The penultimate day of the racing at the Jersey Shore offers a 10 race program, highlighted by the Smoke Glacken Stakes. This is a six furlong stakes race for two year olds, featuring six runners that broke their maidens on this oval, two runners that graduated elsewhere, and a New Jersey bred first time starter. There are four races carded for the turf, with the rails at 0 feet today. 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||10||4,10||11||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||8||8||7||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|5||6||6,10||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|6||4||4,6||1||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|7||9||2,9,10||12||DBL, PK3, PK4|
$16K-$14K filly and mare maiden claimers start the final Saturday of the meet Here We Go Again (#10) is an interesting runner that ships in from Saratoga for Robert Falcone. She made her first start of the year in a $40K state bred maiden claimer at the beginning of their meet in upstate New York. She flashed some early speed before plummeting through the field and finishing last, while taking some money at the windows. Falcone adds Lasix for the first time after a race where she might have bled. Her last race as a two year old, suggested that she has enough ability to contend at this level. However, I handicapped this race prior to the morning line coming out. 3-1 feels awfully low, as I was thinking closer to 6-1. I’ll leave her as the top pick and hope to get better value, however, if she’s favored over Never So Lucky (#4) when the gates open up, I would say the value play comes that filly. I was quite surprised to see that Never So Lucky was not favored after finishing third in both career starts at this level. She was claimed last time out by Jose Delgado, who has good numbers first off the claim. She doesn’t have a ton of early speed, which may not be ideal for a race like this and I don’t love that she’s running back at this same level. However, I do know that options are limited for this level, and she does have more upside than most. I also cover with Aperol Spritz (#11), who came up empty when making her first start since April. She closed a lot of ground when closing from last to finish 3rd in her turf debut when facing state bred maiden claimers at Aqueduct that day. She returned last month at this level and was well backed at the windows, finishing 6th, about 12 lengths behind Never So Lucky. She likely needed that last race, so I’m expecting her to perform better than she did that day. The outside post is no picnic at this distance though, so Nik Juarez is going to have to work out a trip.
With only two days left, there’s been a lot of New Jersey bred races carded on the main track over the last few weeks. There will be opportunities for them to run on grass at the Meadowlands over the next five weekends, but this is it for state bred races in the Garden State on the dirt. As a result, several horses in this race and the 4th race are running back quicker than they normally might. You have a morning line favorite, Running Right By U (#5), that is 0–1 at two turns and has never gone this far. In addition, the second choice, Country Miles (#4) is 0-8 at this distance and his only trip to the Winner’s Circle came almost three full years ago. I can’t back either on top in this race, so I’ll look to the outside and make I’m On Fire (#8) the top choice. He’ll need to run a career top race to win in his 4th career start, but I think that’s a reasonable expectation. His dam was also campaigned by McBurney, and she broke her maiden in her 4th career start, which was her first race at two turns. This gelding came from off the pace in a six furlong state bred maiden allowance race to win on debut. He tried open allowance company and was thoroughly trounced in a highly competitive 12 horse field. He came at this level two weeks ago and rallied into 4th after breaking slowly. McBurney has good numbers with horses going from sprints to routes for the first time. Two of his 12 winners at this current meet fit that profile. If he doesn’t get the job done, I’ll look to Crafty Don (#7) to save the day. He’s been soundly defeated in his last two starts when facing considerably better fields. He was an allowance winner three starts back when going one mile when facing similar company. His trainer, Ruperto Perez, opted to enter him with the $15K tag, which is not a concern to me at this point in his career. I’m expecting a rebound from here.
