It’s a short show this week with PTF away at Ascot but still on hand to chat about a huge Saturday of racing at Monmouth Park. Special guest Brian Skirka of Monmouth is here to discuss a quartet of stakes races highlighted by the Grade 1 United Nations.
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Your listening to the, in the money players podcast. Hello, and welcome to the, in the money players podcast. Peter Thomas, back with you. Happy to be with you from Royal asset from the Royal enclosure at Royal Ascot, this race meeting folks. It’s just, it’s incredible. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
I am having so much fun here this week. This is the middle of this amazing day. Frankie Dettori is happening on Thursday, gold cup day, ladies day. Also, I was instructed before. It’s one of those things. There’s a couple of races like this in England. Uh, the Epsom Darby is one. They ask a gold cup is another.
If you actually think Epsom Darby, we’re asking gold, whatever you get in trouble, people get at. Because it’s just the dark, it’s just the gold cup. These were the original, everything else came after these. So it’s almost insulting to the original, in many people’s view here, if you, uh, if you don’t address it that way.
So it’s gold cup day, not asking for something it’s gold cup day here at ASCA. And very unusual show. It’s sort of a quick hitter today. Um, just with the travel schedule, I’m sure folks understand very difficult to get recording set up. We’re going to do something a little bit different. I’m going to leave J K and control of our sister show the NY Rosette show.
He’s going to be on there. There’ll be talking about whatever he wants to talk about. I’m just going to make that his baby. This is going to be, uh, my baby and what I really wanted to make sure we did this weekend is talked about this amazing weekend at Monmouth park, Monmouth park, taking center stage in American horse racing this weekend.
There’ll be plenty of more Ascott to recap when we get to next week, we might do that a little bit on. Oh, we’re in the ring pedigree podcast as well. We’ll certainly be certainly be doing it here, but for today we have special guests in Brian Skurka of Monmouth park to talk about their weekend. And we’re just going to go right to him.
Let’s bring in Brian Skurka right now in American racing. This weekend has entirely to do with Monmouth park and our friends there. So we bring in from Monmouth park, our friend, Brian Skurka. Brian, how are you doing today? I’m doing great, Pete, I’m happy to be with you again. We’ve got a great card on Saturday.
And, you know, the way the racing calendar has sort of changed over the last few years in the U S with Belmont going ape in terms of loading every graded stake and its brother on Belmont weekend. This weekend is pretty quiet. Churchill had their big weekend, five grade six last weekend. I feel like Monmouth park kind of owns the roost rules.
The roost, I should say this weekend. How’s that? Uh, How how’s that been working out? I mean, was it, was this a conscious plan or is it just something that sort of happened and how excited are you for this weekend? No, it was an absolute plan. W it actually, this is the first year that we’re actually running into the UN this weekend, normally next weekend.
And we kind of sat back last year during the off season. The next weekend is the summit of speed down a Gulf stream. And it’s Queen’s plate day up at Woodbine. And we kind of looked around and we said, you know, why are we going up against these two other big days? You know, maybe if we move it one way or the other, we could find a day or a weekend that we could pretty much have all to ourselves.
And that’s what we had. Um, you know, we kind of assumed other people’s take schedules and it, it worked out really well for us. Exactly what you said. You know, there’s no real big day, anywhere in the cousin, anywhere else in the country. This Saturday, other than mom was parked with our four, six races headlined by the United nations.
So we’re, we’re very hopeful for a big day. Not going up against the anyone else’s big day. All right. Let’s start with the graded stakes action. It begins if I’m reading this correctly in race seven, with the Eaton town, what do we have on tap here? You are reading it correctly. And we have a field of six, it looks like here.
So a very interesting race, um, you know, because we have the four stakes races, you see a lot of, have a very familiar names, nationally, you know, Chad Brown, um, not only has sources for the UN, but then he brings in some other horses for some of the quote unquote undercard races. Um, the big time jockeys are in town.
