The last Saturday of the meet offers a 14 race program, highlighted by the Violet Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, on the turf course. They were off the turf yesterday at Monmouth, but there was a lot of sunshine, and the weekend forecast is ideal for closing weekend. I’m going to assume they are going to run on the turf tomorrow and if changes need to be made, I’ll update accordingly. Leading rider, Paco Lopez is riding down the road today in Bensalem, PA for the PA Derby card at Parx, so some of the regular riders here are getting the opportunity to ride some of the better horses today.
Edit: Unfortunately, all the races except the 7th have been taken off the turf. I’ll make a few quick notes below (12:05 PM)
|1||7,9||3||5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||5||2||3||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||3,5,7||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|6||4,7||2,10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|9||9||6,7||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|10||3||2||5||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|11||4,7,9||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 9 (turf) / 6 (dirt)
The day starts off with an open $10K claiming race at 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf. Cabinet Pik (9) draws outside in a field where there’s not a lot competition on paper for the early lead. He’d benefit from a hustling ride from Carlos Montalvo out of the gate and he’s shown the ability to handle a course that’s less than firm (which will likely be the case today). I thought his last race three weeks ago was pretty sharp, where he was third beaten five lengths when facing a stronger field. He was close to a hot pace, and still outfinished the horses that were a part of the early speed battle. Drillomatic (7) has shown the ability to be near the lead, like he did two back when he finished third in the Malouf Auto Starter Series Handicap last month. He was a nonfactor in the 11 Furlong race in that series two weeks ago. He drops in class and looks like he could be a factor at this level. Lucy’s Town (3) would likely benefit from a snappier fractions early on, which is not the most likely scenario here. She faces the boys today in a field that is comparable to the female fields she’s been up against at the open claiming level lately. She’s been close in her last two and has a live look in this spot today. Idle Time (5) was never really involved in the same race the Cabinet Pik is coming out of. He has run some sharp races from time to time, including a big effort two back, just missing with $16K N4L claimers. I think 7-2 is pretty low for this one, and would consider using him at higher odds. He’s one for deeper tickets for me.
On the main track, King of Spades (6) may wake up. He ran well earlier in the meet in the slop in an off the turf contest. Lucy’s Town (3) has shown enough on dirt to be competitive with what’s leftover here.
Race 2: Top Pick: 5
Even though she’s moving up in class, I think it’s hard to play against Mi Cleopatra and I (5), who is looking for her fourth straight win to close out the meet. On paper, her last three races look like they’ve been against the same company as today, however, this race is for three year olds or horses that have never won three times. Her last few races have been for three year olds or horses that have never won twice. It seems like a minor difference, but it’s still a tougher group than the fields she has been beating. That being said, she looks to have the best early speed of this group and she has been a stubborn foe to pass in the stretch during this nice little run that she’s on. Overdressed (2) is the morning line favorite that is plummeting in class, dropping in from multi-conditioned $30K-$25K company from her last start. She was a winner two back with $25K-$20K N2L claimers. She’s very consistent, winning 5 of 19 career starts and finishing on the board 13 of 19 times. This just feels like a steep drop in class for a horse that has been competitive with better. On deeper tickets, Miraculousblessing (3) could be one to include, especially if her odds float above her 6-1 morning line figure. Two of her last three starts have been bad, so, it’s uncertain which version of her will be showing up today. She seems like a horse that needs an aggressive ride early on, and while Mi Cleopatra and I has decent early foot, she doesn’t necessarily need the lead. She may be able to secure rail position, as I do think she can beat the inside duo in the early stages with a clean break. She has shown that she can get brave when she’s out front. Tenderness (1) is the second choice at 5-2, and feels like a horse that has a much better shot at finishing second or third than beat these.
Race 3: Top Pick: 4
This claiming race is for fillies and mares that have never won twice, running with a $7,500-$6,500 tag. I don’t love singling in races like this, but it’s pretty hard to build a case for anyone else, especially if the short price favorite, Wicked Jane (4) runs her race. She’s been second or third in her last three races at this level. This is probably the softest group I’ve seen at this condition throughout the meet. She’s been steadily running mid-50’s Beyer figures, whereas the rest of these have rarely shown the ability to hit 50, let alone 40 in some cases. I think this is simply a case where she’s simply faster than her seven rivals.
