Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 8/6/23 – By Eric Solomon

There’s a 10 race card that will wrap up another strong week of racing at Monmouth Park .The program is highlighted by the Incredible Revenge Stakes, which is for fillies and mares, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. First post for the Sunday 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 9 6,9 2,8 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 6 5,6 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 9 8,9 4,10 DBL, PK3
4 5 1,5 DBL, PK3
5 2 2 1 9 DBL, PK3, PK6
6 8 6,8 DBL, PK3, PK5
7 7 4,7,8 2 DBL, PK3, PK4
8 5 5,10 9 2 DBL, PK3
9 2 2 4 DBL
10 7 3,4,7


Race 1:

The day will commence with a maiden special weight race for two year olds going one mile on the turf. This race oversubscribed and was split into two divisions, with the second division carded as the 5th race on the program. I’ve written a lot about my trepidation about using the Saratoga based two year olds shipping here in the middle of their meet for big barns, and both Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher have a runner that fits that mold in this race. Brown sends out Gaining Acceptance (#1) and Pletcher sends out Nomos (#2) in this race. Both have been up at the Spa since May, and have been working steadily, with some drills on the turf as well. I’m not seeing a ton of turf pedigree with Gaining Acceptance, so despite Brown’s stellar record at this meet, I’ll be leaving him off the ticket. Nomos is one that I’ll back up with, as his full sister, Soviet Excess, was a close up 4th on debut for Pletcher in a sprint, and she has been competitive in all of her turf routes, including a third place finish in the WIld Applause Stakes at Belmont in her last start. I would still prefer to see her debut at the Spa, but I don’t see a ton of horses in this race that are built to debut in this kind of race. One horse that I think will definitely be flying under the radar is Midnite Lumberjack (#9) for John Stephens, and he’ll be my top pick in this race. The dam has had five runners make it to the track and all five have won at least once. Her foal that has had the most success on grass is Machtree, who won on debut in a two turn turf race at the Spa and was also stakes placed. The dam herself was graded stakes placed and only finished off the board once in ten starts, all on synthetics in Southern California. John Stephens won with El Conejito in a two turn turf race for two year olds last year, going off at 8-1. Midnight Lute is a low key solid turf sire that gets 14% winners in turf routes. He’s had 11 horses over the last five years debut in two turn races on turf, with three winners. (Interestingly enough, if Portis (#4) starts, he’ll have two debut runners in this race). There is definitely some sprinter speed in his pedigree, so I wonder if Ferrer, who is an excellent gate jockey, may try to put him on the lead from his outside draw. Dr Schuster (#6) is a second time starter for Juan Avila, who looks like he could be live in this race. The only runner from his dam to have won a race, won it at Belmont on the turf. His sire, Collected, gets 14% winners in turf routes. He was wide in his debut, which came against state bred maiden special weight runners, going five furlongs on the dirt at Belmont. I do think he’ll improve with the added distance. J.T. Three (#8) is a full brother to the multiple stakes winning Pa Bred sprinter, Fortheloveofbourbon. That gelding ended his five year old season with six consecutive wins, four of which came in stakes races. He only tried the turf once, which came in a $50K claimer at Churchill back in 2020. He ran a competitive 4th in that race where he was claimed by his current connections, for whom he won the bulk of his $571K in career earnings. J.T. Three has finished off the board against state bred maiden allowance types in his first two starts, but those efforts weren’t awful. This seems like a good time to take a chance in a race like this to see if he can handle the lawn.


Race 2:

There’s not many runners that excel in one turn sprints in this $7,500-$6,500 N3L claiming race, which is a bit of an oddity for a six furlong race here. Smooth Rico (#6) was a winner three back with $7,500-$6,500 N2L claimers, gutting out a game victory in a prolonged stretch duel. He was a part of a pace battle with better horses two starts back, where he faded to 5th, and he struggled as the heavy favorite in the slop at this level in his most recent try. He figures to get a fast track today and he faces some horses that seem to be better in longer races. Souper Royal Moon (#5) feels like the main danger to the top pick. He was a strong winner three back at Gulfstream when clearing the N2L claiming condition. His two races since being claimed by Carlos Perez weren’t as sharp though. He struggled as a longshot with a much sharper group at the $16K-$14K N3L level when he ran here last week. That race likely helped from a fitness standpoint and the drop in class should prove to be beneficial. 