I’m not sold on the heavy favorite, Coco Shell (#8) in this conditioned $12,500-$10,500 claiming race. He has a bit of a good race, bad race pattern going on right now and he’s entering this race off a career top effort. He’s drawn the outside post for this race, and I think he’s vulnerable in this spot. He’ll be on the deepest saver tickets for me. I’ll look to El de Chimi (#6) as the top pick here, dropping to the lowest level in his career yet. I’m hoping this is a case of a horse doing what he likes to do best. He was an impressive maiden special weight winner last summer, drawing off to win by over seven lengths in his second career start. That race was contested at one mile on the main track. He was competitive in two stakes races for two year olds on the grass after that, but was dull in two stakes races on the dirt. He went back to the grass in his last two where he still struggled a bit. This will be his first dirt route since that maiden score last year and he’s facing the weakest group that he’s seen to date, Financial Strength (#5) was claimed by Silvino Ramirez after finishing third with conditioned $7,500-$6,500 claimers in his last start. Coco Shell leveled him two back, but Maddie Oliver eased him up once it was apparent that he would be no better than 4th in that four horse field. His last effort was more competitive and I can see him building off that effort. He’ll need to improve to make up the 3 and ½ lengths on I Run (#2), who was second in that same race last time. I like when Gonzalez puts Rojas on a horse that ran well in their last start for another rider. Jomar Torres likely opted to ride Coco Shell, as he rode both of these runners last out. Rojas continues to put up big numbers when riding for the meet’s leading trainer.
We have another state bred optional claiming/allowance race, this one for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs. Violets Smile (#9) feels like the one to beat after a strong 4th place finish at this level in a five furlong turf sprint last week. She’s run three times at this six furlong distance in her nine race career. The first was her debut where she finished off the board, but her last two races at that trip were two of her best. She broke her maiden in June and just missed at long odds two starts back. She has some other poor efforts sandwiched in between those races, but I think this distance is “just right” for her, and the outside post should give her a decent advantage over her eight rivals. Caliente Rum (#8) is where I’d back up in this spot. She was a two time winner here in 2022, winning at this condition last June. She has not finished in the money in her 10 starts since, but many of those races have come against better fields. She fits with this group on figures and should run a more competitive race today.
A field of 11 fillies and mares has been assembled for this $12,500-$10,500 claiming race, going 5 and ½ furlongs on the turf. I’m going to try to escape the last leg of the Win-Early Pick-5 with only two runners. Moving In Stereo (#6) intrigues me while trying a turf sprint for the first time. She tried the grass for the first time in her 18th career start last week .She finished a solid third in that race behind Pugilist, who has been dominant at this $12,500-$10,500 level, and Boston Princess. She finished in front of some more accomplished turf runners that day when making an eye-catching late run after breaking slow. She couldn’t sustain her bid against the top two, but all of her best work on the dirt has come in one turn races. Perhaps that was a little too far for her. She cuts back to 5 and ½, where she does have enough tactical speed to avoid falling too far behind early assuming she gets out of the gate cleanly. 12-1 (ML) feels like a nice price to take a shot with her on the short rest. Magic Moonstar (#10) got a poor post, but she feels like she is absolutely the one to beat in this race. She aimed high when trying the Incredible Revenge Stakes last month, and she didn’t embarrass herself, finishing 6th, a shade more than four lengths behind a very nice filly in All That Magic. She wants to be forwardly placed, so she should get a good stalking trip if she can avoid losing too much ground out of the dogleg. I don’t love the drop in class, but this is probably a reasonable spot for a six year old mare based in the Mid-Atlantic where there’s going to be less and less turf options for her with each passing day of this calendar year. I’ll be fading both Crowding Out (#4) and Threatlevelmidnite (#5) in this race. Crowding Out has been awful since being claimed three back for $25K. I don’t see her completely reversing her form at this level. Threatlevelmidnite would have been one that I’d try to beat in this race, however, she ran and finished yesterday at Colonial, so conventional wisdom tells you that she’ll scratch from this spot.
WIN-EARLY PICK-5, $36 Ticket:
I had trouble finding a single in this sequence today, however, there are three races where I;m more than comfortable using only two runners. In each of those races, I’m siding against the morning line favorites, so the potential for a decent sized ticket remains. I do like Moving In Stereo (#6, R5), who is listed at 12-1 prior to the almost certain scratch of Threatlevelmidnite (#5, R5) in the last leg of this sequence.
