Sunday’s card at Monmouth Park is a 10 race program that gets under way at 12:15 (Eastern Time). There’s some decent opportunities for value today as there are some vulnerable favorites this afternoon. The Malouf Auto Starter Series wraps up with a 1 Mile and 3/8 turf contest in the 7th race and there’s some sharp fillies and mares running in allowance company on the turf in the 9th race.
|1||7||4,6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||5||1||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||5,6||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||6,7,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||2,6||1,8||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 7
The Sunday card gets under way with $10K maiden claimers, going 5 and ½ Furlongs on the main track. Neptune’s Revenge (7) has nine career starts, and has been beaten by double-digit lengths in eight of them. However, only three of those starts have come on fast tracks, and when you look at his progression on a fast track, I think he fits very well with this group today. He took the lead with $12,500-$10,500 claimers two starts back, before Wicked Rebel pulled clear in the stretch. He was not interested in the slop when he was beaten by Wisecrack (4) by almost 30 lengths. His races in the mud aren’t nearly as good though and I think he will be much closer when getting the fast track. Wisecrack is the main threat, running a monster race in the slop last out. I don’t expect that he’ll be able to duplicate that number, as he’s never been close to that 61 Beyer figure in any other race in his career. His best races are in the mud, but he’s done enough on a fast track to factor with these. Like Wisecrack, Call Home (6) is also trained by Wayne Potts. Paco Lopez has the mount on this Saratoga invader that is dropping and making his second career start on a dirt track. 7-5 feels a little light, but there’s not a ton of other viable options here.
Race 2: Top Pick: 5
Fillies and mares that have never won two races, run six furlongs while racing with a $7,500-$6,500 tag. Trapped N My Mind (5) is the one I want in this race. She was claimed by Ronald Abrams, who has a higher win percentage than her previous trainer. She was 4th, while having some trouble at the break last time out. She was facing N3L or time restricted claimers last out, so this field is considerable class relief, despite appearing to run at the same level. She gets a rider upgrade to Ferrin Peterson in hopes of getting closer to the form that she showed when running at Aqueduct over the winter. Elle Be Dancing (1) seems overvalued on the morning line (3-2), coming off a maiden win when making her second start since joining Jose Sanchez’s barn. Sanchez is a high percentage trainer with a limited number of starters in 2021. She gets Paco Lopez back aboard, who continues to upgrade every mount that he’s on. I don’t love her here, but I think she’s worth covering as a saver on some of the deeper tickets.
Race 3: Top Pick: 6
The first turf race of the day is an absolute head scratcher to me. I’m planning on using the ALL button in this race, as the four with more than one career start on the grass, Spiritual King (2), Two Steppin’ Kluki (4), Artie’s Lit (5), and Shaldag (6) are evenly matched. There are two high priced Chad Brown horses, Unique Path (3) and Desert Cowboy (7), debuting for a $40K tag, which for both, is significantly below their purchase price. Steve Asmussen sends out a nice filly, Best Time (1) that was entered yesterday in a maiden special weight race at Kentucky Downs, but was scratched, as he did not draw in from the also-eligible list. He has been improving on the main track, running a respectable race where he was bothered at the start at Ellis. I’m concerned to see him in for a tag though, as he is regally bred. He’s sired by Tapit and his dam is 2014 two year old filly champion, Take Charge Brandi. His full brother ran here Monday, finishing a troubled trip third in his two year old debut. This one appears to be a private purchase, but his brother sold for almost $600K. I’m not loving the idea of him on the turf, but he has a good foundation. Shaldag would be my top pick, but for full disclosure, there’s not a ton of confidence there. He’s been gelded since his last race back in July. He came up empty that day and was claimed, so there’s a thought there’s an excuse for that dull effort and a chance to improve for his new trainer, Rafael Schistl. Schistl has a 12% winning percentage on the grass, but he does boast a positive ROI.