Race 4: Top Pick: 4
I’m going to look for coverage in this $40K-$30K maiden claiming race for two year olds at one mile on the main track. Some in here have two turn turf experience, but none have gone two turns on dirt. I’m not sold on the Kelly Breen firster, Hang Tight (2) or the Chad Brown class dropper, Big Skipper (3), both of which are shorter prices on the morning line. I’m going to try the Claudio Gonzalez first time starter, Lord Mio (4), who definitely has a two turn pedigree. He has been working well in the AM and this barn does well spotting their maidens in their debut. Deep Faith (8) is the morning line favorite who has consistently been a speed and fade type in four career starts, all in maiden special weight company. His speed figures are better the ones with experience, so he could just be faster than this bunch. He’s sired by Anchor Down (who was sired by Tapit), so there are more stamina influences on that side of the family. I’ll use him before the other two short prices, but this is a race where I’d like some coverage. Both Fierce Warrior (1) and The Ghost of NY (5) have a few races in maiden claiming sprints under their belts. Neither of are coming off efforts that inspire a lot of confidence, but Fierce Warrior was claimed out of his last start. He draws the rail and should have the shortest way around the track. Being sired by Shaman Ghost, The Ghost of NY should be better going longer. His even efforts in sprints might suggest that he’ll perform better at longer distances.
Race 5: Top Pick: 7 (Turf) / 4 (Dirt)
This race is not only the last leg of the Win-Early Pick 5, but it also kicks off the mid-card Pick 5, which is offered on 14 race cards. I ended up using three in this wide open optional claiming/N2X allowance race. Mamba on Three (7) is the top pick, despite still being eligible for the N1X allowance condition. He’s a perfect 3-3 at 5 Furlongs on the turf, but he’s never hit the board in the two 5 and ½ Furlong races. However, one of those two races was with stakes company on this course, and the other was his last race at Saratoga when facing N1X allowance company. Both Big Package and Christopher, who were first and second in that race, would likely be sub 2-1 favorites in this spot. I think this improving three year old gelding can get the job done with this field. Nothing Better (5) accounts for two of the 12 twelve training victories at this meet for Jorge Duarte, and he’s shooting for three in a row as he climbs the class ladder here. His front running style has been playing well on this course over the last few weeks. His one effort on a good course wasn’t his best, so that’s a bit of a concern. However, he’s in better current form than he was in that spot. War Stroll (3) might be the best of late runners in this spot. He was never a factor in the Rainbow Heir Stakes last month in his most recent start. He ran three solid races with open claimers at NYRA tracks in his three prior tries. There are several horses that like to be forwardly placed, so this race could set up for a horse like him with a decent late kick.
On the main track, this race has now scratched down to four runners, and I think the logical players are Violent Turbulence (4) & Unprecedented (2). I’ll give the slight edge to Violent Turbulence as he’s been facing better competition on the main track.
Win Early Pick 5 Play: $36 Ticket
Race 1: 3, 7, 9
Race 2: 2, 5
Race 3: 4
Race 4: 1, 4, 5, 8
Race 5: 3, 5, 7
Race 6: Top Pick: 4
Two year olds go 5 and ½ Furlongs in this nice maiden special weight contest that starts the Mid-card Pick 4. Tops the Chart (4) was very good in his debut at Laurel, dueling most of the way before yielding late. He adds Lasix and runs for Jorge Duarte who has very good numbers with second time starters. He’s sired by Maclean’s Music, whose horses are doing well early on in their careers. The dam sire is A.P. Indy, which adds that stamina influence. That’s Right (7) is another one that was speedy from the gate n his debut. He broke well in his Parx outing before fading to be 4th. He has a few interim works at Parx to build stamina, plus he’s cutting back in distance from 6 Furlongs. He might offer a little more value than the favorite, but he’ll have to take a bigger step forward. Fatherofthebrides (10) is a Cupid first time starter from the Chuck Spina barn that looks like he can run a bit. He has a solid work tab for a barn that can win with two year olds. Spina sends out There Are No Words, who was a dominating two year old maiden winner on the turf last week, in the Nownownow Stakes tomorrow. Fun at the Fort (2) debuted in the slop last month on this oval. He’s been gelded since his last start and may offer up a better effort in his second time out.
