The Sunday card features some very good multi-race sequences and is highlighted by the Oceanport Stakes. Chad Brown has the prime contenders in that race, as both Analyze It and Sacred Life are looking to use this race to potentially springboard them to a bigger and better fall campaign. He also has some other live runners on the card today in some nice maiden special weight races on the turf. There are some large fields and some decent opportunities to hopefully catch some prices today.
Update: 8:40 AM: Monmouth will be off the turf the today, as a decent amount of rain fell from a storm system that closer to the coast than expected. No MTO’s were entered for any of the five turf races that were carded. I have posted some brief updates for those races.
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Race 1: Top Pick: 9 / 1 (Dirt)
Maiden special weight fillies and mares go 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf to kick off the card. Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher have each entered two fillies, and Shug McGaughey has entered one in this nine horse contest. I think the race runs through the big trainers, and I gave the slight nod to Autostrada (9) coming in from Ellis Park for Brown. She debuted in the same race that her stablemate, Spa Ready, who ran here yesterday, won at Belmont last September. She ran 4th on the dirt that day wasn’t seen again until she resurfaced at Ellis Park last month. She ran a respectable 7th that day, facing some quality maidens in Kentucky. She’s second off the layoff and adding blinkers for this race. I think the recent start may give her a stamina edge over some of the other contenders. American Heiress (6) has the best pedigree in this well-bred field. She’s sired by American Pharoah and her dam is multiple graded turf stakes winner, Keertana. She could very well be a filly that will appreciate longer distances, as Keertana did her best work at 11 and 12 Furlongs and American Pharoah certainly ran strong races at 10 Furlongs and beyond. This filly debuted in a tough maiden special weight on the Florida Derby undercard at Gulfstream, where she faded after getting a wide trip. She was given some time off and adds blinkers for her return this afternoon. Pletcher also sends out a more modestly bred filly in Candy Lua (1) who will be making her turf debut today. She paired her Beyers in a pair of dirt sprints here and at Gulfstream to start her career. She’s drawn well for her first trip at two turns and her pedigree, Carpe Diem out of a Candy Ride mare, suggests that she can handle the turf. I always like to see horses with distance pedigrees stretching out after two sprints, and Pletcher certainly has good numbers with horses going from sprints to routes. She might get overlooked in the wagering with the blue blooded fillies that have entered here. On deeper tickets, Tic Tic Boom (8) wheels back a week after running a credible third in a fast maiden special weight race on the main track last week. She is improving for Alan Bedard and is definitely capable on either surface. I think it’s asking a lot of her to win this race, but she’s a proven commodity in a race full of question marks. On deeper tickets, I’ll add Shug’s filly Red Hot and Blue (2), who is another expensive auction purchase, costing her owners $650K at the Keeneland September Sale in 2019. She hasn’t shown much in her three career dirt tries, but she has faced some quality fillies in those three races at Gulfstream, Keeneland, and Churchill. She tries two turns and the turf for the first time, which could be agreeable based on her pedigree, but I’d be more confident if she had shown a little more in her last few starts.
On dirt, Candy Lua (1) becomes my top choice, stretching out to two turns after two dirt sprints. She’s shown she’s competitive on the dirt and I still expect her to take a step forward here. Tic Tic Boom (8) is likely to be the heavy favorite after a big effort last week. Her figures are the best of the group on the main track, but I am a little concerned about the quick turnaround. Red Hot and Blue (2) should improve at two turns, and has faced some sharp fields at top circuits.
Race 2: Top Pick: 3
A six pack of three year olds sprint 6 Furlongs under $25K starter allowance conditions in the first leg of the early Pick-4. I think Practically Dizzy (3) is the one to beat. She ran a strong race here two starts ago to break her maiden at the $25K maiden claiming level. She ran at this level while facing a more competitive field of some older fillies and mares last week at Pimlico. She was sandwiched a bit at the break, causing her to be a little farther off the pace than I think she’d prefer to be. She still finished with interest, closing well to get 4th, beaten 3 and ¾ lengths by her stablemate that day. Her two races on this oval are her two best and she reunites with Gerrardo Corrales today. She Dazzle (6) and Lady Clau (2) are both exiting races where they were also impacted by some trouble. I think She Dazzle will benefit from drawing the outside post today after getting pinched back last time out, when Bahama Breeze (5), showed uncharacteristic early foot and beat her to a spot. She fought Jose Ferrer for almost a quarter mile after steadying, not enjoying being at the back of the pack. There’s not a lot of speed signed on here and I expect Ferrer to be more aggressive from the gate to get her to the front. Lady Clau may join her after bumping the side of the gate at the break, and spotting the field at least five lengths in the first few strides. Gonzalez gave her a few months off and now brings her back here. She is probably more effective when running closer to the front end, so we’ll see how aggressive Montalvo gets. How much I use her will come down to value for me.