Jose Ortiz, Wisconsin is here. Louis says is here again after being here, um, last Sunday. Um, for the big horse, obviously, but I’m going with local connections with the one horse valedictorian Kelly Brene stabled here year round, taco Lopez, just back from suspension. Uh, he is a perennial leading rider here at Monmouth park.
They’ve drawn the rail. This horse did some really, really good work down at Gulf stream over the winter there, beat rim SCA and a great three down there. Finished half a length behind. Pre SUSE or however you pronounce that Chad Brown horse is very good beat Proctor’s ledge. And overnight stakes down at Goldstream park is three for four.
And her career here over the mamas park turf. I liked the rail draw for her, and I said, taco Lopez, being a board and with maybe Chad Brown source and flexibility thing to the outside, you might have an opportunity to get a somewhat decent price. Maybe second, um, probably a second choice in there. I would say for valedictorian, uh, from the rail and the Eatontown.
All right. From there, we pick up with race 10, the Iceland, where are we thinking? We’re going to find the winner in this spot, right? I’m going to go right back to the rail again and back to the horse that I think last time I won a couple of studies two times ago, when I was on your show, that was battle Harper.
I picked him in the Salvador mile and just a horrible break that day really had no shot actually put in a huge move around the far turn to get an into contention. That was one of those races where. Two steps out of the gate. You’re like, all right, this horse has no shot. And then as they came around the far turn, he actually was just catapulting past horses and like, can he possibly be this good to win?
And he wasn’t after that start and kind of flattened out, but still finished a great third. And you know, he, he lost at least three, four lengths at the start. Just, just unlucky that day, took him way out of position with last by many. He wants to be sitting kind of mid pack, but this is a race that. One is interesting in terms of who shows up.
And two is interesting from a pay standpoint, there was a lot of speed last time in the Salvador mile, which is the reason why I liked bell Harbor from off the pace. There’s a lot of speed. I think again, on Saturday Navy commander, the two has speed running to love you. It was just an awesome horse to have in the Eastland here.
This, this. You know, the Charlestown classic winner who’s, you know, won a million in a row down at Charlestown. Now takes his game on, on the road here to Monmouth park. It’s fun to have him here. Diamond King, who run into love. You actually beat in the Charleston. Classic is back with blinkers on. So I think there’s a lot of speed in here.
Hopefully a bell Harbor breaks a lot better than he did last time. Joe Bravo. Uh, I think we talked last time too, on the dirt here at Monmouth, I would say Bravo moves the whole horse up like a half a length on the turf. He moved the horse up. I would say a full length. He just knows I’m with park, like the back of his hand at any big race, you want to have Joe Bravo on your ticket.
And the six words, the noddies, probably a horse that I want to use to a closer in a race that I think might set up for a closer last year in the mama’s cup, he ran a one Oh two buyer on Haskell day, which is the best player he’s ever run. So bell Harbor and the naughty for me in the Eastland. Naughty, of course, uh, our friends at the 10th strike race.
It’s always good to see them represented. Let’s go on to the featured race of the day. It is the grade one United nations, uh, full and interesting field. Turn up here. Who’s going to win it. Do you thing. So I’m hoping that, uh, the one horses do quite well in the stakes races on Saturday. Cause I’m going with bigger picture here.
Um, this is actually, it’s an interesting horse. I was looking at this race and, you know, personally, I, I love the longer turf races to Tibet there they’re just races that I enjoy playing. So I’ve probably bet, you know, 20 races that bigger picture is. They didn’t because he runs in these mile and three eighth mile and a half, you know, graded stakes races.
And once you, you know, you bet either on or against the horse, a number of times, you kind of think you have them kind of figure it out. And, and for, for whatever, I’ve kind of pegged bigger picture as like a great two ish rates, three it’s kind of horse. Not really. Like that grade one, you know, he runs into when he runs in the store dancer and the man of war and going up against those Chad Brown, just brutes, you know, he’s maybe like a half, half step slower, but he can win, you know, the grade two grade three races that kind of started with that premise.