Race 7: The $100K Violet Stakes: Top Pick: 7
Only seven have entered in the featured stakes race here for fillies and mares at 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf course. Three of the seven have no rider named, so there’s no guarantee they’re starting. It feels like a two horse race where the advantage should be with Vigilante’s Way (7) in search of her third stakes win at this meet. She took home top honors against a very good field in June in the Grade 3 Eatontown. That effort earned her a chance to compete against some of the best fillies and mares in training on the turf in the Grade 1 Diana. She ran her race, but she proved with her seventh place finish that she’s not at that level right now. She rebounded nicely when coming back here scoring in the Miss Liberty Stakes last month at short odds. Today, she faces a tough foe in Tamahere (3), who is one of two from the Chad Brown barn entered in this race. She’s had an up and down year, running a strong second in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in April, then not showing up in the Just A Game on the Belmont undercard. She was a beaten favorite in an optional claiming/N3X allowance race at Saratoga, and she just was caught late in the Ballston Spa. She’s been in some tough spots and hasn’t won since her North American debut last year. She’s going to be tough, but her races this season haven’t been great. I think she should have won that allowance race at Saratoga, but she wasn’t up to the task that day. I definitely get some mixed signals from her.
Race 8: Top Pick: 3
Time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claimers sprint six furlongs here. I think the inside runners have a definite advantage on this group. I’ll look to Saratoga shipper, The Great Dansky (3) to get the job done. His last two efforts have been sharp, most recently crossing the wire third with open $12,500 claimers at the Spa. He was a winner at Aqueduct in April with $8K claimers, keeping him eligible for this spot. He’s in good form and could benefit from the circuit switch. Speeding Kid (2) has been knocking on the door and earning checks with tougher fields here. He’s been a popular claimer at this meet, as he’s been claimed for $16K in each of his last three starts. He drops in class off that effort, which may be warranted, since he hasn’t won a race since 2018. He appears faster than many of these though, so I’ll proceed with some caution. The same could be said for Bronzed (1) who showed up in an open $20K claiming race at Saratoga after two years away from the game. He showed a little speed that day before fading to 4th in a race that wasn’t awful that day. He’s had three works since that race where he was a voided claim. There are mixed signals, and he’ll likely be a short price. I’ll save him for deeper tickets.
Race 9: Top Pick: 9 (Either surface)
I really like Gleaming Sword (9) in this $16-$14K maiden claiming race. He’s put forth two sharp efforts at this level in his only two turf tries at Pimlico. His three other starts all were races switched to the main track. He has been running in five furlong races and he came up just short both times. The added 1/16 of a mile should be to his benefit. He was claimed by Douglas Nunn, who has done well with runners first off the claim. I think he graduates today and I’d love it if he goes off at his 6-1 morning line figure. On deeper tickets, first time starter Perth Amboy (7) is a little interesting here. I don’t usually love horses that are debuting for a tag that is lower than their purchase price. However, horses sired by California Chrome have been running very well in the mid-Atlantic region late, and his AM drills look live. I’m Blaming You (6) ships here from New York in hopes of getting back on the grass. His last was dull with $40K New York bred maiden claimers in a race that was transferred to the main track. His start three back at Saratoga would likely be good enough to beat these, but his other four races haven’t been nearly as strong.
While I was really looking forward to playing Gleaming Sword on the turf, he’s still playable on the main track. My selections won’t change in this race.
Race 10: Top Pick: 3
$12,500-$10,500 claimers that have never won three races or are three years old start the late Pick-5. I’m not sold on either of the Kelly Breen horses, Portal One (1) and R Goodtime Charlie (4), both owned by the group. Both were recently claimed for $25K, and both are already starting for $12,500 here. I like Will too Shy (3) because I think he is going to sit the perfect trip just off the speed and score while dropping in class. His maiden score was sharp in the slop two starts back. He faced a much tougher group last out, and he hung in there to take third. He proved that effort in the off track wasn’t a fluke. Doctor K (2) might be the speed of speed here. He’s shown the ability to keep finding on the front end if he’s quick enough to clear. He’ll need a sharp break for sure, because he’s struggled when things don’t go exactly his way. On deeper tickets, Taino (5) might be a horse that could close into a hot pace. His two races here have been solid, when facing lesser company. McBurney claimed him last time and moves him up to a more challenging spot.
