran on well to be second that day and Lady d’Oro ran a strong second in the Colleen Stakes last week, showing that despite the kind maiden breaking  trip, she is definitely a runner. I see no issue with this one getting the two turn trip in this race. Isaac Castillo takes off this runner to ride Spendalot (#11), who is one two runners that Chad Brown is scheduled to unveil in this race. Spendalot is a full sister to Consumer Spending, who won the Grade 3 Eatontown and the Grade 3 Matchmaker at this meet for Brown. Her pedigree is there for sure and I get Castillo taking the mount here, as it certainly could be good for his personal business to ride for Brown while Camacho is healing. However, her connections paid $650K for this filly last year. Obviously being a broodmare is the endgame for this one, however, the far outside post and the fact that she’s not debuting at Saratoga, where she has been training, is concerning to me. I’ll side with the other Brown filly, Shade of Pale (#6), who is from the first crop of the former Brown trainee, Demarchelier. That one was undefeated before suffering an injury in the Belmont Derby, and ultimately being retired after that race. There’s turf pedigree all over the dam side as well and I like the fact that she has been based here. Brown has won with 30% of his two year maiden debut runners at two turns on the turf here at Monmouth in the last five years. On deeper tickets, I’ll include Marina Village (#4) for Kelly Breen. Her debut at five furlongs on the main track was uninspiring at best. However, she is a half to the Grade 1 winner, Simply Ravishing. That one broke her maiden at two turns on the turf at the Spa, so there’s reason to believe that this Speightster filly can move forward today. Paco Lopez heading over to my top pick is not ideal, however Trevor McCarthy, who is back to ride here again this Saturday, is more than capable, and his lone win here last weekend came at this distance on the turf. 


Race 4:

$10K maiden claimers go one mile on the main track here. I see Perspicacious Boy (#8) as the one to beat in this race. He debuted against an unusually strong foe at this level two starts back. He finished third, beaten 12 lengths that day, while putting up a Beyer Speed Figure that is likely good enough to win this race. He regressed a bit first off the claim when facing $25K-$20K maiden claimers last month, however, he didn’t have a great trip that day. He broke awkwardly, and then was uncomfortable when racing in between and in behind a tightly grouped pack. He forced his way out the outside and moved early while trying to get to a more accomplished leader. He came up empty in the stretch that day, finishing 5th. I think the outside post should be helpful, even if it means that he might concede some ground loss early. If Batista can minimize that loss, I think he’s the one to beat at this level. West Star (#4) is a professional maiden that is dropping to the lowest level of racing in his career, while also going two turns for the first time. The second and third place finishers of his last race came back to break their maidens in their next starts. He’s run better races when going one turn miles in New York. He has finished in the money in 6 of his 10 career starts and this is the softest field that he’s seen to date. On deeper tickets, I’ll use Lidia’s Prayer (#7) as a saver. She might have the speed to clear from an outside post in this race. She held on to be third last out when setting the tempo. She has six career starts and has never encountered a fast track, which could be a reason to upgrade her. Her rider, Gherson Huayas has lost his weight allowance as an apprentice, and has struggled mightily on this course. He’s shown he can win some races, winning 8% on the year with 432 mounts. However, he’s 0-38 at this meet thus far, hitting the board only three times. He’s had some lousy mounts, but he’s struggled with some capable horses as well. I like him on paper, but I am concerned about the rider and the kind of trip he’ll be able to work out.


Race 5:

Conditioned $40K-$30K filly and mare claimers will travel 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf course in the last leg of the Win-Early Pick-5. Bletchley Girl (#3) is the only two-time winner in the field, whereas all the others qualify under the N2L condition. Horses are coming into this race from a variety of different class levels, making this quite a handicapping puzzle. I was trying to find alternatives to both Cocoa Icing (#6) and Girly the Butcher (#8). Both are logical in this race, but I think both will be overvalued. If you draw a line through the race two back from Cocoa Icing where she put up a huge figure in N1X allowance company, her other running lines look very ordinary. Girly the Butcher won for the first time in 20 starts last out when beating an overmatched maiden claiming field. She’s a consistent type, but one that I prefer underneath. Both will be backed up with on some of the deeper multi-race tickets for me. I landed on Cumberland Falls (#1) shipping here from Belmont for Kent Sweezy. She was a winner with maiden special weight types on the dirt at the start of the meet. Sweezy shipped her to New York where she struggled in two starter allowance races on the turf. I think the class relief should be a plus, along with drawing the rail for this race. Both Bletchley Girl and Fast Mule (#7) dueled to the finish last out with $16K-$14K claimers, with Bletchley Girl getting the narrow advantage. While both are moving up in class, I think both of these fillies have some upside. Bletchley Girl was claimed by Matthew Ciamei, who recently won his first race as a trainer with a horse first off the claim. She showed promise in her first turf start after being far behind in the early stages, but closed well to get into 7th. Isaac Castillo kept her within contact of the field early last time and won the stretch battle over Romero Maragh and Fast Mule. She was making her two turn and her turf debut in that race and she seemed right at home. She ran a career best figure and I could see her running back to that race while facing tougher foes here. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $72 Ticket:

With the $15K carryover heading into this sequence, we’ll stretch the budget a little bit and play a larger all A/B ticket here. This is a tough one today where it’s not easy to nail down a single. The two horses that I guess would be my strongest opinions in these races would be Road to Stardom (#5, R2) and Cumberland Falls (#1, R5). If there are some scratches along the way, I’ll re-evaluate before punching the ticket. 