Race 3: Top Pick: 7
This is an interesting $20K-$18K N3L claiming race that features one of the more notorious horses in recent history, Restoring Hope (5). If that name sounds familiar, it’s because in 2018 when he was trained by Bob Baffert, he ran in the Belmont Stakes, along with his stablemate Justify. A few strides out of the gate, he seemed to take a right hand turn, carrying out some of the pace factors from the outside gates, creating an easy lead for Justify, en route to his Triple Crown win. Restoring Hope has only raced six times since, now running for his 4th different trainer in that time span. He last showed up here in 2019, and ran a monster race to be a close second, running a career top 99 Beyer. His three starts since have been nowhere near that. He drops in for a tag for the first time in his twelve race career, and this looks like a level where he can have some success. He was trounced when facing significantly better last out at Churchill, in a very fast race, where the winner stopped the clock in 1:08:1. I definitely respect him, but there’s enough uncertainty to try another horse on top. I’ll use Road to Meath (7) as my top pick, making his first start since being claimed by Ronald Abrams in June. He ran a dull third against a softer group that day, but has been given a little time off. Abrams moves him up in class, and his previous efforts at Belmont and Aqueduct suggest that he can be a factor at this level. Abrams typically is based at Parx, but he’s been live with his limited starters at this meet thus far. Incite (1) is another class dropper that is entered with the tag for the first time in his career. John Servis brings him here after a good day here last week where he saddled the first and third place finishers in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks. Incite is cutting back in distance, and I’m not certain 6 Furlongs is the trip this son of Jump Start wants. However, he has been facing better and certainly could revert back to his better form at this softer level of competition.
Race 4: Top Pick: 10
The Win-Early Pick-5 sequence doesn’t get any easier with this twelve horse maiden special weight for two year olds going 6 Furlongs. There’s a few promising colts that are making their debut in this spot. I like both Eloquist (10) and Fun at the Fort (12) as “A” horses, with my slight preference going to Eloquist. Her trainer, Butch Reid, has hit the board with all five starters at the meet thus far. He debuted a nice filly, Mainstay, to win earlier in the meet. That one went on to be second in the Schulyerville and is entered in the Adirondack at Saratoga this afternoon. This Nyquist colt drilled a bullet work at Parx a few weeks ago, going 47:2, which was the best of the 30 four furlong drills there on 7/10. He has no published works since, but certainly appears ready to go. Frankie Pennington makes the trip up from Parx to ride Trainer Patrick McBurney isn’t known for his success with babies, but Fun at the Fort, a Violence colt, has been working well in the AM, most recently drilling four furlongs in 47:3 here last weekend. McBurney has only a 7% win percentage as a trainer, but that number jumps to 16% when Paco Lopez rides for him. I like outside draw, despite the large field, as that should limit the amount of trouble he could find at the break. Slaats (1) draws the rail, which is not ideal, but he has two career starts, so the experience factor is a plus. He debuted in a $40K maiden claimer at Pimlico two back and showed considerable improvement when moving up to maiden special weight company last time out. He ran into some trouble, but still finished well to get third, less than a length behind the winner. I don’t think he’ll be a maiden for long, but this is a tall order for this son of Palace.
