The Sunday card starts off with three of the first four races for two year olds. There are several competitive races on both surfaces throughout the day. The featured race on the card is the Joey P. Handicap, which is for New Jersey breds going 5 Furlongs on the turf course. Due to a few technical issues, I’ll have the video preview posted Sunday morning (EDIT: Video added 10:10 AM).
|1||3,4,7||11||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||2,3,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|7||2,4||5||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|8||1||4||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|9||6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 3
The day starts with a strong field of two year olds, running one mile on the turf, under maiden special weight conditions. There are many chances here, but I like the Colts Neck second time starter, Hooky Player (3) to score in his second career try. He seemed to need a little time to figure some things out in his last start. He broke well, but dropped back a good bit on the first turn. He settled near the back of the pack, and finished with interest to clearly be third. He galloped out strong, so there’s reason to believe that he’ll take a decent step forward in his second career start. Jorge Duarte has great numbers over the last 20 months with second time starters. Tiger To Remember (7) was on the outside looking in with a maiden special weight field at Laurel yesterday, so he opts to come here. He was hammered at the windows to go to post as the 7-5 favorite with maiden special weight company last out at Colonial. He’s definitely bred to get a route of ground over the turf and he gets Lasix for his second career try for mike Stidham. Chad Brown sends out a modestly priced English Channel colt, Running Bee (4) here. Most of Brown’s better horses have been ridden by Paco Lopez, so seeing Hector Diaz aboard isn’t the best signal. However, he has worked better in the morning than some of the higher priced, lower odds horses that have debuted from the Brown barn. She might need this race, but she is definitely bred for longer races on the grass. There Are No Words (11) ran a big race at this level last week to be second to a promising Chad Brown colt, Unanimous Consent, who is likely going to be pointed to a graded stakes race like the Pilgrim at Belmont or the Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland. That was a big effort in his first two turn start, and we’ve seen California Chrome horses run nice races on this course. However, it’s a big ask to have him wheel back a week later and face a tough group here. I’ll cover with him, but I think the value lies elsewhere.
Race 2: Top Pick: 3
I’m going to use half of the six horse field in this $40K starter allowance for two year olds, but I’m trying to beat the two shortest prices on the morning line. I like Silipo (3) here who was claimed for $40K in his debut, which was a three and a half length win at Saratoga last month. Bruce Brown tried him in the With Anticipation Stakes on the grass, which didn’t go well. He’s sired by Candy Ride, so trying the grass was worth a shot, however, his dam, Lisa’s Booby Trap was much better sprinting on dirt. She was a modest horse who came down from Finger Lakes to win the Loudonville Stakes at Saratoga, which was a one turn sprint on the main track. She has produced a graded stakes runner up (Not That Brady), who also was a winner with state bred stakes company. I think her colt has the chance to be a useful horse on the dirt and should run better at this level. Buttoned Up (6) was a popular winner of a maiden/optional claiming race at Delaware in his debut last month. Jorge Duarte has been sending out live runners on a regular basis at this, winning with 12 of 27 runners. This one benefits from drawing the outside post again, and figures to be tough here. Catch The Smoke (2) may have the best closing speed of the group, which could be an asset in a race with a decent amount of early speed signed on. He sat third early before coming with a strong, four wide rally to win his debut at 4 and ½ Furlongs when facing $25K maiden claimers here in June. He was overmatched in the Tyro Stakes here on the turf, and again in the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga, which was taken off the turf. He gets notable class relief in this spot where he could be rolling late.
