As the meet winds down at Monmouth Park, the remaining three Friday cards will start at the regular 12:15 post time, like the weekend cards typically do. There’s an eight race program that starts the week of racing highlighted by a maiden special weight race for two year old fillies on the turf in Race 3 and an optional claiming/N1X allowance sprint in Race 6.
|1||1,6||7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||3,4||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|3||7,8||11 (AE)||9||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|4||2,4||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|5||3||1,8||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 1
New Jersey bred maiden special weight horses take to the turf in the opener. Six of the nine entered ran two weeks ago in a race at this level. I’m going to be playing against Pal (9) who was the beaten even money favorite in that race, finishing a non-threatening third that day. He draws the outside post for his 13th start after three straight races where he broke from gate one. Paco Lopez takes over, which will likely mean that he’ll be well backed at the windows again today. However, I feel there are several others that have more upside in this race. Eli Betancourt sends out a pair that are both owned by Prima Ventures LLC. I prefer Duquesne (1) breaking on the rail, coming off a strong third place finish behind Kratos and Pal back in July. He skipped the 8/29 contest and waited for this spot. He’s bred to be a nice horse on the grass and he’s been competitive in all three starts. Regular rider, Jeremy Laprida, opts to ride Surfing (6), so Gerardo Milan is named to come over from Parx to ride. Surfing is the main danger, just getting nailed on the wire by Leo Monte after leading every step of the way in the 8-29 race. He has shown improvement in each of his four turf starts, and he has tactical speed, but doesn’t necessarily need to be in front early on. Steel Pier (7) is the other Betancourt horse, and he showed considerable improvement in his second career try on the turf. His sire is Wicked Strong (by Hard Spun) and his dam sire is Mt. Livermore, so there’s reason to believe that he can continue to improve while running on the turf. I think he’s a live longshot with some upside in this race.
Race 2: Top Pick: 3
Fillies and mares that have never won two races start with a $12,500-$10,500 tag here. I’m going with Karen’s Way (3) to rebound after a dull race in the slop when facing starter allowance company last out. She was running against exclusively three year olds that day and she was bumped at the break, and as a result, she failed to secure the early position that she prefers. Between the heavy rains, and taking a lot of mud in her face, I’m willing to draw a line through that race completely. She was a solid second behind Exact, who ran a big race, two back in an off the turf race. Tomas Mejia rode her to an eight length maiden breaking score in the first week of the meet. He was cleared to ride after an injury sidelined him for over a month and he reunites with her in this spot. Let’s Take It Izzy (4) took a step forward to handily defeat a soft group of $10K maiden claimers last out. She steps up to face winners for the first time, and she’s exiting a race that would be very competitive at this level. Jose Delgado’s horses tend to run well following a win and in their second race following a short layoff.
Race 3: Top Pick: 8
Two year old fillies run on the grass in this maiden special weight race at one mile. Chad Brown sends out Requestforproposal (8) and Haughty (11) in this race, both of which will be making their first career starts. Requestforproposal gets Paco Lopez and has been working over the local oval since May. She’s sired by Mastery, who is by Candy Ride, so his horses should be able to take to any surface. Her dam was a winner on the turf and hit the board in 6 of 10 career turf starts. Haughty is on the AE list, and has been training at Saratoga. With her being on the outside looking in, I’m not sure she’ll make the trip unless Brown knows one of the ten that are in the body of the field is going to scratch. She’s a filly that was purchased at the OBS Sale in April for $310K. She drilled a nice work at Saratoga on the turf on Sunday, looking very comfortable on this surface. I don’t love the outside post for her, but she’d be live if she draws in. High Vibes (7) debuted in a useful maiden special weight race last month. The second and third place finishers went on to break their maidens in their next starts, and the winner ran second in the Sorority Stakes here Monday. She’s a Maryland bred filly sired by Neolithic, who did his best work on the main track at two turns. His dam never tried the turf, but she was sired by Pioneerofthenile, who was a grade one winner on synthetic, and has produced multiple stakes winners on grass. I could see her moving forward in this spot. Pegs A.K. Girl (9) is an Animal Kingdom first time starter out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare. There’s definitely some stamina influences in that sire line, so starting her career at one mile on the grass isn’t the worst idea. She has worked well enough on the main track to give you the impression that she can run a bit. I think she’s worth including on deeper tickets and as a possible value play in the vertical exotics.
Race 4: Top Pick: 4
This $7,500-$6,500 multi-conditioned claiming race feels like a spot to take a stand against a few horses that are likely going to take some money at the windows. Doctor K (6) ran a monster race at Pimlico, easily defeating multi-conditioned $10K-$8K claimers in his last start in July. He was a voided claim that day, and has been on the bench since. Rudy Rodriguez brought him up to Saratoga, perhaps trying to get him in a race there, but his lone work up there was slow. Three weeks later, he had another slow work at Belmont. He enters here, in a for $7,500 tag after running an 80 Beyer in his last start. Something doesn’t add up with him for me, so I’m going to take a stand against. I’m also siding against Taino (5) who was ridden out to win here six days ago when facing $7,500-$6,500 N2L claimers. That was a very soft field that he dominated, and while he has several respectable efforts on a fast track, this is a decent step up in class off a big effort. Road to Meath (4) will be my top pick, as he drops in class back to the level he was claimed at three starts ago. He appears to be rounding back into better form after a decent try with better on the grass. He makes his third start of this current form cycle, and his NYRA form from the spring and winter would likely be good enough to beat these if Doctor K isn’t the best version of himself. Deo Forte (2) is also a player in this race, narrowly missing in his last two starts on this oval. He’ll likely need to be comfortable rating, as Doctor K is likely faster than him early. He ran a good race using those tactics while drawn outside three starts ago, when narrowly missing in a full field of off the turf runners.