Race 6:

The Late Pick-5 starts with a conditioned $5K claiming race contested at 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. I’m going to take Off the Meds (#4) on top in this race, shipping back here from Parx and taking a low key drop in class. He was a wide 4th with $5K N2Y claimers last month at Parx, but the day after that race was contested, he became eligible for the N1Y condition, which is typically much softer competition than the N2Y level. He’s a closer and that kind of move has played well on this course over the last few weeks. I think he can improve at this level. All of the wagering attention is likely to go to Alcools (#6) coming off a narrow defeat with open $10K claimers at Belmont. He was claimed out of that race by Robert Falcone, who has great numbers first off the claim. This is a decent drop in class though, and while the profit margins are narrow with a win and a claim, they do exist. His last Beyer Speed Figure of 80 would dominant this field, however, that was likely inflated due to the off track. His recent average figure still puts him at the head of the class here. I don’t see much value, but he’s hard to leave off your tickets. Meru (#7) is an interesting runner in this race, coming off a decent effort at Parx last time out with $7,500 N4L claimers. All three of his career wins came on this oval, with his most recent score coming here last July. He went off form for a while, struggling since being claimed by Felix Flores-Coba, however, he may have turned a corner in his last race. I don’t love the 3-1 morning line odds, but he’s playable, especially if he’s overlooked in the wagering. 


Race 7:

This is a wide open $16K-$14K conditioned claiming race. Triple Start (#8) is the horse that I made as the top pick before the morning line odds came out. I don’t love that he’s the favorite in this spot, and I’m not convinced he will be favored when they load into the starting gate though. He is an improving three year old who was a winner at this level last out. He’s one of only two multiple winners in this field with Westover (#10) being the other. He was able to be forwardly placed, avoiding the trouble that kept him out of the Winner’s Circle in his previous two tries at this level. I see him as the horse to beat and I’ll keep him as the top pick, but I’m intrigued with possible value from both Sailor’s Return (#1) and Gratia Prince (#2). Sailor’s Return (#1) gets a favorable draw for his first start off the Pompeyo Gomez claim. His effort four starts ago at this level in May, would put him right in the thick of things here. He’ll be overlooked with Richard Mitchell riding, but as I mentioned yesterday, he’s an underrated rider that doesn’t make huge mistakes. He rarely finds himself on top horses, but when he gets a horse that can be competitive at the right level, he will usually get the most out of that runner. I think this one is more effective on grass and should be able to benefit from a ground saving trip coming out of the chute and into the first turn. Gratia Prince makes his first start since April and his first as a gelding. He was competitive this winter with straight three year olds in optional claiming/starter allowance races at Tampa. He drops in class and should fit well at this level. He might need this one, but I think he’s a fresh face that makes a lot of sense here. On deeper tickets, it’s all going to be about value with Couth (#4) and Paco Lopez. I’m very comfortable playing him at his 6-1 morning line, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bet down to closer to 3-1 in this race. He’s lightly raced and dropping in class. He was claimed for $30K at Keeneland three back when breaking his maiden handily with maiden claimers there. His last two starts against winners have not been good, finishing 7th, beaten 13 and ¼ lengths both times. This is a steep drop in class as he returns to turf for this first time since a trouble filled debut at the Spa. His pedigree leans grass and he could be able to make a relatively easy lead in this race though. I think he’ll get a favorable trip and I’m much more willing to find out if he’s good enough at 6-1 or better as opposed to 3-1. 


Race 8, The $100K Jersey Shore Stakes:

This six furlong dash is loaded with speed, so if this field stays intact, I’m looking for a horse that might be able to be rolling late. Swirvin (#7) hasn’t been that horse in the past, but he offered hints that he might be able to be that horse last time out. I thought his effort in the Carry Back at Gulfstream, going seven furlongs, was better than it looked on paper. He’s a very sharp gate horse and he made the lead rather easily, while setting quick fractions. Around the ½ mile marker, Super Chow (#6) made an early run while wide and assumed command. It looked like Swirvin was ready to throw in the towel as he backpedaled quickly. The PP lines have him 4 lengths behind at the next point of call, but I think at one point he was closer to 10 lengths behind the leader, as he was off the screen. He was able to re-rally, and came within 1 length and quarter of the winner when finishing 4th that day. While they came home on the slower side, I liked the grit and tenacity he showed to keep fighting when he looked absolutely defeated. I think if Trevor McCarthy is able to get him to relax off the early leaders in this race, he is going to be awfully tough to deal with in the final furlong. At 7-2 or better, he’s the Monmouth Park Bet of the Day for me, and most of my multi-race wagers are going to go through him. Brad Cox sends out Squire Creek (#2), who will be one of the two runners that I’ll back up with. He’s run four straight upper 80’s Beyer figures, winning his first two starts and finishing behind nice sprinters like Drew’s Gold and Ryvit in his last two starts. I would like to see a little more progression from him, and I’m concerned that he’s not the same horse when he doesn’t make the lead. Isaac Castillo rode four winners with eight starters for Cox at Oaklawn at their 22-23 meet, so that limited success has earned him a nice mount in a race like this. Recruiter (#1) hasn’t shown the same ability at three that we saw from him as a two year old. However he did break his maiden on this course and is returning for the first time since. 8-1 felt very high on the morning line, but at those odds, I’d be tempted to take a shot with him. I would like to see if Paco Lopez is able to get him to stalk the frontrunners despite his inside draw. 


Race 9:

The final turf contest of the day is an open $12,500-$10,500 claiming race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16. This race runs through Pugilist (#1) who has been very tough at this level. She just missed when making an early move for home back in May. Darien Rodriguez claimed her and had her face a much sharper field of boys at this same level on the Haskell undercard. She was closing well late to be third, but she’ll be getting significant class relief, despite the fact it appears she’s staying at the same level. If we’re able to get her close to her 2-1 morning line, that feels fair for me. Current Situation (#13) will need a defection in order to participate, but she’s got some upside if she does run. She’ll have to work out a trip from post 11, which is no picnic when coming out of the chute. However, she does have some early speed and might not have to work too hard and lose that much ground to be on or near the lead. Her last two races at Parx were poor, but one was in an off the turf race. She has other races that would be competitive at this level with this group. Speed Salsa (#2) is a horse that has struggled to find an identity, but she always seems to show up and run her race. She drops in class and should be the main danger to Pugilist, however, I’m not sure her best is enough to beat the favorite with all things being equal. I need the price differential to move farther apart with her at 5-2 on the morning line. 


Race 10: 

The nightcap is a wide open $40K-$30K maiden claiming at six furlongs. There’s some professional maidens taking on some new faces in this spot. When looking at first time starters in maiden claiming races, I do like to see what the trainers have done with horses debuting at the maiden claiming level. Both Jorge Duarte, trainer of Polish Up (#1) and Kelly Breen, trainer of It’s Birdie Birdie (#7) have had recent success with horses in that category. When doing a deeper dive in Race Lens on those trainers, all of Duarte’s maiden claiming debut winners have been two year olds. Conversely, all of Breen’s maiden claiming debut winners were three or older when they ran. With that being the condition today, I’ll use It’s Birdie Birdie as the top pick, getting Trevor McCarthy to ride. Her works have been solid enough and her dam’s only other foal to race was a nine length winner on debut earlier this year. Al’s Frosted (#2)has paired his Beyers in his first two starts at this level ,so there’s reason to believe that he could be sitting on a career top effort this afternoon. He’s shown some speed and faded in both of those races, so it will be interesting to see what tactics Nik Juarez will employ today while riding for the first time. Duke of Gloucester (#3) is one of the professional maidens in this race, making his 13th career start this afternoon. He’s come close, finishing in the money five times, all while facing maiden special weight or stakes company. His figures are better than the rest of the group, so he clearly fits at this level. He has faltered as a heavy favorite before though. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 73/318 (23.0%) – $508.60/$1.60 ROI


Joe Orseno continues to win with the limited runners that he’s brought to Monmouth this season, and he notched another victory with Soze in a two year old maiden special weight race yesterday. This was a solid debut effort from this Maximus Mischief colt. He did go off as the 3-2 favorite, with the Todd Pletcher Saratoga shipper, Bo Valentine as the 2-1 second choice. That one was never really involved, finishing 4th, six lengths behind the winner. I’ll likely be trying to beat Saratoga based debut runners from these high profile barns for the remainder of the meet. We have Spendalot (#11) in the third race today that fits that category for Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher has Judgement (#12) who is the first to draw in off the AE list. Neither of these horses will be on my tickets. There’s also a few of these horses tomorrow in the first and the fifth races.


One horse that I’ll be looking to bet back out of this race is Idle Union. He broke poorly, and found himself well out of it at the first call. However, he closed a decent amount of ground and was very game to get into third place, just ahead of Bo Valentine. We often see horses that struggle at the start in their debut come back and run a much stronger race in their second career start, so if he gets the chance before the end of the meet, I’ll likely be interested. 

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