Monmouth Park Racing Preview – 9/3/23 – By Eric Solomon

The Sunday card at Monmouth is highlighted by the $100K Rumson Stakes, which is a rare sprint race carded at five furlongs on the dirt. There are several competitive races where some of the favorites seem vulnerable on this very good betting card, smack dab in the middle of the holiday weekend. Reminder that there will be a Labor Day Monday card tomorrow. First post this afternoon is 12:40 (ET).


I’ll be covering the Monmouth Park meet for the third consecutive 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 2 2,4,5 DBL, PK3, PK5
2 7 7 1,2,3 DBL, PK3, PK4
3 7 1,3,7 2 DBL, PK3
4 10 10 5 7 DBL, PK3
5 3 1,3 8,12 DBL, PK3, PK6
6 1 1,6 2 DBL, PK3, PK5
7 11 2,7,11 DBL, PK3, PK4
8 1 1 2 DBL, PK3
9 2 2,6 1 4 DBL
10 2 2,7 8


Race 1:

New Jersey breds will start the afternoon in an optional $30K claiming/N2X allowance race on the turf. Leo Monte (#4) narrowly defeated One Time WIllard (#5) when this pair squared off at this level last month. However, I do see this as a deeper field than the group that they beat last time out. I landed on Starstruck Notion (#2) on top. He cleared the N1X condition two starts back when making his first start on the turf. His dirt form is nothing to write home about, but his effort back in June was strong. Paco Lopez rode Leo Monte to victory last out and he also rode this newly gelded son of Great Notion. The fact that he winds up riding him tells me that he thinks this horse has more to offer on the grass. Leo Monte can be a little difficult to ride, so I was a little concerned seeing the rider change to Madeline Rowland. However, she rode him back at the Meadowlands and she handled him beautifully when easily beating a full field at this condition. I also think that he was a little better last time than the slim margin of victory suggests. He was away a beat slow and was very pulling hard early, exerting a lot of energy in the process. However, he had enough left in the tank to grind by One Time Willard in the later stages of that race. Perhaps the barn and jockey change are the reason that One Time Willard is slightly favored over him on the morning line. I think they’re close, but at the same price, I think Leo Monte offers better value. One Time Willard always seems to show on the turf. He was a handy winner in N1X company two starts back. He moved up the class ladder but showed he belonged when Leo Monte was just a little bit better. He paired his last two Beyer Speed Figures, so there’s reason to believe that he could be moving forward in this next start in his current form cycle. I don’t love him as the favorite, but I think he’s right there with the top two.


Race 2:

This maiden special weight for three year olds and upward is going to be where I’m going to take a stand in the Win-Early Pick-5 sequence. There’s three shorter priced runners on the inside in this race, and I have my concerns about all three. Life On the Nile (#1) is 0-14. I liked that they tried to get him on the grass last week, but rain took that race off the turf. When you looked at the field that was remaining, he looked primed to get the elusive first win, entering the gate at 1-5 facing a field that looked hopelessly overmatched. However, he acted up in the gate and was forced to scratch. I still would like to see him on the turf, and there’s likely going to be an opportunity for him to do so at the Meadowlands in a few weeks. His last effort was not great against a strong field on the dirt though, and I’m not willing to take another short price on him. Malibu Springs (#2) and Standard of Proof (#3) both are coming in off layoffs and both faced some very salty competition in their debut races. Malibu Springs lost to Saudi Crown, who put up huge numbers in his debut at Keeneland in April. He ran 5th that day and was entered in the Keeneland April Sale a few days later, where he was sold for $85K, a figure that was about $70K less than the stud fee for his sire, Quality Road at the time. He was entered back in May at this level and was a vet scratch. He’s been gelded since that last start and now returns at two turns for a barn that doesn’t have great numbers off the layoff. Bettors will be enticed because of the solid Beyer number, but I’m concerned about his chances in this race. Standard of Proof was defeated by Verifying last year when he debuted in a maiden special weight race at Saratoga. He’s been on the sidelines for a little more than year and he’s been working locally for his return for Chad Brown. He’s the first foal to race from a modest dam, and his recent works are just okay. I might back up with these three on a saver ticket, but I’ll use Plenty of Time (#7) on top, trying to beat this trio. I don’t love maiden claiming horses jumping up to maiden special weight races, however, for a horse that was claimed for $50K two starts back to be entered at this level, tells me that he’s doing very well for Michael Pino. His last race at one mile over Parx was a solid effort, narrowly missing with $40K maiden claimers there. Paco Lopez taking the mount here, much like with the top choice in the first race, feels very telling to me. I don’t love the 3-1 figure, but I have enough doubts about the other runners, that I’d be comfortable using him as a single on a multi-race ticket. 


