by Jo Talbot

Jo gave out picks for three races yesterday.  At Pimlico, her selections comprised the $26 exacta.  At Monmouth, well, not so much, as the race, run in the slop, scratched down to five, with chalk Buffum finishing last and Big Sur leading gate to wire and paying $20.  And at Charles Town in the Fancy Buckles, her top three selections were the top three finishers — but it was another race that had scratched down to five, and the exacta paid all of nine bucks and change.  Still… well, for today, she turns her attention to an all-stakes double at Monmouth.

For today’s feature races we’ll try to hit the daily double in the two stakes races at Monmouth Park.  The tenth race is the Monmouth Beach stakes, a mile and 70 yards on the dirt for fillies and mares three years old and up.  Although a compact field of six, it is a competitive race, with the morning line favorite at 5-2 and the longest shot in the field at 6-1.

My top selection is Cash for Clunkers, a five year old mare and 3-1 in the morning line.  She sports a record of four wins in nine outings, with two second place finishes and a third to her name.  The horse’s best speed figures tower over the field.  She garnered three 92+ Beyers in the spring of 2012, including a second place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps stakes at Belmont.  Her last two outings were terrible, as she was outclassed by Eclipse winner Royal Delta in both in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap last July and the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational in September, hitting the gate in the latter for good measure.  She has not raced since and her trainer, Richard Violette, does not have a great record with horses coming off a layoff.  That said, Cash for Clunkers has posted solid workouts as prep for her 2013 debut and her front running style should suit her well in this field.  If she gets a clean break, I expect her to control the pace and lead from gate to wire.


My second selection is Clarinda, the 5-2 morning line favorite.  She’s a four year old filly trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Joe Bravo.  This combination has won at a 30% clip with a positive ROI of $2.03.  Clarinda also boasts the best last speed figure in the race.  Winiliscious, a four year old filly at 6-1, rounds out my trifecta.  She is five for six at Monmouth Park and has never been out of the money in four tries at today’s distance.  Final Escrow, a lightly raced four year old who has hit the board in all eight of her starts, completes my superfecta.

The eleventh race is the Ms. Liberty stakes, 1 1/16 mile stakes on the turf for fillies and mares three years old and up.  The race has attracted a full field of eleven runners on the turf.  The favorite at 3-1 is Ruthenia, a five year old mare and the only graded stakes winner in the field. That victory was in Monmouth’s Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap last year, a race run at the same distance as today’s Ms. Liberty.  Ruthenia has tactical speed which should serve her well as I expect Baffle Me, Angel’s South and perhaps Magical Cat will vie for the early lead.  Her last five outings have been in graded stakes company, and this drop in class will provide her some relief.  She is the most logical contender for win honors.

My second selection is Baffle Me, lined at 9-2 and coming off a victory in a third level allowance at Gulfstream Park.  She sports the best last speed figure in the field, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she bounced a bit in this outing. Previously ridden by Joel Rosario, the hottest rider in the country, she picks up new rider Elvis Trujillo for the first time.  Third and fourth places are wide open and several could round out the exotics. I’ll take a shot with Namaskara, at 8-1, whose last outing on the turf resulted in a win at a second level allowance in Gulfstream in February, and Street Secret, at 7-2, who notched a win at the same class and track in March.

If the Ms. Liberty comes off the turf, Idle Talk at 20-1 is the only horse with established form on a wet track, where she is three for six with two second place finishes.  If the race moves to the main track, the bettors will probably send her off at less than 20-1.  While I expect her to be in the mix, there are several horses with high Tomlinson ratings on a wet track which have never been tested.  I’d be inclined to take a shot with Street Secret or Namaskara in the top slot, and slide Idle Talk underneath for the exacta.

If you’re inclined to play the Daily Double, my play is Cash for Clunkers and Clarinda with Ruthenia and Baffle Me.  If the Ms. Liberty comes off the turf, my Daily Double is Cash for Clunkers and Clarinda with Street Secret and Namaskara.

Post time for the 10th race is 5:29.  Good luck!