There’s eleven races on tap for the Sunday afternoon program at Monmouth Park, highlighted by the 87th running of the $200K Sapling Stakes for two year olds going one mile on the main track. This is another stakes with a storied history, as horses like Alydar, Bet Twice, Gilded Time, and Smoke Glacken have all won this race on their way to future Grade 1 victories. While this race hasn’t had the same stature of late, Monmouth Park has shown a commitment to try to revive it to it’s past glory by increasing the purse this season. Paco Lopez continues to be red hot, coming off a six-win day yesterday, including a win in the Red Bank Stakes with the heavy favorite, Value Proposition. Only two of his six winners yesterday went off as the favorite in their respective races, so there is still value to be had betting on a jockey with a 30% winning percentage at the meet.
|1||5||7,8||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||2,4,6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||2,10,11||5||9||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|7||7||6||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|8||1,8||3,10||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 5
The days starts off with a $22K-$18K claiming contest on the grass. Projected (5) is a gutsy nine year old gelding that has 13 wins in 49 career starts. He’s also finished second another 14 times, so he is about as professional as they come. He is moving up in class, but I would argue that some of the $12,500-$10,500 claiming races that he was running in had more depth than this field. He has some tactical speed and a better starting post than he’s had in his last several starts. That should keep him close to Kitten Street (2) in the early going, not letting that one get away with setting slow fractions on the front end. Kurilov (8) is one that would benefit from a strong early pace. He circled the field to beat open $20K claimers at Ellis last out. It’s interesting to see him ship here is lieu of running in the 9/8 $20K claiming race at Kentucky Downs on Wednesday. However, that field came up considerably deeper than this one. Ransack, who beat him by 4 and ¾ lengths at Churchill two back is entered in that race and is 8-1 on the morning line. He definitely has a better shot here and didn’t really run the risk of possibly ending up on the AE list. American Ninja (7) is the morning line favorite coming off a dull effort at Delaware last out with optional claiming/starter allowance company. He’s dropping to open claiming company for the first time in almost a year. His previous two wins at similar levels were wins at Gulfstream last summer. Paco Lopez rode him to victory at Parx back in June and reunites with him today.
Race 2: Top Pick: 6
V.I.P. Who (2) and Luxero (4) are going to take the bulk of the money in the win pool in this multi-conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claiming contest. Both should be tough, but there are enough question marks with both of them that make me want to try to look for a little value. Dohko (6) could be the one to pull off the mild upset in his first start since finishing 3rd here with similar in June. He tends to hit the board considerably more than he wins, so there’s going to need to be some value on him here. However, he likes the course and is capable of running big races from time to time. Luxero has hit the board in his last two starts at this level, beaten by a pair of runaway winners. He’s winless since the Gonzalez claim back in March at Laurel, but he’s starting to round back into some of his better form. V.I.P. Who is the morning line favorite and the one to beat here. He takes a significant drop after just missing with multi-conditioned claimers in his last start at the end of July. His three two turn races in his career have all been sharp, but the steep drop in class, while running well with better is puzzling to me.
Race 3: Top Pick: 7
Maiden fillies and mares sprint 5 and ½ Furlongs on the turf while running with a $16K-$14K tag here. It’s hard to look past the NYRA invader, Adele Kat (7), who ships in and finds a very soft field for her local debut. Her debut at Belmont at 6 Furlongs on the turf was strong when facing $40K maiden claimers that day. After that start, she moved up in class in her next three turf starts, struggling a bit in those spots. She runs for the lowest level in her career to date, which isn’t a major concern to me, as she was purchased for only $16K last year at the OBS Open Sale last year. Toss her last effort on the dirt and she appears to be a solid single in this spot.
Race 4: Top Pick: 2
I found this $8K-$7K N4L claiming race to be an extremely tough handicapping puzzle. I ended up with Allied Invasion (2) as my top pick in hopes that he can run by the field in the stretch. He benefitted from some strong internal fractions last out, setting up his late move in a race which he won when going off at 15-1. Jesus Cruz claimed him out of his last race, which is a positive barn change in my eyes, as his winning percentage is significantly better than his last three trainers. Orbert (3) just missed at this level last out, unable to get by Gio d’Oro in the final strides. His form has been up and down throughout this chapter of his career, but he consistently runs his best races on the dirt at two turns. He has some solid races on this oval and should be a threat in this field. Bananas on Fire (5) ran here last week and was a dull 4th, 11+ lengths behind Curlin’s Thrill, who ambushed that field with a powerful rail move, going from last to first on the far turn. He drops in class and could be ready to run back to one of his better efforts. 5-2 seems a little short on him, but I think he’s playable if his odds float up over that morning line figure.