This obviously being a great one. But then you look through the field and the PPS, and weirdly enough, other than the three horse Raja who won a group, a couple of group race group, one races in Brazil to her picture is actually the only grade one winner in this field. He won the United nations in 2017.
He gets Bravo board again, Brava was a board in 2017 when he won the UN, as I said, I truly think Brava moves a horse up, a full length on the parked park. Of course he knows every. Inch of that course when to make a move, when not to the ride he put on Almanar the last couple of times we talked in the mama States to make an early move, to get them position that was just beautifully done.
Um, you can’t not have Bravo on any tickets you do? Uh, I think bigger picture likes kind of a softer turf course. It looks like when he runs on those groups, they’ll stream like rock hard from courses he doesn’t do as well. He won last time. Attic team went over, yielding going it’s. I’m not going to say it’s going to be yielding here at Monmouth on Saturday, but we’ve got a ton of rain so far this week.
It’s supposed to rain again tonight. Uh, our, our turf course drains incredibly quickly. I think it’s probably going to be good to from come Saturday, but it’s not going to be that middle of August hundred degree every day. Rock hard from turf course. So I think bigger picture is going to appreciate that.
The rail draw and Bravo is going to have them in an absolute, perfect position. And with the likes of, you know, Chad Brown, bill Mott, Mike maker has to, when he, I think he might get a decent price on bigger picture as well. Maybe in that three, four to one, you know, nine to two range. One of my big takeaways from that bride is that Frankie Dettori is to Royal ask it as Joe Bravo is commandment.
And I’m going to guess, you’d say that’s a fair comparison. Uh, I think, yeah, I think just jockeys, you know, whether it’s, you know, Bravo is written here for, you know, many, many, many years, so it’s familiarity, it’s confidence, it’s all of those things. And I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, Bravo, when it goes into the Pegasus stakes last, last week and beats maximum security, they’re the two riots he put in the turf stakes races on our first bundle.
They say Memorial day, weekend Almanar then there was a Philly for Chad Brown. Rita’s weave through traffic. He just pulls out these trips that other jockeys here wouldn’t be able to do. And it’s because of I’m sure a combination of familiarity and confidence that he just, every position on the turf course here he’s been in.
He knows what to do when to make a move. When not to. He’s just the absolute man here. Okay. Physical nature of what you’re describing really strikes me. That makes me think back to the queen Mary yesterday with the Tories ride that, uh, that just got Kamari beat, you know, time. Angle thinks three through, from a game theory perspective, he knew that testing Kamari early was the only way that maybe he was going to be able to outstay at the end.
I mean, you’ve watched a lot of races in the USA. John Velasquez has written plenty at Monmouth over the years. Very rare to see him loose in a tight finish. He’s so good. But the Tori with that extra tactical edge got the better of him yesterday. And those are the kinds of things. When we talk about horses for courses all the time, there can also be riders for courses, and it’s just guys were playing the game at another level.
And I love, uh, I love what you brought into it about competence too. When you’re riding with confidence, you’re, you’re, you’re riding the wind and I do want to follow up with you about. Uh, the Pegasus from last weekend, but I’m going to put a pin in that because we have another stakes race to discuss first.
It’s the lady secret steaks. It goes as Reece number 12 on Saturday at Monmouth Brian, who is going to be your select. So to me, this is the most wide open of the stakes that we have. This is our second to last race of the day. It’s part of the late tick five, which was a great sequence. The, uh, the two previous races we talked about are all part of the late pick five.
This, this lady secret to me is totally wide open. Um, I’ll probably take a stand and maybe the UN and the inland, which we talked about earlier, the lady secrets that spread race for me for a top horse, I probably land on the three pink sands shipping in for sure, Jose or T as a board, the blinkers go on for her.
First try and round two turns I thought, or two wins down at Goldstream. This off season were very impressive. Visually. Now they were ones for in races. This is obviously a two turn race. They were teased with the board for those two races that Gulf stream he’s back a board on Saturday. So he obviously has that familiarity with her, a very interesting race, tough to see really where the pace is going to come from.