Race 3:

I’m interested in Tropandhagen (#7) on top in this maiden special weight for two year olds, going one mile on the turf. He’s a Penn National based horse that his connections thought high enough to enter him in a maiden special weight race this weekend at Saratoga. However, he’s 6th on the AE list in that race, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be making the 5 hour journey to New York from Grantville, PA. This race became a bit of a Plan B for them, cutting that travel time in half, but still shipping for his debut. Tyler Conner has won a bunch of races at Penn this summer and he’s making the trip to ride this runner from the freshman crop of Demarchelier. His runners are 0-8 so far, but the two runners that ran the best were running in two turn races, whereas the other six were sprinting. This barn does well with debut runners and two year olds, so I’d be willing to take a shot with him at longer odds. Midnight Council (#3) for Chad Brown feels like a logical favorite in this race. He’s based at Belmont and gets a start ahead of the Belmont at the Big A meet which starts in a few weeks. He’s from the freshman crop of Omaha Beach, where two of six runners have won in their debut on turf. The dam has produced some winners in turf routes as well as a few horses that won on debut. Brown always seems to have a very good maiden two year old debut here in September, having three two year old winners in this month at Monmouth in the past two years. Juan Avila sends out Arrow Speed (#1) for the first time. He’s Tapit colt out of an unraced mare that produced the multiple graded stakes winner, Avie’s Flatter. That one was also a debut winner. This barn debuted Camila T. in a turf sprint two weeks ago, who decimated her maiden special weight field by a whopping 13 lengths. She has the rail and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Olivero put him in play early, assuming he breaks well. While I think the firsters have the edge in this one, I will backup with Code Enforcer (#2) who moved early before leveling off in his debut back on August 6th. His trainer, Gregory Sacco, has good numbers with second time starters, and he attracted Paco Lopez to ride. 8-1 is a juicy number, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to get that number, especially if Paco does what I hope he’s going to do in the first two races today.


Race 4:

A field of 11 is entered in this $5K beaten claiming field, and what makes this race tricky is that many of these runners have recently gone off form after running better races earlier in the year. I’m not buying Bossman Jones (#4), who is the favorite in this race, taking a steep class drop, while making his first start since October. John Servis has not had a great meet and his numbers with runners off the layoff aren’t very good to begin with. There is a lot of state bred money in PA available for a horse like him, especially this time of year at Parx. Entering him for this $5K tag feels like a major red flag to me. I’m looking for horses that will be finishing with energy in this race and Vintage Hollywood (#10) fits the bill. He just missed last out at this level, losing by a neck after hitting the front late. He’s never finished off the board in six tries at this six furlong distance and in a race where others are trending down, I see him as a horse that could be in an upward swing. Motion to Strike (#5) might be the speed of the speed in this race. He makes his first start for Robert Falcone, who has great numbers recently with new acquisitions. After four consecutive races over the winter in New York where he ran Beyer Figures in 70’s, he’s has not ran back to that mark in his last four starts. He’s at his best when he’s dictating the terms of the race, and while there’s other speed in here, he might be able to put some of them away early and hang on late. In terms of speed figures, Tankinator (#7) is one of the more consistent runners in this field. He was claimed two back at this level when facing a deeper field. He was a distant third against two superior horses last time out, when he was sent off at 24-1. He’s been ignored in the wagering in both starts here and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if he went off at odds greater than his 10-1 morning line. I expect another honest effort from him in this race. 