Race 5: Top Pick: 4
Coverage will be key for me in this race that ends the Win Early Pick-5 sequence. Carol Cedeno is a perennial leader in the jockey standings over at Delaware, and she is named to ride Half is Enough (4) for Mike Trombetta in her debut. That’s an interesting move as she hasn’t ridden much for him over the last two years. Regardless, she’s a $150K purchase that is sired by Frosted out of an Indian Charlie mare. She was working well at Belmont before drilling at Fair Hill last week to prepare for this start. Ladro Di Fichi (5) was away slow in her debut at this level last month, when You Look Cold ran a big race to break her maiden on debut. That one is entered tomorrow in the Sorority Stakes. This one ran on late, passing some tired rivals to get up to be third. She could take a step forward with a clean break. Put a Bow On it (6) debuts for Steve Asmussen after a strong work on this oval last week. She was only purchased for $9,500, which is over $30K less than her sire’s (Tiznow) stud fee. However, she has been working well in the AM, and has a decent post near the outside for her debut. Lady G (1) is making her 4th career start today. She’s sired by Into Mischief and her dam (Sweet Loretta) was a Grade 1 winner as a two year old, winning the Spinaway at Saratoga back in 2016. This one has underperformed in her first few starts, but she certainly can move forward here. Speranza (2) is the morning line favorite that I’ll be trying to beat on my main ticket. Her works are ok, and her trainer, Anthony Margotta sends out this $200K daughter of Into Mischief. Marogtta is definitely a capable trainer, but Todd Pletcher tends to train the better horses for St. Elias Stables. If her price goes up, she may be more a bit more enticing.
Win-Early Pick 5 Play: $54.00 Ticket
Race 1: 5, 7, 8
Race 2: 2, 4, 6
Race 3: 7
Race 4: 2, 3, 5
Race 5: 1, 4, 5, 6
Race 6: Top Pick: 11
Fillies and mares that have never won twice run with a $16K-$14K tag at 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf. The morning line favorite is She Fled The Scene (9) and she’s going to be a tough proposition for me to take anywhere near her 3-1 morning line. She’s a consistent runner that has hit the board in 15 of her 23 career starts. However, when only one of those races is a win, it feels like she’s established a pattern. I’ll use her as a backup on some of the deeper multi-race exotics, and she will be used underneath in all of my vertical wagers. I’m not crazy about the post, but I think Razzledazzlem (11) is worth a look in this race. She made her first start off a four month layoff last week at Delaware in an off the turf race at this level. She showed brief speed before falling back and jogging home. Blinkers are added and she gets back on the grass today. She ran two strong races with better horses at Tampa this spring on turf when going a route of ground. If she can get back to those races, she’s dangerous here. Wicked Groove (10) is another one that wasn’t done any favors with her post position, however, she has been very good in her last two races going two turns on the turf. She was third in a three photo two back on the wire when English Charmer (2) got the best of the bob that day. She came back with an improved effort to break her maiden with $16K-$14K maiden claimers last month, winning by 4+ lengths. The filly who finished second, Lullaby Land, was a winner here last week. She definitely has more upside than many in here as she faces winners for the first time. English Charmer (2) faced winners of the first time last month at Pimlico and was a respectable second on a yielding course, despite being three wide on both turns. She gets some considerable post relief in this spot, after proving she can run on course that is less than firm. She fits well at this level, and is certainly playable with many of the main threats stuck on the outside. Taqseemaat (5) has been away since breaking her maiden with $40K maiden claimers at Parx at the end of June. She’s been on the lead in all three of her career starts and appears to be the fastest of these in the early stages as well. She’s the second choice on the morning line at 4-1, and she’s one that I’d want to have covered in my multi-race tickets. However, she’s that kind of horse that might end up as the post time favorite, and I’m not sure that she’ll offer the best value.
Race 7: Top Pick: 7
The late Pick-5 sequence starts off with another N2L claiming race, this one for three year olds and up running with a $30K-$25K tag, at 1 Mile 70 yards on the main track. When first looking at this race, I was a little put off by the most recent effort from Regality (7). He set a soft pace with N2L allowance company when going two turns for the first time at Finger Lakes. He was making his first start off the claim for Jeffrey Englehart that day and was gelded shortly thereafter. He’s bred to be a good two turn horse, sired by Travers winner, Alpha, out of an Include mare. I really don’t see anyone that has an interest in challenging him early, and I’m expecting that his last race will prove to be a good educational experience for him. Ink (6) has four sharp efforts in a row at Pimlico with optional claiming/starter allowance company. This spot is a little bit of class relief, and I’m guessing with racing in Maryland shifting to the bullring at Timonium, Gonzalez brings him here for a race. His regular rider, Angel Cruz, is named to make the trip to ride.