Race 5: Top Pick: 8
Fillies and mares that have never won three races, go 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf course, while running with a $20K-$18K tag here. Lady Fatima (8) is the logical player in this race. She just missed last out at this level, when she lost in a photo as the even money favorite. Even though she hasn’t had her picture taken in the Winner’s Circle since 2019, her last effort was the cheapest level of competition she’s ever run in and it looks like that is the right level for her. She was four lengths in front of Peggy O’Prado (5) that day, who was the third place finisher. This field is not as deep as that field, and as long as she gets a clean trip, she should be tough to beat in this spot. Paddy’s Princess (3) is a little bit interesting in here trying the turf for the first time off the Jose Sanchez claim. Her pedigree suggests that she could be upgraded on the turf. Sanchez is winning at 30% this year with only 37 starters. This filly is moving up in class, but she’s improving and could be the most likely contender to upset the apple cart.
On dirt, the logical single becomes Toned Up (6) for Tim Hills. She’s run credible races on off tracks at Aqueduct and Belmont. She’ll make her second start off the layoff after a dull return on the turf. Her form improved on the main track last fall, and I think she’s a standout on the main track. I’ll still use Paddy’s Princess (3) on deeper tickets off the Sanchez claim. She would have been making her turf debut today, as all five career starts have been on the main track. She looks to be the controlling speed, so she could certainly take a step forward and the big class jump.
Win Early Pick-5 Play: $54 Ticket / $40.50 Ticket (Dirt)
Race 1: 1, 6, 8, 9 / 1, 2, 8 (DIRT)
Race 2: 2, 3, 6
Race 3: 1, 5, 7
Race 4: 1, 10, 12
Race 5: 8 / 6 (DIRT)
Race 6: Top Pick: 2
The Jersey Shore 6 starts with a multi-conditioned $5K claimer for fillies and mares a one mile. The race was over at the break for Topo Grigio (2) last out when the starter opened the latch as she was rearing up, spotting her three rivals several lengths in a small field. The winner that day, Misty Taste, was far superior to any of the rivals that are entered here, and Topo Grigio made her life very easy after that disastrous beginning. Saffie Joseph drops in her class for her second try at two turns in her career. She’s sired by Bodemeister and her dam is Summer Wind Dancer, who won the 10 Furlong Delaware Handicap, among some other graded stakes races. She has drawn well and should be very tough to beat at this level with a clean break. The main danger could be Parx invader, Sweet Blame (7) who struggled in her most recent start with better horses. She makes her second start today off the Haleem Lee claim. She ran three solid races prior to her last effort, so there’s reason to believe that she can rebound here.
Race 7: Top Pick: 5 / 2 (Dirt)
The late Pick 5 starts with a challenging two turn maiden special weight for three year olds and upward on the turf. This sequence features three allowance or optional claiming/allowance races and a stakes race to close out the card. Similar to the filly and mare counterpart to this race in the opener today, Pletcher and Brown are represented here, sending out three first time starters between them. In total there are four horses that are making their debut in this race, three horses with experience that have never raced on the turf, two horses that have tried the turf but are going two turns for the first time, and one horse, El Socio (3), the morning line favorite, who has hit the board in three of five races at two turns on the turf. She ships up from Florida for Kathy Ritvo, and makes his first start in two months. He just missed last time out, despite having a less than perfect start and being farther back than normal. He is the known commodity in this race and definitely makes sense to be on tickets. However, I’m going to try Noble Cross (5) on top, as he makes his second start today. He debuted in a small field when sprinting on the turf. He ran second, seven lengths behind Abe Honestly, who ran a monster race that day. I think that race was strictly an educational experience for him, despite taking a good amount of money at the windows. His pedigree suggests that he’ll be better at longer races, and Paco Lopez keeps the mount. He doesn’t ride many races for trainer John Stephens, and you’d think that he could have ridden for either Pletcher or Brown in this race if he wanted to. Of the first time starters, Balthus (8) is the one that interests me the most. He’s been working out over the main track here since June for trainer Chad Brown. Nik Juarez has had some success riding for him, so I imagine he had the choice of which first time starter he wanted to ride (Advise and Consent (4) also runs for Brown). He’s an Irish bred colt that is definitely meant to be on the grass. Exalted Charm (9) on the other hand, seems to have a pedigree that is more dirt forward, but he’s run credible races in his last three trips to the track. Breen tried to get him on the grass last out, but the weather washed that race off the turf. He’ll try again today in race filled with question marks. I could use him underneath and on some of the deeper multi-race tickets.