Race 11: Top Pick: 4 (Either surface)
The maiden claiming $16K-$14K division for fillies and mares on the turf, hasn’t produced the strongest fields during this meet. This race is no exception. Fast Fashion (9) is exiting a race where her long time nemesis, Lullaby Land finally broke through and scored, narrowly defeating her in her 12th career start. That was her best career effort to date and as a three year old filly, she may be continuing to improve. It certainly could be her turn in this race, and I’ll use her in the multi-race wagers, but I have to try to find some value. I’ll use Saint Rita (4) making her third career start and her second start at two turns for Kent Sweezey. She showed some improvement last out when facing $30K-$25K maiden claimers, so there’s reason to believe that she can move forward again on the drop. Her post should allow her to secure a decent trip. Little Red Button (7) returns to a two turn race in her 13th career start. Her last at this level when sprinting wasn’t bad. While I don’t love that she’s had so many chances to break through, she has been much more competitive at this lower level.
On the main track, there’s enough dirt influence in the pedigree to endorse Saint Rita in this spot. I’d also upgrade Tiebreak (10) in his second start off the layoff. He ran well enough on the dirt at Remington last year to consider him here.
Race 12: Top Pick: 2
I’m going to take a shot with a price horse here and go with Kaleidoscope Kid (2) to upset this $5K multi-conditioned claiming race. He tends to follow a good race, bad race pattern, so I’m expecting him to run a better race after a dull try last time out. He’s gotten close a few times at this meet, and he was very good in February at Tampa, so the potential is there. Axmaker has had a tough meet, but I think he’s got a live one here. Indian Gulch (9) was one that I liked two weeks ago at this level, but something wasn’t quite right that day, as he was slow into stride, and never really ran a step that day. He was vanned off and must have checked out fine if Potts is running him back two weeks later. His prior efforts would be god enough to beat these if he can get back to them here.
Race 13: Top Pick: 2 (either surface)
The final turf race of the day is an open $22K-$18K claiming race at 5 and ½ Furlongs for fillies and mares. I think Shasta Star (2), coming in for Orlando Noda off the claim, is interesting here. She has only one career start on the grass, and that was a gate to wire win at Kentucky Downs last year when facing open $20K claimers. That race was a 6 and 1/2 Furlong contest, so she showed she has some speed and some staying power when going on the grass. She’s second off the layoff and coming off a respectable effort on the main track at the Spa. Odramark (6) is a horse for course, as she’s never been of the board in five trips here, winning two of them. Her only start on this course this season was a dominating win in N1X allowance company. She’s dropping into straight claiming company after beating optional $25K claiming/N1X allowance foes when in for the tag at Colonial last month. Pugilist (9) may be better suited for the bottom of the exotics, as she’s cutting back in distance after a dull two turn effort. That race ended a streak of nine straight on the board finishes. She has closed well in sprints before, winning once and hitting the board in her other tries.
On the dirt, Shasta Star has a clear advantage over many of these. I thought she was sneaky on the turf, but she’s very logical on the dirt. Captain Sam (7) for Butch Reid is also worth upgrading after a game effort with PA bred stakes company in an off the turf race last out.
Race 14: Top Pick: 4
$12,500-$10,500 maiden claimers go 1 Mile and 1/16 in the nightcap. I can’t take a short price on the Chad Brown second time starter, Unique Path (3). His debut on the turf was awful, and while he might be better on the dirt, his works don’t inspire a ton of confidence. This is a horse that cost his owners $435,000, and they’re willing to sell for $12,500 after one start, where he was offered for $40K. I’ll single the stretch out sprinter, A Farewell Yodel (4) after two encouraging efforts on the main track. He should be out in front, and while his pedigree suggests that he might be more effective at one turn, I’m just not seeing anyone in here that is going to be running him down. I think Castillo will take him coast to coast.
Meet Stats: 141/488 (Top Pick Winners) – $958.00 / $1.96 ROI per $2 win bet