Race 3: Top Pick: 7
Filly and mare $8K-$7K claimers who have not won a race (running with a tag greater than $5K) in six months, go six furlongs here. Wayne Potts is all in on winning his first training title at the meet, as he sends out two live runners here. Of his pair, I prefer, Tuesday’s Rose (7) on the outside. She loves this track, never finishing worse than second in five starts, winning three of them. She is coming off a win with $5K claimers in her first race of the season on this oval. She’s versatile enough that she can win on the front end, or come from off the pace. The latter of which might be the more likely scenario with this field. Madame Tiger (4) will take the bulk of the attention at the window, as she was claimed for $12,500 in a time restricted claiming race here last month. The top two finishers in that race have both come back to win in their subsequent starts. Paco Lopez gets the call here, and he’s been winning at a 45% clip since teaming with Potts halfway through the meet. I don’t love the drop in class, but she has been facing better fields than her six opponents and her speed figures stack up very well with this group. Quiet No More (2) has a chance to upset this field if this race falls apart on the front end. Her trainer, Cody Axmaker has not had a great meet, but I like the move to cut her back in distance from a mile here. She’d likely be better at 6 and ½ or 7 Furlongs, which isn’t an option at Monmouth. She was a winner in her only career start at 6 Furlongs though, and Ferrer is likely to have her rolling late. She may be more likely to figure underneath in the vertical exotics, but she’s a longshot candidate that could add a ton of value to the Win-Early Pick 5 if she connects.
Race 4: Top Pick: 4
The third two year old race in the Win-Early Pick 5 sequence is another maiden special at one mile on the turf, this one for fillies. Chad Brown sent out a dominant winner with a European pedigree a few weeks ago, and he has Customer List (4) who checks that box here. She’s sired by Wootton Bassett, who is quickly becoming one of the most popular sires overseas. She comes down from Saratoga after showing improvement in her AM drills there. While she wasn’t quite ready to run at the recently concluded Saratoga meet, I think Brown might prefer a two turn race for her, which he can’t do at Belmont. She’s listed at 7-2 on the morning line, but I think anything above 2-1 is probably decent value here. Pearl Earring (9) is the most logical contender of the horses with racing experience in this field. She debuted at the Spa, finishing 8th, beaten seven lengths when she made her debut at the end of August. She has a nice work at Fair Hill since and she should move forward for Stidham in her second career try. She was a little slow to get into stride last out, so the addition of blinkers is a logical gambit here. Gold Watch (3) might be a filly with some upset potential, making her third career start today for Skip Einhorn. She improved last out off a debut where she showed a little zip before flattening out. She’s a daughter of Not This Time, and his offspring have been running solid races on the grass. She looks like a horse that might want to go two turns, so she might be a smart value play on some tickets today. Longshots that have some early speed have been doing well on this course of late.
Race 5: Top Pick: 3
An optional claiming/starter allowance field wraps up a nice early sequence here. Gulfstream invader Fast Loaded (3) has been in very good form since being claimed by Carlos David a few starts back. He has nine starts in 2021 thus far, six of which are strong. Two of the three duds came in races going one mile and the third came in a five furlong turf sprint. He has four wins and two seconds in his six main track sprints, and he hasn’t lost a race at 6 Furlongs this year. He cleared the state bred N1X condition last out and ships North for a spot where he is protected. David has eight winners with 25 starters at the meet, with some of those winners also shipping here from South Florida. I think he has the best early speed in this race and is in the best current form. On deeper tickets, I’ll cover with High Five Cotton (5), who has been a mainstay in these starter allowance races this season. Delgado clearly has a high opinion of this gelding, as he has not been offered for a tag once this year. He has a win at the meet and a win at Keeneland in nine starts in 2021. He cuts back after running a decent effort in a two turn starter allowance race last month. He’s better sprinting, but his best races are when he’s the lone speed, and the presence of Fast Loaded is likely going to make his job more difficult today.