Um, coffee crushes. The horse has been in front in a lot of her races, but all of those have been on turf. So is that going to transfer to the, to the dirt? Uh, a very interesting race, uh, gonna look for a price in here. Probably whoever winds up the saver is probably not going to be where I go, because I just think everyone is so evenly matched that, you know, why, why take a horse is going to be the two to one favorite?
When you can take a horse who’s five or six to one third or fourth choice when they have very even chances of winning. But if you made me make one tickets, probably pink fans, but I could probably use. You know, three, four or five horses in here in the late pixel or pick five and that’s fair. You know, it’s a, it’s an honest assessment.
We can’t always get stuck into like one selection that now I think you’re giving. Have you, that’s you just the horse players. And it’s a good example of how we should think about these races sometime. And certainly from an exotic point of view, a few to throw in the spread is a very useful thing for horse players.
So we appreciate that before I let you go. I want to return to the Pegasus and back to the securities efforts. What was your take on the run, Brian? And what do you think we’re going to see next from this court? Yeah. So I, I have, uh, a few opinions that are strictly Brian Skurka opinions. This is me as a, horseplayer just talking on, on what I see.
Um, and I just, it, him losing that race struck like a pet peeve in me of, I hate the way that our culture is where, you know, he goes from this horse who finished first and every race that he ever ran and everyone is saying how good he is and et cetera, et cetera, deservedly. So. And now he loses what was, uncategorically a prep race.
And everyone is, you know, look, this proves that he was no good and he should have been disqualified. Like that’s just garbage. Like there’s no rule that says you have to win every single race that you run in their goal. This was a prep race. Their goal is to win the Haskell. Uh, I would not be surprised at all if he wins the Haskell.
And actually this was for me personally, this was a race that. I feel better about him in defeat than I did before the race. I was never the biggest fan from a handicapping standpoint. Um, that goes back to the Florida Derby. I was dead wrong and that goes back to the Kentucky Derby. I was dead wrong. Um, but I thought for a horse that was using this rape race as a prep to get to the Haskell, I thought he ran his eyeballs out.
He stumbled at the gate. He dealt with with pressure from the eventual winner, the entire race, you probably could have won the race. If the post positions were switched and King for a day was on the inside. I thought he ran incredibly well. And I think there’s a very, very good chance that he shows up into the, in the paddock for the Haskell looking like an absolute bull and he wins by five lengths and no one will ever remember that he lost the Pegasus.
Well, that’s a really interesting analysis and I definitely have a lot of. Sympathy for the point of view. And I do agree that our culture is, you know, too quick, too annoyed superstars, too quick. We want to tear them down. I don’t think that it’s a healthy thing for the game at all. The pers uh, the, the, like the pursuit of perfection at the expense of everything else.
I mean, look, it’s great. It’s amazing to see the forces be undefeated and all that, but it’s for racing fans, it’s better to see our horses race. And take chances. And if some of them don’t work out, I don’t think it diminishes, it shouldn’t diminish the stellar accomplishments that it can possibly enable them to achieve.
How big of a of, I only watched it, the one to be honest, I haven’t even gone back and looked at the replab and you know, over here it wasn’t a race I was covering on sky. Unfortunately side doesn’t have a deal with, with mama, for simulcasts, how bad was stumble, you know? Cause not all stumbles are created equal.
It w it was a stumble. It was big enough that it, I don’t know if it was or was not there. It should have been noted in the running line and the chart. It wasn’t insignificant, but it wasn’t, you know, he was, you figured he was going to be in front in the race, you know, with a clean break. He did have a stumble.
He was in front after, you know, two or three strides. So it wasn’t something where like Sai has really had the gun on him after the stumble to get to the league. You know, it, it may be a cost them a quarter of a length. Would he have won the race without the stumble? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think it was enough to, you know, make an excuse that he lost because of the stumble.