Race 5: Top Pick: 3
The final leg of the Win Early Pick-5 is a maiden claiming contest for three year olds and up at five furlongs on the grass. I like What’s Up Mr. Z (3) in this spot, making his second start off the layoff. I thought his return was sharp when trying the grass for the first time with $30-$25K maiden claimers at this distance last out. He finished in a dead heat for third that day, a little over a length behind the winner. He drops a level and could be very tough with this group today, if he can move forward off his last start. Make a Move (1) is likely going to go for the lead from his rail post and try to take them all the way. He’s making his third start off the layoff and has been employing more early speed in his last few starts. His best efforts have been in turf sprints and the inside post should lead him to the shortest way around the track. NYRA invader Camouflaged Kisser (8) takes a significant drop in class and gets Paco Lopez to ride in his 19th career start. He’s always faced tougher but has only one on the board finish with all of those races. He is second off the layoff and his speed figures on average are better than most in here. He’s likely going to be overbet, but I’ll cover with him on class alone.
Win Early Pick-5 Play: $54.00 ticket
Race 1: 1, 6, 7
Race 2: 3, 4
Race 3: 7, 8, 11 (AE)
Race 4: 2, 4
Race 5: 1, 3, 8
Race 6: Top Pick: 2
The feature is an optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race for three year olds and up going six furlong on the dirt. There’s a decent amount of early pace signed on, and that might set the table for Crea’s Brklyn Law (2) to run them down in the stretch on the cut back in distance. He was claimed by Michael Miceli for $12,500 at Saratoga after finishing off the board in a pair of open claiming races at nine furlongs there. He’s been more effective in his one turn races, so I like the fact that Miceli is shortening him up in distance. He does well with horses in their first race on the claim, and I also like the fact that he ships here where he can run in a protected spot in hopes of clearing the N1X condition. Don’tlosemymoney (6) scratched out of a similar race last week in favor of this spot. He benefitted from scratches last out to win gate to wire with multi-conditioned $25K-$20K claimers. He was claimed by Douglas Nunn, who continues to have an excellent meet. Paco Lopez keeps the mount in a race where there is a some decent speed both inside and outside of him. He’s a capable runner that has only finished off the board once in eight career starts. Race Craft (4) was closing fast last, but couldn’t quite catch up to Don’tlosemymoney two weeks ago. He was also claimed out of that race and he, too moves to a protected race, as he remains eligible for the N1X condition. His last two races have been sharp and he s another one that would benefit from a hot early pace.
Race 7: Top Pick: 5
The final turf race of the day is a $16K-$14K N4L claiming race going 1 Mile and 1/16. This has been a contentious condition at this meet, and this might be the deepest field that has been assembled at this level this season. There’s not a lot of early speed signed on, so this turns into a jockey’s race. Under those circumstances, I’ll take Heza Kitten (5) with Paco Lopez aboard. There’s a few horse with tactical early speed, but none that really want to be on the front end. Don’t be surprised if Lopez is aggressive sending this one to the front in the early stages. He is dropping in class while making his 4th start off an 18 month layoff. He was definitely better back in 2019, so there’s a bit of concern that he’s not going to be the same horse that he used to be. However, He showed some improvement with N1X allowance foes at Colonial last month. Bird’s Eye View (1) is one of two that are scheduled to ship in from open claiming company at Saratoga. He gets some major post relief as he was hung out in post 11 last time out. He was wide and run a dull 9th that day. The drop in class makes sense and he ran a very strong race on this course in June when facing optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance foes. Counter Offer (6) follows Bird’s Eye View down the shore, after running against him in their last two races at the Spa. He doesn’t have as much upside as his rival, but they have been close to each other in their last two, and if Diaz can somehow work out the better trip, he’ll be tough. I don’t think they’re that far apart, so if his price floats up, he’ll become more enticing. On deeper tickets, Uncle Curly (3) might be a threat if Lopez doesn’t send Heza Kitten hard in the early stages. His last two have not been his finest efforts, but his Gulfstream form prior to the Peter Walder claim was sharp. Walder is a good trainer, winning at a 17% clip in 2021, so perhaps he has started to figure him out.
Race 8: Top Pick: 1
The final race of the afternoon is a $20K-$18K maiden claiming contest at six furlongs. It’s not very creative, but Clemenza (1) should dominate this field at short odds. He drops in for a tag since being gelded after his last start, He’s shown promise at times, but this is probably the right level of competition for this $250K purchase. He’s had chances when running behind some talented horses. He drops and finds a very soft field for the condition, where his biggest threat might be an 0-33 maiden. On deeper tickets, perhaps the one with best shot at pulling the upset could be A Farewell Yodel (6) making his third career start and hi second on the dirt. He was dull in his turf debut, but showed some improvement when facing maiden special weight foes on the main track last out. He flashed some early speed before fading to 6th. Like with the top pick, this level of competition is probably the right level for this four year old gelding. He has some upside, but will still need to take a big step forward to beat the favorite here.
Meet Stats: 120/425 (Top Pick Winners) – $802.70 / $1.89 ROI per $2 win bet