It’s another strong day of racing at Monmouth Park as there’s an 11 race Sunday afternoon card on tap. The featured race is the Incredible Revenge Stakes, which is a 5 and ½ furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares. The third leg of the Malouf Auto Group Starter Series is also carded today. That is a nine furlong turf contest with an overflow field in the starter handicap. First post is 12:15 (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!
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The day starts with a maiden special weight race for three year olds and up, sprinting 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. Jerry’s Turn (#6) is likely to be the heavy favorite once again in his 19th career start. He showed some grit last out when battling back after looking like he was done, only to lose in a photo, finishing second for the 7th time in his career. He burned a good deal of money, going off at 11-10 that day. While I’ll cover with him again since he’s not facing the strongest bunch, I have to try to beat him. Empire Sky (#1) is coming out of the same race, and finished about two lengths behind Jerry’s Turn when making his debut last out. He was a little slow into stride, but he was finishing with interest. Kathleen DeMasi has hit with 17% of her second time starters, and she has good numbers with turf sprinters in general. I’m expecting a better performance today, where I think he’s going to be able to make up the ground on the favorite. Captain Quick (#5) is interesting in here as well. He’s made three starts, two in dirt routes and one in a turf sprint. He stumbled from the gate in the turf sprint when facing a very good runner, Too Many Twizzlers, that day. He was widest of all that day, leaving the chute in the four path and fanning out wide on the turn. His sire, Vancouver wins with 15% of his turf sprinters. His dam, Spun Silver, broke her maiden on synthetic when sprinting, and her foals have been most successful in sprints. She’s foaled, Sirenusa, who won both of her turf sprints in her career and was a two time stakes winner on the grass at one mile. I think this is the kind of race where he will do his best running.
$30K-$25K N3L claimers go six furlongs here. This race is all about Forty Stripes (#3) for me. He came up short against Senate Chamber in a four horse race where the winner had a definite tactical advantage. He was very good when dropping to a similar level two starts back where he scored his second career victory. He was not very good in Arkansas this year, but he’s returned to his better form since coming back to Monmouth. When looking at the other contenders, I don’t like the cutback in distance for Caerus (#5) in this spot. He’s never run anything less than two turns and this feels like an odd spot for that experiment. Vikram (#6) makes his first start off the Jeffrey Englehart claim, after dominating a field of $16K N2L claimers at Belmont back in June. Englehart has great numbers, but he’s been ice cold at this meet. It’s hard to trust anything from this barn on this oval at the moment.
This is a very good N1X allowance race for three year olds going 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track where you could make a case for six of the seven runners. I’m going to try to beat Todd Pletcher’s Commandperformance (#5) here. He finally broke his maiden against an average field last out. His stablemate, who finished second, beat a lesser field last out at short odds, but I’m not yet a believer that this horse is going to fully live up to his expectations. I think others here have more upside and will be better prices at the windows. Global Sensation (#7) was very good winning on debut for Michael Stidham and Goldolphin. He led from gate to wire at Delaware when facing a decent field for the condition there. He’s been working well at Fair Hill and looks like another quality runner from the team that campaigned Dubai World Cup Winner Mystic Guide. Senate Chamber (#2) continues to move up in class and is trying a route for the first time after a pair of sprints. However, his two races at this meet have been very good. He’s sired by Union Rags. All three of the dams runners have been winners on track, one of which won a stakes race and another which was stakes placed. I think he’ll be competitive at this level of competition. Affable Monarch (#1) is coming out of a very fast race against older runners on the Haskell undercard. He was moving well late that day to get into 4th on a track that was very kind to front end speed. I don’t think the pace will be that aggressive today, but I think it will be honest. I’d like to see Jairo Rendon keep him a little closer, using his rail post to his advantage. Tallahatchie Bridge (#5) is coming off a decent effort at Churchill when trying the dirt for the first time in a solid 1 Mile 3/16 allowance race. He was beaten by some very sharp older runners that day, so this is definite class relief. He recorded his best career speed figure on dirt that day, so there’s reason to believe he can compete with this group.
This is a very competitive $12,500 starter allowance going 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. I’m not sure why this is labeled a $12,500 starter allowance when the conditions are for horses that have started for a $16K or less and have not won a race in 2022. Paco Lopez, in his first full day back from suspension, gets the call on Like What I See (#4). He’s a versatile seven year old gelding that has been very sharp on this course. He’s hit the board in 10 of 12 career starts here, winning three of them. He’s been knocking on the door in his last two starts and he’s getting some class relief in this spot today. Crack Shot (#5) is coming out of a key race where the winner, Break Through, came back to win a stakes race and the runner up, Bam Bam Blu., came back to win in allowance company. He finished 4th that day, running home with interest after having to tap on the brakes when the hole he was aiming for closed up. He’s run well, finishing 4th in his last three starts when facing better. Fair Catch (#1) has struggled in his last two starts, one of which came in sloppy conditions, and the other which was on a good course. He was very good at the end of his four year old season, winning three straight races in turf sprints before finishing 5th in the King Leatherbury Stakes. If he can revert back to his better form, he’ll be right there with this group.