Race 3:

Open $22K-$18K claimers are going 1 mile and 1/16 in this turf contest. I don’t love the draw, but I’m interested in Harpoon Harry (#9) on the drop in class here. He has the speed to clear this field if he can break cleanly today. I wrote about his troubles in detail after struggling with N1X allowance types when facing a loaded field on Haskell Day. He broke slow and then was forced to be 6 wide throughout the entire first turn. Ferrer was left with little choice but to make a break for the lead early, but he folded late as talented runners with much better trips passed him with ease. He has not had the success locally that he had at Tampa this winter and spring. However his last two turf starts were not ideal. He was pressed into a pace battle in a race that was won by Catnip, who went on to win the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes and was second best in the Grade 1 United Nations. His early speed is his best weapon and I think there’s a chance for him to be able to use that effectively at this level. Artie’s Angel (#8) stole a race at this level when going nine furlongs last month. He doesn’t typically show early speed, but Paco Lopez read the room and when no one wanted the lead, he took it, and never looked back. This runner is dangerous because he can win from any part of the track. He might have been a little fresh last out when making his first start sinceOctober, but he looked as sharp as ever. Paco Lopez has been in the saddle for his last three victories and he gets the return call today. Cabinet Pik (#4) loves this course, but has not had the same amount of success this year as he did last season. However, he was a winner with open $12,500-$10,500 claimers two back. He tried N1X company last out and had a miserable trip in the same race the Harpoon Harry is coming out of. While he’s been a beast at the $12,500 level, we’ll see how he fares here. He should get a good trip, breaking inside of several other contenders. The Peninsula (#10) just missed when closing from off the pace in the race that Artie’s Angel won last month. He is also coming out of the same allowance race where he encountered some trouble as well. The lowered Beyer figures from the horses in that race are not a huge concern as many horses simply weren’t able to run their race. I do think that could add a little value to some of those runners here.


Race 4:

Fillies and mares sprint six furlongs in this optional claiming/starter allowance race. Rose E Holiday (#5) has run her last two races at two turns, but she seems to be better suited to sprinting, which is what she’ll get to do here. She just missed three starts ago when facing a sharp group of $10K starter allowance foes here in May. She ran into a beast two back when facing N1X company and she faded late as the favorite with $5K starter allowance company when gouging two turns last time out. She’s never finished off the board on this oval, and despite not winning in three tries  at this distance, she hit the board each time. Cabra Chica (#1) figures to be the main danger here. She ships in from her Parx home base after several strong efforts in a row. She finished first once and second twice in her last three starts with similar company at Delaware and Parx. She has a win over this course in 2022 when facing $12,500 N3L claimers. She’s visited the Winner’s Circle three times since and is well-spotted to make a run at another local victory. 


Race 5:

The Win-Early Pick-5 is bookended by maiden special weight races for two year olds on the turf. The runners in this division have a little more racing experience, as six of the ten runners that are entered have at least one race under their belts. Pletcher and Brown are both represented with a first time starter. John the Baptist (#1) for Brown has been based here since May, where Adventurous Spirit (#5) has been at Saratoga since June. Paco Lopez opted to ride the Pletcher firster in the opener, but he opts to ride Noble Wave (#2) for George Weaver in this race. Weaver is absolutely loaded with two year olds this year, especially on the grass. He’s started 17 two year olds in turf races, and has wins in 9 of those races. He’s coming off a weekend where his two years, Amidst Waves and No Nay Mets, swept the two year old turf stakes here. This one was recently 5th in a two turn turf race at Saratoga. While this one is clearly not at the top of Weaver’s list in his barn of talented babies, I think his experience gives him a significant advantage here. Blinkers go on for the first time, which could also be a plus as he breaks near the inside in this race. John the Baptist is a logical alternative, making his career debut. His half brother lost in a photo in his debut at this level at Tampa and was third when having to navigate post 12 there in his second start at Gulfstream. More Than Ready has 14% winners on turf over the past five years, but he’s only won with 8% of his debuting runners on grass in that span. I think the post is a plus and I like that he’s been based locally. Brown has sent several horses over the last several years that have been based here and have gone on to be very talented runners. Wonderfinn(#9) has been based here for Shug McGaughey and will make his debut. McGaughey has had some tough luck at this meet, winning only once with 23 starters, however, 15 others have finished in the money, so it’s not like his runners aren’t live. The dam has foaled three runners that have all shown ability on turf. They have all been competitive in their debuts, but didn’t end up winning. Justify’s runners have won 18% of the time on the turf and they’ve 13% of time when debuting on grass. I will cover with him on deeper tickets, but I think I’ll like him better next time out. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $64 Ticket:

I see the first two turf races in this sequence as wide open races that could easily produce some prices, so I am looking for coverage there. The other three races feel like they could be very formful and the George Weaver two year old, Noble Wave (#2, R5) would be where I’d likely single if I were looking to pare down this ticket. 


Race 6:

We’ll roll right into the Late Pick-5 with a $7,500-$6,500 conditioned claiming race for three year olds and up, going six furlongs. Trophy Room (#3) is the only multiple winner in the race, where the other eight runners all qualify under the N2L condition. Golden Code (#6) is the mystery in this race. He was a 10 length state bred maiden special weight winner at Aqueduct last winter and finished third behind Morello in the Gotham in his next start. However, he hasn’t sniffed the Winner’s Circle since in what has been a stop and start run for him over the last 15 months. He was third two starts back in state bred allowance company before faltering badly at nine furlongs in his last start. He was a vet scratch at this level last month and now runs for Kent Sweezy. His only awful efforts came in nine furlong races in New York. If he can run back close to any of his one turn efforts, he’s likely going to win this race. I’ll use him on the A line because this is by far the softest field he’s seen. However, I’ll try to beat him with Wasabi Boy (#8), making his first start against winners. He seemed to get back on track when stalking the pace and scoring with $12,500-$10,500 maiden claimers last month. This feels like the appropriate spot to try winners and I think his ability to rate will prove beneficial as he moves on. 


Race 7:

New Jersey breds go one mile on the turf in this optional $15K/N1X allowance race. I’m interested in seeing what the six year old, What’s Up Mr. Z (#7) can do at two turns in this race. He was sharp in some turf sprints last year, breaking his maiden in his first start off the layoff, then running two strong races at this level. He struggled in the Joey P. Stakes before going on the shelf until this season. His first two starts this year have been disappointing, but his last was in an off the turf race. His dam was a winner at two turns on the turf a few times in her career and Il Postino has sired 8% winners on grass in the last five years. He seems to be one of the longer prices that could be capable of upsetting this group. Irish Rill (#4) gets some post relief after starting in the 10 hole in his last two starts. He was able to overcome that when breaking his maiden two back, and his stablemate, Go to the Kingdom certainly flattered him when winning handily last weekend. I think he’ll be more competitive this afternoon in a spot where he should be able to work out a better trip. Duquesne (#7) keeps firing big efforts, but keeps coming up a bit short at this level. One Time Willard, who beat him last out, just missed with N2X allowance types on Friday’s card. He’s been knocking on the door in his first two starts of the year and it could simply just be his turn in this spot. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with morning line favorite, Grouch (#2). He ran a big effort in his turf debut, fading late to be third after doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the front end. He’s finished in the money in all four of his career starts and is having a very productive meet. I feel he’ll be overbet in this spot against some more accomplished runners, so there might be better value elsewhere. 


Race 8:

The final Pick-3 of the afternoon begins with an optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs. This race drew an interesting field 10, many of which are evenly matched in this spot. I do think the opening quarter mile could be hotly contested in this race, so a horse like Your Inheritance (#5) could benefit from that scenario. She has been a bit dull in her last two starts, but I do think she’s eligible to rebound. She didn’t want the two turns in her last race and the field she was up against on 6/18 was stronger than this group. Her efforts at Gulfstream were stronger, and perhaps she’s a horse for course like that. She might also be a little better and 6 and ½ or 7 furlong races, which aren’t an option here at Monmouth. I do think we haven’t seen her best race locally yet, and I’m willing to try her at 6-1 (ML) or better. David Jacobsen sends out Starship Defiant (#10) in her first start off the claim today. She comes in from Santa Anita where she cleared the state bred N1X condition two starts ago. She stayed at the same level, but was entered with the tag. She faded late that day to finish 4th when going one mile. She cuts back to six furlongs today, where she has run well in the past. She’s a new face that adds intrigue to this one. Emirates Affair (#9) is the morning line favorite with Paco Lopez in the saddle. She was entered in a five furlong turf sprint at this level at Delaware yesterday, and was stuck on the AE list. I do think Mosco wants to get her back on the turf, as her last start was washed off the grass at Parx. I’m not sure if that means that this race is the backup plan, which is never ideal for a favorite. However,  Ido think her running style could play very well with the group, so if she’s running, I want to make sure I’m covered with her. Worst Behaviour (#2) got sucked into a four horse duel when breaking from the outside in her first try against winners last month at Parx. She faded late to finish 5th that day, however her maiden breaking score two starts back would be very competitive at this level. I do worry that others are faster in the early stages, and I’m not completely sold that she can adapt. I do see her having some upside though, enough to back up with her on deeper plays.


Race 9, The $100K Incredible Revenge Stakes:

Fillies and mares sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf will be highlighted on this card today. On paper, this one sets up as a showdown between stakes winner, Train to Artemus (#4) and the flashy newcomer, All That Magic (#2). Train to Artemus is definitely better at five furlongs as opposed to this 5 and ½ furlongs she’s getting here, however, that certainly didin;t stop her when she was the easy winner of the Goldwood Stakes here two starts back. She shipped to Colonial where she was a dull third in stakes company at this distance. Meanwhile, All That Magic has been awesome in her three turf starts, winning all three, and putting up big figures while doing so. All three of those races came at five furlongs, as opposed to today’s distance, so getting the extra distance could be a challenge. She handled a course at Penn National two back that had some give to it, so there’s reason to believe that she’ll be able to carry her speed. She probably won’t have to go 20:4 in this race, and if she can navigate the chute, I think she’ll be a tough customer to run down. I do think Train to Artemus is the most likely horse to run down the top pick, and if the odds reverse, I may upgrade this accomplished filly who has 9 wins in 17 career starts. 


Race 10:

We’ll wrap up the week with a conditioned $5K claiming race where all seven runners qualify under the N1Y condition. We had a longshot blow up the toteboard in the nightcap on Friday, and I can make a case for the longest shot on the board in this race. Harold Wyner re-claimed the eight year old gelding, Magnetron (#7), after two dull starts with Brenda Wilson. While he never put him in the Winner’s Circle, this horse was in much better form when Wyner was his conditioner. He just missed with tougher at Parx on April 11th and he was a competitive third there in June when he was claimed away from Wyner. He’s been a productive horse, winning five times from 66 starts, but finishing on the board in 27 other races. This is a wide open event, so I’ll gladly take a shot with him at a price here. Returning to Monmouth should be a welcome change for R Goodtime Charlie (#3). He’s been based at Parx for almost two full years. He was a regular here in 2021 though, winning twice and finishing in the money three other times in six total starts. He’s been in the thick of things in his last several tries, so I think the return to the shore will do him good. Bee by the Sea (#4)closed well to be second with similar at Penn National last out. He was making his first start on the dirt in a while that evening. This is probably the right level for him, but it is worth nothing that he’s never won a race on a dirt course. He does have five second place finishes in eight tries though, so there’s reason to believe he could have a breakthrough here. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 75/327 (22.9%) – $519.40/$1.59 ROI


Our bet of the week at Monmouth Park, Swirvin, got the job done, handily winning the Jersey Shore Stakes for Trevor McCarthy and Saffie Joseph on Saturday. I’ll have a full recap of the card and the Handicapping Tournament at Monmouth later on this week.

One thing to keep in mind when betting the dirt races today is that early speed on the rail has been struggling mightily. Every winner in the five dirt races was at least three wide going into the far turn. This is a trend to keep an eye on and if the track starts playing more fair in the final weeks of the meet, some of the horses that got buried on the rail in the last two weeks, might offer some value in their next start. 

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