Race 5:

A full field of 12 is entered with an AE in this $16K-$14K maiden claiming race going 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. I’m going to take a shot with a price and use second time starter, Veselsky (#3) on top in this race. He debuted with $40K maiden claimers at Belmont and was no match for that level. He’s been moved to Kathleen O’Connell’s barn and gets Lasix and blinkers for his second career effort. While there’s a lot of changes happening here, I do think he’s interesting from a pedigree standpoint. Practical Joke gets 11% winners in turf sprints and the dam foaled a graded stakes winner, sprinting on the turf. Spartan Boy (#1) wasn’t going to win at this level two back at Parx, but he was moving with interest, while in traffic, which is a key trait when breaking from the rail in a twelve horse scramble. He was forced to take up late, and finished 3rd, but was elevated to second after being interfered with in the stretch. He got tired late when finishing 4th in a two turn race at this condition last month. I think the 5 and ½ furlong distance in this race should suit him well and he should be able to save some ground out of the dogleg, as there are some decent runners stuck on the outside. Air Kenney (#8) broke from post 10 at this distance in his turf debut last month. He finished a distant third behind two horses that were significantly better than that field. There’s no one of the caliber in this race today, at least on paper, and I do see him as a horse that could improve in his second start off the layoff and his second try on grass. Sir Goosa (#12) is the morning line favorite who’s going to have to be a lot better than this group to win this race today. He has races that would likely beat this group, in spite of his wide draw. His effort two starts back when going two turns here was excellent. He cut back to a sprint last out and had a miserable trip, although, it is worth noting, that a lot of his issues last out where self-imposed. That race was certainly not Paco Lopez’s finest hour, and the rider switch to Samuel Marin, who has been hot of late, was made. I’ll use him as a backup in this spot because I’m not convinced that he work out a good enough trip from his wide draw, but there’s enough talent there I can’t completely ignore him either. 


WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $48 Ticket:

This ticket today is built around the idea that Plenty of Time (#7, R2) is going to be better than three shorter prices in that maiden special weight race. The back end of this ticket features two 11 horse fields and a 12 horse field where things seem to be wide open, so if we’re able to escape that race, I think the payoff could be worth it here. 


Race 6, The $100K Rumson Stakes:

The Late Pick-5 begins with the featured five furlong dirt dash Last year’s winner, Feast (#4) is back for me, but he seems like he has fallen too far off form to endorse him in this spot this season. Little Vic (#1), who ran a monster race in allowance company last year in his only local start, is the pick in this one. He was on a roll over the winter winning both the City of Laurel Stakes and the Grade 3 Tom Fool. He was given a little break after the Grade 1 Carter, but has been a bit dull in his last two starts, both against graded stakes foes. He was at his best in his third race off the layoff and beyond, and I predict he will right the ship here. Twisted Ride (#6) is going to be pushing him every step of the way from his outside draw. He comes into the race having won five of his last seven starts, three of which have come in stakes company. I’m not completely convinced he wants to go this distance, but I do think having an outside draw could be an advantage for him. Andy Hernandez has struggled locally at this meet this year, but he’s ridden this Great Notion gelding exceptionally since getting the mount on him at Parx for the first time at the end of January. Stage Left (#2) will be rolling late, but he’s another runner that I’m not sure about at this tricky distance. He was excellent in the King Leatherbury Stakes, which was taken off the turf back in April. If he can lay close without expounding too much energy, he’s going to be tough. 


Race 7:

With the rails being slotted at 0 feet, there’s another full field in this $16K-$14K conditioned claiming race. All runners with the exception of Angela’s Party Girl (#12) qualified for this race under the N2L condition. I think with that filly drawn in the far outside slot, and with other speed runners signed on, there should be a solid pace on in this race. That could work to the benefit some closers like both Capture My Dreams (#7) and Newton’s Star (#11). I like both of these runners, but I’ll make Newton’s Star the top pick, in hopes that she’ll be able to work out a decent trip from her outside post. Her maiden score two back with $16K-$14K maiden claimers was strong. She stepped up and faced N1X allowance types last out and was no match for that group. This feels like the right level of competition for her. Capture My Dreams will likely be trying to launch from farther out of it. Her recent form against better runners has been dull. However, her maiden score at the Meadowlands last fall was striking and I think she’s capable of better than what she’s shown lately. Can’t Complain (#2) is a candidate to site a strong inside trip, racing behind the early speed in this race. She was claimed by Darien Rodriguez at this level when she was a game second last time out. Draw a line through her nine furlong race against better runners and she fits quite well with this group today. 