I think there’s going to be a decent amount of money coming in on Buff Hello (#6) in this optional $16K claiming/N1X allowance race. He’s had two starts in his four year old campaign, both of them here at this distance and both of them have been strong victories. He ran a huge race two back to beat time restricted $40K-$30K claimers with ease. I didn’t think he’d be able to run back to that effort when facing a field of 12 at this level four weeks ago, but he came back with a better performance, beating a few of these runners. Dan Ward claimed him out of that race and I’m a little concerned that he entered him back at this level with the $16K tag, as opposed to looking for a protected spot. If Ward follows in Hollendorfer’s footsteps, I’d assume he’ll have a presence at Oaklawn over the winter where the purses will be higher than ever. He’s a PA bred, so there would be opportunities for decent purses in the area as well. My concern is that his new connections aren’t seeing him as a long term investment if they’re entering him for this tag. Taking home the winner’s share of $60K certainly allows for a decent ROI, with minimal risk if he is claimed again. I will cover with him today, instead of trying to beat him outright, but I do think Critical Threat (#4), coming off the bench for Horacio De Paz is an interesting horse that could be flying late. He just missed last year in N3L claiming company at Saratoga when De Paz claimed him at Saratoga. His next two starts at this level in Maryland weren’t great though. They shut him down and are bringing him back after six works at Laurel. I’m intrigued that they’re sending him here, as opposed to waiting for a race at Pimlico to fill, seeing as how De Paz doesn’t typically race here. He likes to run from the back of the pack, which has been a running style that has played well here over the last few months and with Just Beat the Odds (#1) drawing the rail, the early tempo should be solid. I’d like Just Beat the Odds more in this spot, facing winners for the first time, had he not drawn the rail. His better efforts have come when he was drawn outside. He was second when drawing the rail three back, and he did come back to hit the board after getting shuffled back that day. However, that kind of trip is not likely going to be successful with this group. His best move is to try to send from the inside and see how far he can take them. Between the hot weather and the scattered storms around the area over the last three days, the track profile could certainly be changing to favor inside speed, so if that seems to be happening earlier on the card, I’d consider upgrading him, because I do see him as a horse that definitely has some ability and should be clearing this condition in the near future.
I’m going to shoot for a price in this conditioned $16K-$14K claimer on the turf. Kelly Breen sends out Morethanicanhandle (#9) off a two month break and after three straight sprint races. This horse has always been better going longer on the grass, breaking his maiden at this distance on this course last July. He has failed to hit the board since that race, but only three of those seven races came in turf routes. Something appeared to be amiss after his first start with winners last August, as he wasn’t seen again until December. His other two turf routes were by far his best efforts in that span. Admittedly, the presence of I Lucked Out (#12) is a concern for me, as Vargas is likely going to have to gun it for the lead with him from his far outside post. However, I do think he can be forward on a course that has played kindly to horses with that running style lately. He fits at this distance and at this level and if he can move up just a bit from his last two turf routes, he can be a player in this group. 20-1 (ML) is a fair number to take that chance. Triple Start (#2) and Go Green (#10) are two of the three horses in this field with more than one victory. Triple Start is the lukewarm morning line favorite after a win at this level two back and a narrow defeat by the slimmest of margins at this level last month. He;s drawn well for the race that he wants to run,so he should be able to save ground while sitting off what could be a decent pace. He’s going to be tough with this group. Go Green is another interesting horse to use at longer odds. He wasn’t great in his logical starts, but he’s coming off a solid effort last out with $12,500-$10,500 N2L claimers at Colonial. He’s an improving three year old who has a less than ideal two back at this level. He sat a good stalking trip last out in Virginia and I think Samuel Marin would be wise to try to work out that same kind of trip from his wide draw again today. I Lucked Out still makes sense in this race, even if Vargas has to use him pretty hard out of the gate. Pino re-claimed him for $16K and enters him back at that same tag. His three career turf races are solid, but this a big ask for a young horse with only five career tries. I’ll cover with him because he still has more upside than most.