Race 4: Top Pick: 5
This New Jersey bred optional claiming/N1X allowance contest has a similar feel to the race that was carded yesterday for fillies and mares. Many of the runners are stretching out in distance, but they’ve never shown the ability to run their best race at two turns on the dirt. Postino’s Vow (5) on the other hand, dominated a race at this level last month. He closed quickly into a contested pace, and powered home to beat a decent ten-horse field for the condition by over four lengths. He’s run two races since, losing by double digit lengths to a stronger group on the dirt and a similar group on the turf. This will be his 7th start of the meet and he draws the softest field yet in those seven races. Saltin’ The Rim (6) let me down big time in the race that Postino’s Vow won last month. I expected a much better performance that day, however he was too close to the front end, and wilted late in his first two turn effort. He’s been moved to the Mike Dini barn and has a little more time off than the rest of the group, all of which ran two weeks ago during the New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival. Paco Lopez takes over in hopes of giving him a smarter ride. Leo Monte (4) looked good breaking his maiden on the turf last out, and he was flattered earlier this week when Pal, who he defeated, came to break his maiden in an off the turf maiden special weight race. Dirt is still a question mark for the morning line favorite. I would be more apt to play him at 4-1 or better, but 2-1 feels very low to me for a horse that was beaten 15 lengths in his only dirt race.
Race 5: Top Pick: 5
I’m not sold that morning line favorite, Bam Bam Blu (8) is the same horse that he was back in 2019. He returned after 25 months off to run a dull 6th with N1X allowance foes on the main track. He switches to turf and drops to the $25-$20K, multi-conditioned claiming level, and keeps Paco Lopez. However, I think there are decent runners in this race, and I’m going to need to see that this horse can still run before taking any kind of short price on him. Lookin’ for Loki (5) is where I’m going in this race. He was claimed by Orlando Noda two starts back. He tried open $32K claiming company at the Spa, and finished midpack that day. He gets noticeable class relief, running for his $25K tag, but he’s eligible for time restricted claiming company. He’ll be forwardly placed and he should be a tough foe to get by in the stretch. By The Sey Shore (6) may be the best of the closers here. Horses coming from the back of the pack were struggling last week on this course, however, I still think he has a live look. His last two races were washed off the turf and his efforts were not up to par. He makes his local debut for Mike Trombetta, who sent out an undervalued longshot to win on the grass here last week.
Win Early Pick-5 Play: $48 Ticket
Race 1: 4, 6, 7
Race 2: 5
Race 3: ALL
Race 4: 5, 6
Race 5: 5,6
Race 6: Top Pick: 6
I’m going to play against some of the shorter prices in this $25K-$20K maiden claiming race for two year olds, which starts the late Pick-5. Fierce Warrior (6) is the top pick after showing some late interest in his debut. He was a little slow into stride, but rallied from the back of the pack to finish 5th of 8 that day. There’s reason to believe he can improve in his second career start, while facing a lot of suspect rivals. Henrythethird (7) is the most interesting of the first time starters in my eyes. He has been getting faster with his AM drills for Avila, who has shown the ability to win with some longshots at first asking. He’s sired by Keen Ice out of a Courageous Cat mare, so he may prefer longer races. Dancing Cossack (8) showed some early speed before fading last time out. He makes his second career start and drops in class from $40-$30K maiden claiming company to this level. I don’t mind playing horses back that fade badly after showing speed in their debut, especially if they offer some value. He’s 10-1 on the morning line and certainly has the potential to go off at longer odds.
Race 7: Top Pick: 6
The final leg of the Malouf Auto Starter Series sends this starter handicap field on an 11 Furlong journey on the turf course. I believe this is only the second race carded at this distance at this meet, with the first one being the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes back in July. Last year’s winner of this race, King of Spades (3) is back, but he seems to have a lost a step in his nine year old campaign. In terms of pedigrees for this longer distance, there’s a pair of Kitten’s Joy horses that appear to be live in this spot. Of that duo, I like Kitten’s Spa (6) the best. Despite his turf forward pedigree, he’s coming off a pair of sharp efforts on the dirt in a pair of races that were taken off the grass. He won the race at this distance at Tampa this spring in their version of this starter series. He’s never hit the board in four races on this course, but all of those races were at shorter distances. Outrageous Bet (2) is a new face to this series, shipping in from Saratoga after being claimed for $25K two starts back. He’s been in good form of late and gets Paco Lopez to ride as he goes this long distance for the first time today. The distance is a question, but I think this is a shrewd entry from Patrick Reynolds. Cash Call Kitten (8) is the other Kitten’s Joy horse that has a live look here. He made his first start in this series last out and was second best behind Mid Day Image (1) when going nine furlongs. He’s run three very good races in his three career starts on this course (all at this current meet). We know he likes the course, and while he has the pedigree to get the distance, he has to prove on the racetrack that he can. The same could be said for Mid Day Image who was allowed to lope along uncontested on the front end last out. He’s fortunate that there’s not really any early speed signed on again today. His pedigree tells me that the 1 Mile and 3/8 might be out of his comfort zone, but unless someone applies some early pressure, his job will become easier.