Race 8:

The last Pick-3 of the afternoon begins with an optional $16K claiming.N1X allowance race going 1 mile and 1/16 on the main track. El Hermano (#1) comes back to Monmouth after a failed effort going nine furlongs on the dirt against a sharper bunch at Saratoga last month. He draws the rail today, meaning he could easily get the jump on some of his rivals in this race. He was third beaten a length at this level three back and second against a strong field on Haskell Day. Bourbon Thunder (#2) takes a considerable step up in class, however, he fits on figures in this race today. He’s looking to make it three straight wins after roughing up softer competition in his last two. He likes this track and figures to keep himself involved from the start in this one.  I think these are two that are the most dangerous in this spot. 


Race 9:

Fillies and mares are set to go nine furlongs in the final turf race of the afternoon. The morning line favorite is Cocoa Icing (#7), who is coming off a monster effort after getting a great trip with beaten $40K-$30K claimers last month. I’m not convinced that she can duplicate that effort at this level, so I’ll be looking for alternatives. Royal Dame (#2) is the top pick after running a strong third in her first start off the Dan Ward claim. I think her win at this distance with conditioned $40K-$30K claimers two back was better than it looks on paper, and she certainly outran her odds at 27-1 when she was beaten by White Lilacs. That one came back to narrowly miss against a very nice horse in N2X company and two other horses that finished behind her that day came back to win in their next starts. One of those horses is Ruda (#6), whose win came in an off the turf starter allowance race at Saratoga. She got back on the grass and was a game second No Valla, who came back to beat White Lilacs in a strong starter allowance race at Delaware on 8/31. She’s never run a bad race on the grass and she should appreciate the extra ½ furlong. Girly the Butcher (#1)is a longer priced runner in this race and she’s going to have to step up her game a little bit, however, I do see some upside with this four year old daughter of Tapit. She broke her maiden with $40K-$30K claimers two back with an impressive off the pace victory on a day where the rails were out at 36 feet. She was 3rd behind Cocoa Icing in that same beaten $40K-$30K claimer, however, her trip was not as good as the winners. She’s drawn inside today and she’s another runner that could move up with a little added distance. I’ll back up with Any Port (#4) on deeper tickets, but she’s one that I think will be more dangerous in her next start. She’s making her first start since beating state bred N1X allowance types in Florida. With the exception of her efforts in New York where she’s been overmatched, she’s been solid in all of her turf races. She broke her maiden on this course before running a stronger effort at the Meadowlands when facing winners for the first time. She’s one that I’ll be looking for when the all-turf racing in East Rutherford begins later this month, but she’s not without a chance with this group today.


Race 10:

The nightcap is a maiden  special weight for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs. I’m not sold on the Chad Brown debuting four year old, Karen’s Broomstick (#1). However, I do think there are a few first time starters that are live in this race. Midnight Wonder (#2) debuts for Kathleen DeMasi after an improving series of workouts. She’s worked well over this course since being sent here from Florida. Her sire Midnight Lute gets 13% winners from his debut runners and 16% winners in dirt sprints. Despite not foaling a debut winner, she did win at first asking as a two year old. Pep Rally (#7) makes her third career start for Kelly Breen. She wasn’t ready to debut in the fall when she was up the track at Laurel. She came back with a better effort off the layoff when she returned in July. I expect her to run a better race in this spot, which is not as deep as some of the other races at this condition. Royal Seamstress (#8) debuts for Claudio Gonzalez after progressively working faster throughout the month of August. This barn has been winning with everything at this meet. Gonzalez trained her dam, who was a multiple stakes winner. While her and none of her other two runners have won on debut, and Irish War Cry doesn’t have great numbers with firsters, I trust the connections enough to use her. 


Meet Statistics/Notes:

Top Pick Winners: 96/421 (22.8%) – $684.10/$1.62 ROI 


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