Win-Early Pick 5 Play: $54 Ticket
Race 1: 3, 4, 7, 11
Race 2: 2, 3, 6
Race 3: 2, 4, 7
Race 4: 3, 4, 9
Race 5: 3
Race 6: Top Pick: 4
The story of this N1X allowance race on the turf is the battle between the local horses and the shippers. While the shippers look tough, I prefer a few of the horses that have been running locally. Eagerly (4) is my top pick here. He was a winner three back with claiming company and he followed up that effort with a sharp second place finish in a race at this level on the Haskell undercard. He moved a bit prematurely last out, hitting the front while circling up four wide, but was caught late by a nice horse in Mohs. He’s a steady runner and I’m expecting him to show a little more early speed than we saw last out, in order to secure better early positioning. Takafumi (5) finished in front of Eagerly in that race and he got a confidence building score with optional claiming/starter allowance company at Laurel last week. He ran well on an eight day turnaround in the sprint at the Fair Grounds, so I’m not concerned about the short rest. I thought he had a lot of potential as a turf sprinter, but he’s been proving me wrong with his two turn efforts of late. This does feel like a race to spread in the multi-race wagers, so the three shippers are worth covering as well. Siligoso (7) came to Saratoga with Antonio Sano, and he outran his double digit odds in both of his races, finishing a solid second last time out at 18-1. He has a nice progression in his turf races with his only dull performance coming on a yielding course. He moves to the Bernardo Lopez barn. This trainer hasn’t had a starter at the meet, but he has won with 6 of 33 starters in 2021. Alley Oop Johnny (1) was very sharp in June and July in New York, but has gone off form at this level in his last two at Saratoga. This is clearly class relief, but he’ll have to run better than what he showed last time out. Seize The Hay (8) is another Carlos David shipper making the trip up from South Florida. His two efforts since joining this barn have been sharper that what we saw from him when he was campaigned by Todd Pletcher. Deep closers haven’t had a ton of luck on the grass over the last few weeks, so he might need some help in the way of some quick early fractions.
Race 7: Top Pick: 2
I’m trying to beat the two shorter prices on the morning line, Jersey Joe B (1) and Johnny Obvious (3) in this multi-conditioned $5K claiming race. I think both want the lead and are going to be each other’s undoing in this race. I’m siding with Karen’s Cove (2), who has popular at the claim box since coming up to the Jersey Shore from South Florida. He just missed at this level last out when Nick the Cardshark got the better of him at this level. Clarence King takes over the training, and Robert Mitchell, who has been making the most of limited chances, gets the ride. El Pillo (4) cuts back in distance after several two turn efforts in a row. His last sprint was at 7 Furlong in an off the turf race at Gulfstream West back in October, and he ran well that day. He has three starts at 6 Furlongs, finishing second in one and third in another. I thought he improved in his last start against better and could be a sneaky play here. Royal Asset (5) is another one that could upset the apple cart in this race. He was claimed by Norman Follett two back. He switched him back to the turf with a tougher group of open claimers. He was a nonfactor, but he ran the same race he was running for his previous connections. That kind of effort might be enough to get him close here.
Race 8: Top Pick: 1
The late Pick-5 sequence starts here with a maiden special weight turf sprint for fillies and mares, three year olds and up. This race seems to go through the favorite, Prudent Song (4). She has been very good, finishing second in both career starts, which were turf sprints at this exact condition and distance. She just missed last out, pairing her Beyer from her debut, when she was sent to post at 36-1. I think she could take another step forward in her third career start for Luis Carvajal. However, she may wind up being a little pace compromised, and horses coming from the back of the pack have struggled to get up in time on the grass over the last few weeks. I’m looking for a big effort from Honorgetic (1) with Jose Ferrer riding for Mike Trombetta. Ferrer is an aggressive gate rider, and with this three year old filly drawing the rail, I think she’ll be on or near the lead in her second start off the layoff and her second career turf try. She looked like a different horse on the grass last out when Prudent Song finished about three lengths in front of her that day, but with the added experience, I think she has the ability to turn the tables here.
Race 9: Top Pick: 6
The late Pick-4 starts with an optional claiming/N2X allowance race going 6 Furlongs on the dirt. To me, I think this is a race where T Loves A Fight (6) is worthy of a single. He was a game second behind Foolish Ghost here on July 4th at this level. That one ran a monster race that day on the front end where he blazed some ultra-quick fractions and kept finding late. It’s been a while since he’s finished first, but this New York bred gelding is as game as they come. He finds a field of horses where some of the prime contenders are moving up in class, and there is a lot of early speed signed on. All of these factors should set this race up nicely for him.
