We’re down to the final four days of racing for the year at Monmouth Park. The 11 race Saturday card here is a strong one with decent field sizes at wide open races. The featured race is the Presious Passion Stakes for three year olds and up going 1 mile and ½ on the turf course. Welcome back to Isaac Castillo, who is returning from 10 weeks on the sidelines after a spill at the beginning of July. 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!
|Race||Top Pick||A||B||C||Exotics Menu|
|1||5||5,6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||5||5,9||7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||5||4,5||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|7||3||3,11||8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|8||9||9||2,3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
The first race of the afternoon is a $40K-$30K maiden claiming contest for two year old fillies going six furlongs. La de Peluche (#5) is one of two first time starters in this spot. She’s sired by the freshman sire, Army Mule, whose horses have done very well in the two year old races at this meet. Her works are okay and despite cooling off a bit over the last few weeks, Avila has had good numbers with his two year olds. Madeline’s Grogu (#6) appears to be the main threat here, dropping in from maiden special weight company for the first time. She’s run four times at the meet, and she’s ended up facing some of the better two year old fillies that have started at this meet. The drop in class is likely warranted after finishing 5th with restricted maiden allowance types in her last start.
The first race on the turf this afternoon is for New Jersey bred optional $15K claiming/N1X allowance runners going one mile. This race runs through One Time Willard (#5), who appears to be faster than the majority of runners in this spot. He just missed at this level last month when Ohana Empire nailed him on the wire. His two career turf tries have been solid efforts, and he showed that two turns on the turf is a good trip for him. Jairo Rendon gets the return call for John Stephens this afternoon. Here Comes Billy (#9) is another three year old that is of some interest in this spot. Three have his seven career tries have come on the turf, sprinting in all three of those races. He was very sharp last year, winning at the Meadowlands with New Jersey bred maiden special weight runners going five furlongs. He’s sired by Flat Out, so there’s reason to believe that his form can improve at longer distances. He’ll definitely need to step up, but I see him as the type of horse that could improve with added distance. Wolfe N Hawke (#7) has been a part of some races with some dreadfully slow pace set ups in his last two starts. He was much closer to the front end last time out than he prefers to be. He’s been at his best when he;s been able to sot off the pace and make one run late. That kind of trip might be the right trip with this field, as there could be some speed threats that could soften up the frontrunner.
There’s another maiden claiming race, this one also for fillies and mares, going six furlongs. I’ll give the slight edge to Tilted Tiara (#2) in this spot. She’s run in some tough races in Maryland and now ships here to make her third start in four weeks. She was claimed out of her debut by Claudio Gonzalez when racing at this $25K-$20K maiden claiming level. She’s improved for him, running a few decent efforts in her last two starts. She was caught late two back when going seven furlongs at Laurel. She gave up the lead again last out at Timonium when going a two turn 6 and ½ furlongs in the bullring. I think this is the right distance for here and I believe she’ll get the job done. Penn National invader Song Saver (#4) is the only runner in this race to have crossed the wire first. She did that two starts back, but was taken down for interference. She came back to finish a decent third in her last start. Paco Lopez accepting the mount for Kathleen DeMasi is a positive sign, especially for a trainer that has been quite unlucky so far at this current meet.
Six fillies and mares are entered in a competitive optional $25K claiming/N2X allowance race at six furlongs. Everyone in the race is entered under the N2X allowance condition. Above Par (#3) comes in red hot, beating two strong starter allowance fields in a row. She set a moderate pace two starts back when leading gate to wire, but her early fractions were more aggressive last time. She’ll likely face a decent amount of pace pressure once again with Trade Secret (#2) slotted to her inside and My Beautiful Belle (#5) to her outside. She is the one to beat, but it’s not easy to win three straight, especially while moving up the class ladder. I’ll use her, but I’m taking Liberated Lady (#4) on top, hoping that her recent form which is a little muddied up, moves her odds above the 5-2 morning line figure. She was excellent here three starts ago when clearing the N1X condition in her first stateside win. She was all but eliminated at the break in her next start in stakes company. She went back to the grass in a turf sprint and was wide amongst a solid field in the Incredible Revenge Stakes. She moves back to the allowance ranks and comes back to a six furlong sprint, which suited her so nicely back in May. Above Par has been too good lately to completely ignore, so I will use her as the only back up in this race. I’m not in love with the Saratoga shippers, and Bourbon Rebellion (#1) is taking a big step up in class in this race. My Beautiful Belle might be overbet in this spot, despite shipping in from Penn National. She is coming out of a restricted stakes race there where she lost the lead in deep stretch, finishing a close second. There were a few scratches from that race and that field was not very deep. She is facing a tougher group today, so I’m thinking the value will be elsewhere here.