On dirt, I think Exalted Charm (9) might take the most money at the windows, and I will definitely cover with him as he’s met some sharp horses in his last few starts on dirt. However, I think both Skillful (2) and Reckless Place (6) have a little more upside and might offer slightly better value in what will likely be a short field. Skillful is my top pick off a respectable debut in a strong maiden special weight sprint on the Haskell undercard. The winner of that race, Spun and Won, came back to run a big race to be second against a good field of winners here on Friday. Sweezey’s horses definitely need a few starts before they’re at the their best. Adding blinkers and adding distance is a definite plus for me. Reckless Place is stretching out after several sprints. His best race to date came in the slop, when he lost by a short neck on opening weekend here. I think this is a good test to see if 1 Mile and 1/16 is within his realm of capabilities.
Race 8: Top Pick: 5
On paper, this optional claiming/allowance race for fillies and mares looks to be dominated by the two of the shippers. Trumpet Lilly (5) ships south from Saratoga to make her first start for Tom Amoss since April, when she finished a game second in allowance company in the slop at Oaklawn. I do always wonder about trainer intent when a Saratoga based horse ships here when they’re racing at the Spa. However, I’m guessing Amoss wanted to keep her at two turns, but thought the 1 Mile and 1/8 at Saratoga might be too far for her right now. She’s faced much tougher company, beating Bold Tactics two starts back, who was brilliant when breaking her maiden here last week. Office Party (3) has been strictly a turf horse up to this point in her career. I thought she had a lot of potential after her first few starts in New Orleans, but she’s been flat in her last few starts. The aforementioned filly, Bold Tactics, is her stablemate, and one of several horses that Gary and Mary West have moved to be with Kelly Breen for the time being. Her dam was a Grade 1 winner on turf and synthetic, winning the American Oaks and Ashland stakes in 2014. Her works on the main track are solid enough to think that her form could transfer to dirt. She’s sired by Distorted Humor, so there are definite dirt influences on that side of the family. I don’t love the 3-1 price on her, but I think she’s the main threat to Trumpet Lilly here.
Race 9: Top Pick: 2 / 3 (Dirt)
Fillies and mares go 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf in this N1X allowance race. I really liked the last race from Contained (2) when beating open $62,500 claimers at 7 Furlongs on the turf at Belmont in her last start. That race was strictly for three year olds, and she beat a nice filly in Magisterium that day. That filly came back to run third in a loaded optional claiming/allowance race at Saratoga last month. Contained looked fantastic on the track prior to the race that day, and definitely didn’t run like a horse that went into the gate at 16-1. She’s sired by Flintshire out of a Colts Neck owned dam, Bride To Be, who never finished worse than second on the grass. I think she’ll have no problem getting the distance as she looks for her third straight win. If she’s anywhere near her 5-1 morning line, I’ll definite be playing her on top and making a decent win wager. Takingtimeoff (6) faces winners for the first time after breaking her maiden in her first career turf try and her fourth overall start. She caught a soft course at Delaware and led gate to wire that day. She’ll need to improve off that effort, but she showed she can handle the grass and could have a forward move when getting on a firmer course. Miss Dracarys (5) is the lukewarm morning line favorite shipping over from Belmont for Neil Drysdale, who is starting his first horse here at the current meet. She’s only sprinted in four career tries. She was most recently 4th at Belmont, running against two other fillies that went on to win in separate turf sprints at Saratoga in their next starts. The winner of that race, Honey Pants, was recently second with a strong allowance group at Woodbine. She’s definitely coming out of a loaded race, but the added distance is going to be a question that she’ll have to answer. Equal Measure (4) was claimed by A.C. Avila last out at Belmont when she had a bit of trouble at the break going 7 Furlongs at Belmont. She has some nice two turn races in her PP’s, most recently beating $35K N3L claimers at Santa Anita in April. I expect her to rebound off her last race, but this is a strong field for the condition here.
This might be the race that I’m most disappointed to see transferred to the main track, as I was really looking forward to an encore performance from Contained (2) here. She may stay in the race as she did win a slow off the turf race at Delaware in her first start of the year. I can still use her, but I think it’ll be tough to beat Omnia (3) who won in a similar spot two starts back, when she was the controlling speed. The track has been playing fairly throughout the meet, but historically, speed has done well here on off tracks. Grey Charlotte (1) is an improving three year old that is looking for her third straight win. She’s beaten multi-conditioned $30K-$25K claimers in her last two, one of which was an off the turf race at this distance. Second Bite (7) has been improving on the turf, but she has a few wins on the main track as well. She may be the one to watch out for the stretch if we see that closers are having success on this course.