Race 10: The $85K Joey P. Handicap: Top Pick: 1
This New Jersey bred handicap for three year olds and up at 5 Furlongs on the turf is the companion race to the Pinot Grigio Handicap for New Jersey bred fillies and mares that was run yesterday. That race was won by Rosealba who is a proven commodity as a turf sprinter, who narrowly defeated the heavy favorite, Bramble Bay, who was unproven in turf sprints. We have a similar scenario here today with the classy New Jersey bred, Golden Brown (7) entering this race as the 2-1 morning line favorite. He’s a three time winner on the grass, and one of those races was a graded stakes, winning the Kent Stakes at Delaware in his three year old season. However, those races were at two turns. Unlike Bramble Bay yesterday, he does have ability as a sprinter on the main track, winning the John J. Reilly Handicap two back. That ability does make him more enticing, but I don’t want to take too short of a price on him. I’ll try Quiberon Bay (1) on top, cutting back in distance after three solid route races on the grass this year. He won a N1X allowance race on the Haskell undercard (If Eagerly were to win in Race 8, that would certainly flatter him here). He ran strong races sprinting last year, so I don’t mind the cutback in distance for him. His effort to be second in the Irish War Cry Handicap at a mile on the turf here last month was solid. Like What I See (4) won this race last year and certainly could repeat this year. His current form isn’t as good as it was last year going into this race, however, he did beat Jersey breds last month in allowance company. He has done his best work when facing state bred competition. Kratos (11) does not have a rider named yet, but he could also be a player while trying stakes company for the first time in his young career. He just missed in his only turf sprint in his debut at this distance at Delaware. He didn’t show much speed that day, but he has been forwardly placed in his last three routes. I think he’ll be closer to the pace than he was on debut, benefitting from the outside draw.
Race 11: Top Pick: 5
Maiden special weight horses complete one full lap on the main track here. I think Fan Club (5) is the one to beat here. He was beaten by Mr. Briggs, who went on to beat winners in his subsequent last time out. The third place finisher in that race, Golden Tone, went on to break his maiden in his next start, showing the quality of that race. He was a $325,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale in 2019, so he comes in with expectations. The Wests are patient owners and their patience was rewarded yesterday when Kelly Breen trained Bold Tactics to a dominating win in first level allowance company. I think his stablemate will graduate here. Comedic Timing (1) started twice in his career, both in July, one on turf and other sprinting on the main track. He ran better in his dirt race. He’s sired by Into Mischief out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, so there’s reason to believe that he will continue to improve while running in two turn races. I’m not certain that we’ll see dramatic improvement from the morning line favorite, Sound Money (6) at the mile distance. He was very good, finishing third in a sprint last out at Saratoga. He made his first start since January, so he could have grown up over the winter and spring, and very well could just be better than these. However, his pedigree leans toward one turn races, and I’m not willing to take a short price on him here. I’ll cover him on deeper tickets and try to beat him in the vertical exotics.
Race 12: Top Pick: 8
The nightcap is a grass grab bag kind of race for $20K-$18K claimers that have never won four times. I think there are races in earlier sequences where you can pare down your tickets in order to get as much coverage as possible in this race. Uncle Curly (8) might not be the best horse, but this is the kind of horse that Paco Lopez has been absolutely dominating with at this meet. He has some tactical early speed, so in all likelihood, Paco will have him in a perfect spot going into the first turn. Toss his last on the dirt at Saratoga and he has some turf tries that would play very well with this group. Fly Fly Away (5) has been very good, winning both races at this meet. He beat N2L company on 7/4, then wheeled back on 7/30 to beat N3L company. He tries for the Monmouth turf trifecta today, and will be very dangerous is Ferrin Peterson is left alone on the front end. She outfinished Paco Lopez yesterday in the feature with a front-runner. Heza Kitten (3) has been facing better and hasn’t quite been the same horse that he was before his layoff. He’s making his 4th start of the year while dropping into restricted claiming company for the first time. His figures have been getting better, so there’s reason to believe that he can move forward while getting some class relief here. Thormond Park (1) is another one that has been very successful thus far at this meet. He’s won twice and keeps moving up the class leader, much like Fly Fly Away. He’d benefit from a faster early pace, so the more pressure that is applied to Fly Fly Away, the better it will be for him. On deeper tickets, don’t discount Go Poke The Bear (7) while getting back on turf. His last was dull on the dirt in an off the turf spot. He has some solid races this winter at Gulfstream at longer distances. He’d been another one that could benefit from a pace meltdown.
Meet Stats: 134/467 (Top Pick Winners) – $899.40 / $1.90 ROI per $2 win bet