The Win-Early Pick-5 sequence wraps up with a $16K-$14K maiden claiming race going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf. I see this race as an absolutely wide open affair. I’m going to be taking a firm stand against the favorite, Streaming Tap (#11) in this race. He took the plunge from the $40K maiden claiming level into this level last out and finished a distant third as the lukewarm favorite. He had a wide draw that day while also having an eventful trip. Lopez lost his irons with him in the stretch for the first time. While it was a heck of an effort to get back in the irons without negatively affecting his rivals, he did not seem to be traveling all that well over this course. He’s never looked like a winner in any of his races, and taking him as a favorite by default feels like a mistake. I’ll try Necco (#9) as a longshot play to upset this group in his first start off the Jose Camejo claim. Camejo won with Magic Surprise in her first start off the claim at this level back on Haskell Day, going off at 10-1. This four year old gelding should be a similar price while getting back to his preferred surface. He was initially a $500K purchase, so the pedigree and some ability should be there. While he was overmatched on his two turf starts, they came against significantly better fields. Strike Price (#1) is another lightly raced runner, dropping in class after finishing 7th with $40K maiden claimers in his most recent try at the Spa. His three turf efforts all look like they’d be competitive at this level. Dream Astray (#4) was a decent second behind ET’s Magic Man last out at this level. That one romped, but he looked comfortable on the lawn, trying it for the first time that afternoon. He moves into a higher percentage barn, but retains his regular rider, Manny Jimenez. On deeper tickets, I’ll hold out hope that Inappropriate (#3) can get back to his 2021 form in his third start off the layoff. He had an excuse in his return after almost a full year on the sidelines. HISA regulations forced his trainer’s hand to bring him back on 7/17, which could’ve been sooner than plannned. He likely needed that race, but his last race was not good. He was part of an aggressive pace for the condition and faded badly. He gets a rider switch to Luis Cardenas for his third start off the layoff. I’ll also throw in Pivotal Run (#5) as another Saratoga shipper that could make some noise at this level. He’s taking a big drop from state bred $40K maiden claiming races on the NYRA circuit. He did cross the finish line first last year at Saratoga before being disqualified.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $30 Ticket:
On this ticket, I’ll be singled to Liberated Lady (#4, R4) in the 4th leg. I thought her effort here three back was spectacular and she’s had legitimate excuses in her last two starts. The last leg feels like that’s the race with the biggest potential for a bomb. Necco (#9, R5) at 12-1 has some definite upside. Inappropriate (#3, R5), who is 20-1 on the morning line in that race could also be one that is completely overlooked after a pair of dull efforts to start his 2022 season.
The Jersey Shore 6 begins with a maiden special weight race forNew Jersey bred fillies and mares, three and up, going six furlongs. After a monster effort in her debut at this level last month, Sadie Baby (#4) comes in here as the even money morning line favorite. She was well in front of her nearest competitor that day, so there’s reason to believe that she’s good enough to run back to that race. She was six lengths better than Random Luck (#3), and it’s hard to see a scenario where she concedes that ground. The biggest danger in my opinion is the first time starter, Mob Mentality (#5), who will be my top pick. Jesus Cruz is known mostly for his work in the claiming game, but he’s capable of connecting with a debut runner. She’s a Bustin Stones filly who is going to get in a bit light, with apprentice Madeline Rowland aboard.
This N1X allowance contest for fillies and mares going 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf is going to be all about value for me. There are two horses that I like a lot in this race, Irish Dream Girl (#3), who is 12-1 on the morning line, and Finest Work (#11), who is the 3-1 morning line favorite. I’ll make Irish Dream Girl the top pick, with the hope that she’ll go off near her 12-1 morning line. From my experience being at the track this year, where fixed odds wagering is offered, this is the kind of race where I’d be looking for value that I can lock in. Irish Dream Girl ran two very good races on the turf over the winter at Tampa, crushing a $16 N2L claiming field, and just missing when facing $25K N3L claimers in her next try. After being claimed for $25K, Bennett moved her up in class, while keeping her protected. However, he got her off the turf, and she hasn’t run as well. I think she’s drawn a good post for a horse that wants to be near the front end. I believe she can get back to running better races while running at two turns on the turf. 3-1 feels like a great price on the Saratoga invader, Finest Work. She was a strong second when facing a good field at this level at the Spa at the end of July. She missed a start there, and now ends up here which was a little concerning, seeing as how the allowance purses are significantly higher on the NYRA circuit. However, when looking over the Belmont at the Big A meet condition book, there’s really not a viable N1X race on the turf for her there until the end of September, which would be two months since her previous start. She has never finished off the board in six career tries on the lawn, winning three of those. She’ll need to work out a trip from the outside post, but she’s getting significant class relief while switching circuits. I suspect she’ll be lower odds than her morning line, but if were able to lock her in at 3-1, I would definitely be willing to do so. No Valla (#8) returns to the N1X allowance level after beating up on some overmatched starter allowance fields in her last two starts. She clearly like the local course, and she continues to be in good form. I think others in this race might have a higher ceiling, but I do think she has a higher floor than many of these. I’ll cover with her on some of the deeper plays.