Race 8, The $100K Smoke Glacken Stakes:
Although this an open stakes race, it’s interesting to see that six of the nine entrants were bred in New Jersey. Furthermore, four of those state bred runners were sired by Sea Wizard, who has done very well with a limited sample size of state bred runners in his first two seasons at stud. However, I think Shea D World (#7) is the one to beat in this race. He’s the only two time winner in this field, breaking his maiden at Gulfstream and then dominating an allowance field at 5 and ½ furlongs on the main track in Delaware last month. His only local start came in the Tyro Stakes on the grass, where he was third behind No Nay Mets, who is a very promising two year old turn sprinter that is entered in a stakes race at Kentucky Downs this afternoon. The runner up in that race, Ship Cadet, was a winner in his next start, so clearly that was a quality race. He’s from the freshman crop of World of Trouble, who was a talented runner on both surfaces. There is the potential for a hot pace though, and he does like to be out on the front end. Book’em Danno (#8) was bet like a good thing when he crushed a field of state bred maidens here last month. He let the pace develop in front of him and came over the top with a strong three wide bid. If that’s the kind of trip that is winning in the dirt races this afternoon, I’d definitely upgrade his chances to the point of possibly using him as a single. On deeper tickets, I’d consider using Ship to Shore (#3), who the Sea Wizard sired runner that I’m most interested in. He led gate to wire when debuting with open maidens in a 4 and ½ furlong dash at the beginning of June. He resurfaced in the Tyro Stakes on the grass where he found himself much farther off the pace. I do like that he passed some runners to get up into 5th, even though he was beaten 11 lengths. He finished about 4 and ½ lengths behind Shea D World, so perhaps he can make up that ground with a little added distance today.
I really liked the effort from A Western Yarn (#3)in his last start, which was a state bred N1X allowance at Parx at the end of July. He’s an improving three year old that ran well enough at Tampa to be third behind future stakes winners, Talk of the Nation and Mo Stash, in the Columbia Stakes in March. He has done his best work on the front end, but he folded badly two back behind Nagirroc in the James Murphy Stakes on Preakness Day when he lost the early battle for the front end. He was away for two months, and it appeared that rating off the pace was a focal point in his Fair Hill drills leading up to that race. He was comfortable inside of horses and had to gently tap on the brakes once or twice while waiting for room. I liked that he had multiple moves in that race and that he still outfinished a runner to his inside with a better trip and a next out winner that was flying down the outside of the course. He finds an evenly matched field here in open N1X company, and I think with Great King (#1) drawing the inside once again, he can work out a similar trip. Great King is one to watch after reluctantly giving up the lead in deep stretch while under siege at this level last out. He was bet down from 10-1 on the morning to 5-1 at post time, and he did most of the heavy lifting while under pressure every step of the way. That was his first time going two turns on the track since finishing 8th on the Tapeta at Gulfstream in November. He’s 0-3 in North America at two turns, so I do worry about him holding the lead in the final furlong. However, horses that have been lying closer to the front end have had an advantage on this course overt the last few weeks. El Hermano (#8) was 4th beaten two at this level on the main track on Sunday, His trainer, Silvino Ramirez, has done well running back horses in less than a week, and he opts to get this one back on the grass to do so. He does have two wins and two second place finishes on the grass in his career, so the surface switch is not an issue for me. He tends to run a solid race on any surface when he’s in good form and he tends to throw in a clunker when he’s not in the best form. He’s been running consistent figures in his six tries on dirt here this season, so at 10-1 or better, I’d be willing to use him as a value play with these. Artie’s Angel (#10) has three solid efforts in a row in claiming races. His last two starts were his first two races of 2023, so if he’s going to move forward off those big efforts, this would be the likely spot for him to do so. Paco Lopez is not here to ride today as he’s in Virginia to ride No Nay Mets among others. Jairo Rendon has been riding this course as well as anyone this summer, so I have no problem with him picking up the mount. However, trying to beat these
I think Arrow Shape (#6) has a huge shot in the nightcap, which is for time restricted $12,500-$10,500 claimers, going six furlongs. She’s coming off a strong effort with starter allowance company last time out, where she finished a close up second, going off at 10-1. Her three races at this meet on fast tracks were all solid, even though two of them came with lesser company. Her lone start at this level was her worst local try, but that came on a sloppy and sealed race course, which I’d be willing to forgive. I think she fits perfectly from a race shape perspective with both Song Saver (#1) and Kashan (#2) drawn inside. Sweet Surprise (#8) may be going too short, but she’s the one that I’d back up with. If storms come through the area and leave us with a sloppy course, she’d be a big upgrade for me. She has been facing significantly better horses than most of these ladies, and while her three starts in 2023 have not been good, she should be more competitive with this level. On a fast track, I worry that the six furlongs is too short for her, but if the track comes up wet, her affinity for off tracks should neutralize the less than ideal distance for her.
Top Pick Winners: 100/438 (22.8%) – $739.10/$1.69 ROI