Race 8: Top Pick: 8
Buddy’s Run (8) plummeted to this level last out and caught a sloppy track. He was a game second behind Cobh that day, and I’m expecting him to run a little better of dry footing this afternoon. He’s yet to run back to his best form from 2019 and 2020, and since he’s in for the $5K tag, he might ever get back there. However, he makes his third start off a ten month layoff, so he is eligible to run a stronger effort that would be enough to win here. Katie’s Cowboy (1) is a real head scratcher in this race. He was running quality races on the turf and synthetic with better fields at Golden Gate before going on the shelf for over two years. He resurfaces 26 months later with $5K claimers for Hollendorfer. Neither of his two dirt races were very good, but he has been working very well over this track in the AM. I don’t want to take 2-1 on him, but his works are good enough to think that he still has some life left. Lucky Lover Boy (4) gets some class relief and returns to his favorite distance of 6 Furlongs on the main track. He’s been struggling at this meet when facing solid fields of state bred optional claiming/allowance types. He was sharp at this level at Penn National over the winter, so there’s reason to believe he can step up here.
Race 9: Top Pick: 1
This N1X turf allowance for fillies and mares is the co-feature this afternoon. I’m interested in the Colonial Downs invaders here. I liked the turf debut from Alpha Zulu (1) when taking maiden special weight horses gate to wire at 10 Furlongs on the grass last Tuesday. He draws the rail, which could allow him to dictate the terms again, despite cutting back in distance to face winners for the first time. Horses were doing well last week that were closer to the front end of the turf course here. Deciding Vote (6) didn’t draw into a similar race at Laurel yesterday, so I’m expecting him to show up here. He has two strong efforts in a row at this level, just missing on Preakness Day in May at Pimlico and just missing again in July at Colonial. Edward Graham has given this son of Mr. Speaker a little time to regroup. He’s never run a bad race on the grass and should be right in the thick of it with this group today. Equal Measure (4) could offer a little value here in his third start since being claimed by A.C. Avila. His Santa Anita and Belmont form for Peter Miller and Bob Hess would play very well with this group. He was dull two back in an off the turf race and he never really had a chance to run in a twelve horse field at this level here last out. Corrales will be tasked with trying to avoid some of the traffic that plagued him last out.
Race 10: Top Pick: 5
The nightcap for the week is a maiden special weight that is carded for three year olds and up, but has only attracted three year olds. I’m expecting this race to be formful, with the shorter prices appearing to have the best shot. Mach One (5) tried dirt for the first time at Saratoga last out and was claimed for $20K by Wayne Potts. Potts moves him up in class, which is a positive sign and sets him up with Paco Lopez. This duo had another strong day yesterday. He feels like the one to beat. Not a Postino (6) struggled with a good field on the Haskell undercard two starts ago, but he ran a much better race, finishing second at 15-1 at this level last month. He’s had three second place finishes in four career tries, so he has some ability. Roulette (7) has been working well for Kelly Breen and has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. Usually when you see that, there’s some talk on the backside about the horse having some ability. He’s a $350K purchase at the Keeneland November Sale of 2018, so he’s finally making it to the track today. Ferrer picks up the mount here as Juarez, who typically rides for Breen, is not riding today.
Meet Stats: 124/438 (Top Pick Winners) – $817.00 / $1.87 ROI per $2 win bet