I just think it was a flat-out preparation and there’s nothing wrong with. Using a race as a stepping stone to a bigger prize. In my opinion, like I said, there’s nothing that says you have to go out there and be 120% and win every single race that you run in. I’m sure they would have loved to win the Pegasus, but if he goes out and wins the Haskell and then wins the Travers, the only narrative that’s going to be out there is how he’s a locked, the win three-year-old at a year.
And no one is ever going to remember that he finished second in the ticket. Do you think that will be the plan? I mean, I think obviously he looks. Extremely dangerous in a race like the Haskell, but I’ve said over the years on this show, now I know there’s another weekend between this year, but I’ve talked about how those two tests, the Haskell and the trappers are just so different.
Uh, that it’s it’s it’s, uh, in my mind, I’m not going to say it’s an impossible double it’s certainly been done point given. Coming to mind, but it’s such a difficult double, I don’t know that you’d be suited to the Travers. I love him for the Haskell. Do you think that is the plan though, to try to make that double for what it would mean in terms of the three-year-old championship?
I was almost thinking Haskell Pennsylvania Durban. Yeah. I, I don’t think I, obviously this is pure speculation and I have no information. I, you know, My guess would be that their, their eyes are solely set on the Haskell at this point. And then depending on what happens there, they’ll pick a game plan. It’s either, you know, either the Travers or the Pennsylvania Derby.
I don’t think that they’ve, they have a plan throughout the year. I would probably say a task skull, one of the Pennsylvania Derby or Travers, and then the breeders’ cup at the end of the year. Um, I kind of agree with you. It it’s, it’s tough. And it’s the proof is in the pudding of, you know, a horse going from the Haskell to the Travers.
They’re just two very different races. Um, but I, I haven’t heard anything from the connections that they have a firm game plan yet. I, I just think there’s still, their sites are solely set, um, on the Haskell and then they’ll go from there. Yeah. I could see it happening because I do think that three-year-old of the year, obviously up progress.
But one other thing I’ll say about some of the negativity, look, you know, everybody knows me. I’m not a pro negativity guy, but I will say this it’s a little cheeky. But I will say this. I think some of the backlash has to do with, uh, maybe, uh, some of the, not so sporting comments of the Colts owner that people may be blowing back and overreacting in some of the negativity to the Pegasus run.
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Mr. West may have brought some of this upon himself. Yeah. I, I, I, especially in the culture that we live in, like, like you said earlier, people love to, uh, Yeah. They, they love to try to, um, you know, tear people or horses or champions or whatever down, you know, the first, the first chance that they get to, you know, attack someone or something, they take it.
So, um, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case at all, but it’s just, it’s just, it’s kinda just sad, you know, I, I get why people. Do that. And I get why, you know, especially on like social media and these things, people can take some joy out of it cause they don’t actually have to do it to somebody’s face.
But it’s just kinda, it just kind of say, why, why do we have to after a half length loss or whatever it was. And the Pegasus now say that, you know, this horse is suddenly no good. And he, he, to me, he lost absolutely nothing. He’s still right there for three-year-old of the year. And like I said, if he, if he wins the Haskell, no one is ever going to remember the Pegasus.
Brian. I love these visits. I thank you so much for your time today. And I hope we get to talk again soon. I hope that as well, enjoy Ascot. All right. And that’s going to do it for this truncated edition of the, in the money players podcast. I want to thank Brian Skurka I’ll thank K. And essentially, especially because he’ll be doing his own show under the NY reset.
Banner this week. He may well want to talk about some of those Manav races again, we’ll see what he decides to do. But before we get out of here, I want to make another announcement. I talked a little while ago about the ever-growing in the money podcast, your family. Well, we’ve got a new edition folks because on Tuesday, June 18th, Hazel, Columbus foreman.
Came into the world. And I definitely wanted to acknowledge that and give you the lowdown about this latest member of the family. Six pounds. Nine ounce, 19 inches and a one Oh four LP for Hazel Columbus foreman. The family is doing great Tiana and Sean educate you on this fabulous news. And with that, we’re going to end this edition of the show.
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