Race 10: Top Pick: 6
Thirteen horses are entered in this New Jersey bred optional claiming/N1X allowance race. Six of the thirteen are entered for the tag as many horses have cleared this condition in the past. I’m going to try a bomb here and use Lib’s Contento (6) who is an interesting longshot that looks to offer a lot of value at long odds. He ran a strong race in the slop to break his maiden in his first start of the year when facing state bred maiden special weights here in May. He drew the rail in a twelve horse race at this level two starts ago, and finished 6th beaten 4 and ½ lengths behind Chubilicious that day. I thought that race was pretty impressive for his third career start. Hector Diaz had to keep him a little closer to the early pace than I think the horse would have preferred in order to avoid being completely buried along the rail. He moved up willingly, shifted to the outside where he looked loaded, but levelled off in the stretch. Three of the top four finishers from that race have since won a race and the 5th place finisher lost narrowly in a three horse photo on Haskell Day. After that race, he faltered at two turns, but I think he has shot to take a step forward at long odds cutting back to 6 Furlongs today, especially if he’s able to sit a little farther off the early speed. Shield of Faith (13) makes his third start of the year today after tiring to finish 5th with optional claiming/N2X company last out. He was very sharp here last year off the layoff when he cleared the state bred N1X level, winning emphatically by five lengths. He was dull in his seasonal debut in June, but ran a more credible race out when facing tougher. He drops in class, but does get a big and tough field to navigate here. I think he could clear them early from his outside post and keep finding in the stretch. Chubilicious (11) keeps on running huge races on this oval, even as a ten year old. He has won both races at this meet thus far, getting put up via DQ last out, when he appeared to be the better horse. He’s won 11 times in 18 starts at Monmouth, and figures to be right in the mix again today. Brother Chub (7) is another Hey Chub sired horse that is very consistent. He’s a nine year old gelding that isn’t quite as fast as he used to be. He drops in class after facing tougher in his last several tries. He could be coming late if they go too fast early.
Race 11: The Oceanport Stakes: Top Pick: 6 / 2 (Dirt)
The week of racing at Monmouth concludes with the $100K Oceanport Stakes for three year olds and up on the turf. I’d feel pretty comfortable being live to either Chad Brown horse in this race, but I prefer Analyze It (6). He showed up in the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes last year on this course, making his first start in 22 months. He looked like the same horse that ran third, beaten less than a length in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill in 2018. He had some traffic issues in his next start in the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, where he disappointed as the 2-1 favorite. He didn’t start again until this April at Aqueduct, where he clipped heels and finished 7th. He was a strong second in a stakes quality optional claiming race at Belmont, when his stablemate, Value Proposition, got the better of him. He makes his third start of the year and returns to a two turn race where he figures to get a sweet trip, sitting just off the inside speed. Sacred Life (8) is the defending champion, as he dominated this race last year, winning by four lengths. He hasn’t had the same level of success in his last four tries when facing graded stakes company. He is more pace dependent than his stablemate and would definitely benefit from a hot early tempo. Perhaps this drop in class will help get him back on track for a successful fall campaign.
I’m not sure what’s going to be left of this field that will still be running for $100K on the main track. 4 of the 9 entered have never once raced on the main track. Whoever stays is going to have their hands full trying to deal with Raased (2) who dominated an off the turf allowance race here in May, winning by 10 lengths, with a huge Beyer speed figure. He took a shot in the Grade 3 Poker on the grass at Belmont, and while he didn’t run awfully, he just might be a better horse on the dirt. Epic Dreamer (9) has gotten much better in his last two on turf, but he has some solid dirt efforts as well. I think he’d be better if this race was shorter, but there’s not going to be too many foes to deal with. I’ll save him for deeper tickets and underneath.
Meet Stats: 84/304 (Top Pick Winners) – $537.40 / $1.76 ROI per $2 win bet