$25K-$20K two year old maiden claimers sprint six furlongs here. Tiempo Perfecto (#9) was pretty good in his debut, catching the bottom of the trifecta in maiden special weight race where he went to post at 81-1. His last two races have not been his best, but by the standards for this race, they weren’t awful. He didn’t fire in the slop, but should be getting back on a fast main track here. Darien Rodriguez hasn’t had his best meet this season, but his horses have been running well. He sends out the first time starter, Possibilemente (#2) in this race. His works are competitive enough for give him a shot. In Detail (#3) makes some sense here if he can do better than his 3-1 morning line figure. His debut at Saratoga was a disaster, so this is an opportunity for this one to hit the reset button.
Race 9: The $100K Presious Passion Stakes:
The racing office lucked out with both the John ‘s Call Stakes and the Cape Henlopen Stakes (run Thursday at Delaware, were taken off the turf. As a result, three of the four runners that cross-entered between this stakes and the Cape Henlopen, scratched out of that spot in favor of this one. The question you have to ask yourself in this race is if the Chad Brown runner, L’Imperator (#7) can get the distance. He’s 3-5 on the morning line in this race, coming off a game third place finish in the Bowling Green Stakes. He was tiring late that day and now adds an additional furlong for this test today. He is much classier than his opponents, however at 3-5, I’ll try to beat him, seeing as how he’s unproven when going this far. If Sa’ad (#2) loses this race, it won’t be because he can’t get the distance. He was a winner in a flat stakes race at Grand Meadow in the spring. He tried jump racing over the summer, which was not for her. His previous European form isn’t that bad. He tried jumping a few starts back and didn’t fire. The didn’t intention was to get him back on the grass for John’s Call Stakes, which came off the turf. He didn’t care for the dirt that afternoon, so that effort is a toss for me. Class and current form are huge question marks, but at 6-1 or hollowing, I’d be willing to take that chance.
This is a stakes caliber allowance race for older horses going 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. I like Plot the Dots (#8) to rebound off a dull effort in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic last time out. That track, especially with its configuration, can be tricky for some horses. He was beaten by a superior horse, Art Collector, but he never looked comfortable on that track. He was a decent second behind Ridin With Biden in the Deputed Testimony Stakes at Laurel two back. He was a winner in his last effort at a level similar to this. I think this race sets up nicely for him as there should be a solid pace with both Thomas Shelby (#2) and Sagamore Mischief (#7) showing up here. Antigravity (#1) looks like a four year old that is starting to turn the corner. He was a decent 4th in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup on Haskell Day. He came back to beat N2X allowance foes on a day where I thought he was a vulnerable favorite. Paco Lopez has been keeping him closer to the front end and that seems to be making a difference. He gets the return call today. I don’t love the 5-2 price, as I would prefer him in the 7-2 or 4-1 neighborhood in a field as deep as this. However, I think he’s going in the right direction where some others in this field are looking to regain their better form. On deeper tickets, I’ve been very impressed by No Salt (#4) in his last two starts. He got a very good set up last out when clearing the N2X condition. The favorite that day set blistering fractions in a small field, which seemed unnecessary. He sat patiently at the back of the pack before uncorking a monster rally. He dominated that race, winning by over five lengths. The speed figure came back a little light, but I don’t mind that in a race where a horse wins by open lengths. This is a definite step up in class and he’s run two big races already in less than a 30 day span. However, he clearly likes this track and he’s been rolling lately.
The Saturday nightcap is the second division of the N1X allowance race for fillies and mares on the turf. Race 7 was the first division. There’s no clear standout to me in this spot, so I’m looking for value. Sandpiper Memories (#6) has two career tries on the turf and both of which were solid. There’s some synthetic form that muddies up his form, but when you go back to the grass races, you’re seeing a horse that can compete at this level. Jonathan Thomas sends out Sklyerville (#3) for her first start as a three year old filly. She ran a respectable 5th in her debut before running three races on the Tapeta at Woodbine at Turfway. She’s back in a two turn start for a confident barn that has been winning in bunches at this meet. It’s good to see Isaac Castillo in the irons, as he was on the sidelines after being injured in a spill. Texas Magic (#1) is another one of those high ceiling/high floor shippers. She gets some post relief after breaking from wide post in her last few. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with Tic Tic Boom (#4), here. She has some large speed figures staring me down, but she’s struggled to finish the job. I’ll cover with her on some deeper plays.
Top Pick Winners: 137/512 (26.4%) – $985.60/ $1.93 ROI