Race 8: Top Pick: 8
This $12,500-$10,500 open claiming contest for fillies and mares on the turf is absolutely wide open. I’d want some coverage in this race as there are many chances. This is the kind of race that Paco Lopez has been winning lately. He’s on Instinctive (8), who makes her first start after being claimed for $5K at Colonial last month. This one has a good record on the turf and fits pretty well with this field. She has some tactical speed, so I’ll expect that Lopez will have her in the right spot early on to give her the best chance to win. She’s been sharp in her last three and is live while facing a tougher field today. Caribbean Kitten (1) looked like she needed her last race at Colonial when she made her first start since February. She was in good form last fall and winter, winning three of her four career races in a four month span. Trainer Fausto Gutierrez hasn’t had a starter at the meet yet, but he’s won with 26% of the horses he’s started in 2021. He’s also been very sharp when sending out horses in their second race off the layoff. C’Est Mardi (10) is an interesting horse that might be overlooked in the wagering here. She was a winner here in an off the turf race two back with $16K-$14K N4L claimers. She was a winner on this course last year so getting back on grass for the first time since September could wake her up. Scatnap (3) was claimed by Wayne Potts for $5K two weeks ago when she dominated a field of time restricted claimers to score her 12th victory in 51 career starts. Five of those wins have come on the turf. Her most recent grass effort was solid when facing allowance company on the Haskell undercard. She’s another one that has a live look in here.
Race 9: The $200K Sapling Stakes: Top Pick: 7
Six of the eight entered in the featured stakes race for two year olds at one mile on the main track are shipping in from another track. There are runners that were last seen at Saratoga, Belmont, Pimlico, Gulfstream, and Prairie Meadows in this wide open contest. Christopher Davis, who might not be a familiar name to those on the East Coast yet, has had a very good year running horses in the Midwest. He sends out American Sanctuary (7) who like everyone else in here, is making his first start at two turns. He was closing well to be second in the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes at 6 Furlongs. All but one winner on that card was farther back than two lengths in the first quarter mile, so it’s fair to say that speed was pretty good on that course. Sophie Doyle rode him to his dominating win in his first start on dirt two starts back, and she’s coming in to ride him today. Double Thunder (1) is going to be the main danger. He’s the only graded stakes winner in the field, winning the Bashford Manor in June while going from last to first. He debuted on this course in June, and returns here after a 4th place finish in the Saratoga Special. He was forced six wide on the turn, and gained ground, but was no match for High Oak that day. The winner and runner up of that race will face his stablemate, Wit, tomorrow in the Grade 1 Hopeful. He’s shown that he’s effective as a closing sprinter, and his pedigree suggests that he’ll be better at two turns. Chancellor Bay (4) faces winners for the first time after a solid effort to break his maiden when going 7 Furlongs at Gulfstream last out. He had a few nice works at Palm Meadows in the interim. Cristian Torres comes in to ride this son of Honor Code.
Race 10: Top Pick: 3
The last grass race of the day is for fillies and mares that have never won two races, running with a $16K-$14K tag. Why Not Tonight (4) is the deserving favorite who has three solid races on the turf after starting her career with three miserable dirt races. She was a close 4th here with better two back, and finished a close 4th again with starter allowance company at Colonial last out. She comes back here and drops to a level where she definitely has an advantage over most of these. My concern is that there’s very little speed signed on for this race and she likes to run on from the back of the field. I’ll use her as an A horse, but I’m going to take a swing with Twisted Treasure (3) to maybe try to take this group gate to wire. Toss her last start on dirt last week where she never picked up her feet. She had an excuse two back when she missed the break in a similar spot and never was able to secure any type of early position. She stalked the lead three back when she graduated from the maiden ranks and she’s capable of setting of the pace early if left alone. Lexophilia (6) is another one that could be forwardly placed in here. She looked like she needed her last start, which was her first since February. She was second in a similar race at Tampa back in January. She might need to run a career top to be victorious, but she’s a four year old, only making her 9th career start, so better efforts could still be in store.
Race 11: Top Pick: 2
The nightcap is a $5K claiming for fillies and mares who have either never won three races or haven’t won a race in six months. I’m intrigued by R B C Gold (2) who has two dominating wins in her last two dirt races on this course. She beat multi-conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claimers last out in what was essentially a race for non-winners of two lifetime. She ran a career top that day, drawing off to win by five widening lengths. Three back, she crushed a field of off the turf maiden claimers to break her maiden in a very slow heat. Her figures are a little light, but there’s room to improve as she’s won by big margins. Pecan Pattie (7) looms the main danger in here, taking a significant drop in class after dull try on turf with better last out. She was third beaten four lengths when facing optional claiming/starter allowance foes two back on the main track. She definitely has a class edge on this field. I think these will be two that decide this race.
Meet Stats: 116/416 (Top Pick Winners) – $779.50 / $1.87 ROI per $2 win bet