I’m going to try Hizaam (#2) on the quick turnaround and drop in class in this open $5K claimer. Two of his last three races have come at Parx in some very salty starter allowance races there. He went off at huge odds in both races and never was a factor. He drops back to $5K claimers while taking an hour ride to the Jersey Shore. His races back in May and June with restricted claimers would put him right there with this group. At 10-1 on the morning line, I’d be willing to take a shot on him reversing his current form. Flipping Fish (#3) has been very good since joining Jose Delgado’s barn via claim two starts ago. He’s finishing third in a pair of starter allowance races on this oval. He drops back into claiming company, where he’ll likely be a popular commodity in the claiming box, He’s hit the board in five straight starts and has a win under his belt at this meet back in May. Bailey (#1) comes in off a score in the mud with time restricted $8K-$7K claimers. I appreciate his tenacity as there wasn’t a lot that went right for him in that race. He didn’t break cleanly, and he was forced to swing four wide, but he surged late to get the job done. He comes here in good form and is another live runner in this spot.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5: $54 Ticket:
I feel confident using Forty Stripes (#3, R2) in the second race. I think he fits at that level and I think the main threats in that race are both vulnerable. I’ll spread out in the other four legs, trying to beat Todd Pletcher’s Commandperformance (#5, R3) in the middle leg of the sequence, hopefully creating some value with this wager.
Conditioned $16K-$14K filly and mare claimers sprint 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. Makin It Look Easy (#6) and Mercury Head (#3) were the last two winners of the last two races at this condition here, and both of these three year old fillies make sense in this race today. I think Makin It Look Easy has a slight tactical advantage over her rivals today. She is making her third start on grass at this level. She pressed a hot pace in her first turf try when she was beaten by Mercury Head. She was more relaxed last time out, rating off the pace, with a perfectly timed ride by Jomar Torres to nail the heavy favorite, Zuboshi (#7) on the wire. Both Mercury Head and Zuboshi want to be on the lead here, so if Makin It Look Easy can be comfortable while they battle early, the door should be open for a repeat. I Mercury Head was a winner in her turf debut, beating some of these last month. She skipped the same race at this condition two weeks later and now makes her third start off the layoff this afternoon. I see her having more upside than Zuboshi here and she’ll likely be a better price. Ballet School (#2) is one of the longer prices in this spot that is intriguing to me. She ran once on the turf when going two turns in third career start and finished 9th. Despite being sired by Orb, her best races have been sprints. Her dam has produced a two time turf winner and was a two time turf winner herself. Her grand dam was the Grade 1 winning sprinter on dirt, Dream Supreme, so there’s reason to believe that she can factor in a turf sprint. Zuboshi will be one that I’ll cover on deeper tickets. She’s the mild morning line favorite, and with the Paco Lopez factor, I suspect she’ll be the post time favorite at odds that are lower than 7-2. She was caught late last time and it looks like she’ll be under more pace pressure today. I’d prefer her at 5 furlongs, but she is making her third start off the layoff today.
The late Pick-5 starts off with a conditioned $30K-$25K claiming race for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. Jerusalema (#3) is the play in this race for me. I like when high percentage trainers bring a horse to a new circuit, and that is the case with this three year old filly. I find that it’s often the case that horses like this tend to be shorter prices than they should be at their home tracks, but they can be overlooked when shipping to a new track. Anthony Farrior has won with 28% of his starters in 2022, mostly in Maryland and West Virginia. He has only started one horse here (twice) in the last five years, winning the Sapling Stakes with Waist Deep in 2020 and then finishing 4th with that one when cutting back to a sprint in the Smoke Glacken Stakes three weeks later. This three year old filly has won four times in 12 career starts, winning at four different tracks (Charles Town, Laurel, Keeneland, and Parx). She’s won twice for Farrior so far, including a win against N1X allowance foes at Charles Town. She stretches back out after coming up short at seven furlongs and was a close up third with similar in the slop two back. She has a post edge over the other main contenders and should be a tough customer here. Annagangsta (#9) is interesting to me here as a horse that could be more of a longshot. She had the tough luck of facing Black Eyed Susan and Indiana Oaks winner, Interstatedaydream that day. She finished 3rd, beaten 20 lengths that day before going to the sidelines for four months. She returned here at this level, but in a turf race. She hit the front after battling on the lead before fading late. She should be more fit for this race and I think dirt will be her best surface. Dia de Sol (#8) is the morning line favorite for Gilberto Zerpa, who won his first race at the meet earlier this week. She’s dropping out of allowance company after a miserable trip last time out. She was very wide into the first turn and then was forced to steady. She makes her second start on this surface where improvement can be expected. However, she has another wide post and other fillies that will be jocketing for the same spot. She’ll need a trip, so I’d like to get better than the 7-2 morning line price.
The third leg of the contentious Malouf Auto Group Starter Handicap Series pits three year olds and up against each other, going 1 mile and ⅛ on the turf. Lavery (#5) won the first leg of the series was was rained off the turf, and contested at one mile on the main track. Dream Liner (#2) won the second leg going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. Neither will be favored here as long as Bode’s Maker (#4) is in the starting gate. He’s been very good on turf, winning 5 of 7 career starts on the lawn and three in a row since being claimed by Jamie Ness. He took it to a very nice horse, Mid Day Image, last out when winning a $12,500 starter allowance race impressively here last month. He can win a race from any spot in a race. He came from off the pace to win at Pimlico three back, he led gate to wire two back, and he pressed the pace last time. His class and versatility sets him apart from the others here. In a field where the others are so evenly matched, he feels like he stands out. Dream Liner will be where I cover in this race, thinking that he might offer some value if he is overlooked again. Like Bode’s Maker, he won three straight starts on the turf, with a third place finish in the slop in between. The quicker they go early, the better his chances are, but he stayed closer to the pace last time, despite being toward the back of the field. Jairo Rendon switched him to the outside, he came rolling down the center of the course late to nail the others on the wire in a blanket finish. This will be the longest race that he’s run, so that will be a question. However, Tony Wilson has him in good form for this contest today.
I think there are a lot of ways to go in this optional $15K claiming/conditional allowance race for New Jersey breds going 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. At 8-1 (ML) or better, I think Here Comes Billy (#1) is interesting while stretching out to a route for the first time. The dam was strictly a sprinter, winning several turf sprint races. However, he’s sired by Flat Out, who gets 14% winners with horses routing for the first time. Douglas Nunn has scored with 11% of his runners going from sprints to routes over the last five years. This three year old has shown some ability in his five career starts and he’s making his third start off the layoff today. He should be forwardly placed from his rail draw, and I think there’s a decent chance that he can carry his speed. Kratos (#9), breaking from the other end of the starting gate, is making his second start off the layoff today. He showed a lot of promise on the turf last year, but he ran a sharp race against open company on the main track at Delaware, finishing second in a photo. He came up short ten days later in the mud when under pressure every step of the way. He was off the board in his first start of this year in a turf sprint. That race was clearly meant to be a tune up race for him since he’s proven to be more effective at two turns. He’ll have to work out a trip from his wide draw, but he’s live in this race. Royal Coup (#7) finished first to clear the N1X state bred condition in May, only to be disqualified from purse money for that effort. He was third at this level last out when Lib’s Contento ran a big race. He’s been right there in his last three starts and is another one that makes a lot of sense here. On deeper tickets, Stefano (#5) is worth considering here. He’s a consistent runner making his third start off the layoff. He ran a big race to be 4th in the Irish War Cry Handicap at long odds last out. He typically shows up on the track, but my only concern with him is that both of his wins came in races that were taken off the turf, while facing softer fields.
Race 10: The $100K Incredible Revenge Stakes:
The featured race on the program is a 5 and ½ furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares, three years old and up. Of the shorter priced horses, I think this race and distance sets up perfectly for Illegal Smile (#2). She has two wins in her last two starts at this distance. She made her third start of 2022 in the Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont. The six furlong distance might have proved just to be a shade outside of her range, as a few others surged late with a stronger finish that day. There are some other speed types that might be intent on making the front end, so I think Albin Jimenez can get her to rate just off the pace and tip out for the stretch drive. Cilla (#6) is a Grade 2 winner on dirt coming off a strong second place effort in stakes company at Delaware in the slop. She is capable of running big races and is a very speedy type. She’s sired by California Chrome, so there’s reason to believe that she can handle the turf as well as the dirt. Her only turf start was going a mile in the Sorority Stakes here back in 2020 as a two year old. That race was a disaster for her from start to finish and also probably a little farther than she wants to run on the track. I’ll give her another shot on the lawn, especially if her odds float up over the 6-1 morning line. Honey Pants (#3) is a closer that came up short in the Goldwood last out at this distance here. Her three races on the grass in 2022 have been very good and have shown that she’s grown up considerably from her three year old campaign. I do worry that she’ll be left with too much to do again, however, the faster they go early on is probably better for her in the end. I’ll play again Bay Storm (#1) in here, thinking that she’s more effective at six and seven furlongs on the turf.
The Sunday nightcap is a $7,500-$6,500 conditioned claiming race for three year olds and up, going 1 mile and 70 yards on the main track. Melina’s Dream (#1) is a two-time winner at this meet, winning twice at this same condition. He was claimed last out by Tony Wilson, who has hit with 11% of his runners in their first start for him. He’s a consistent runner that would benefit from being just a little closer to the pace than he was last time out. Bird Ruler (#3) is the main danger, tiring late to finish second and third in his last two starts at this level. He makes his second start since being moved to Jose Delgado’s barn. He will have to deal with King Force (#2) to his inside again, who will likely want to go for the lead as well. He was able to put that one away at the top of the stretch, but couldn’t hold off Angeli Blu last time out. He’s run three solid races here at this meet and should be right in the thick of it again today.
Top Pick Winners: 89/349 (26.0%) – $693.10/ $1.99 ROI
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