The Racing Biz is pleased to welcome Shore Bets and 19-year-old John Piassek into the fold.  John will provide weekly full-card handicapping of Monmouth Park.

by John Piassek

12 races are part of the Saturday Monmouth card, headlined by the $100,000 Long Branch Stakes. That race should produce a Haskell runner. It’s also PDJF day, full of fund-raisers to help out disabled jockeys. It’s “shore” to be another fun day of racing on the Jersey shore.

Race 1: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, Fillies, 5 1/2 Furlongs

The only horse in here to have run at any point, ever, is the 2, Dance N Denae. She was uninspiring in two career starts, so it’s more than likely that a first-timer will win this race. I will go the rather obvious route, and select the 6, Earned. She’s being ridden by Abel Castellano, who is having a strong season, and is trained by the always-dangerous Todd Pletcher. She turned in a good 4 furlong workout at Saratoga on July 4, going in :48.0. That’s the fastest time anyone in the field has gone at that distance, and I expect that she’ll be the fastest one around the track.

The 1, Out of Nowhere, has turned in good 3 furlong bullets in preparation for this race. However, trainer Russell Cash is 0-23 on the meet and is a mere 2-24 with first time starters in recent times. Proceed with caution there. The 3, Thatta Boy Girl, enters this one for the top trainer Jorge Navarro, and is also working well in preparation for this spot.

6- Earned (3/2)

3- Thatta Boy Girl (7/2)

1- Out of Nowhere (12/1)

Race 2: Claiming $7,500 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile 70 Yards

While breaking her maiden in her last race, the 7, Momma’s Favorite, got an uncontested lead and drew away. I think something similar will happen here. Nobody else in the field has shown the amount of speed required to run with her early on, so there’s an excellent chance that she’ll just cruise to the front and not look back.

When it comes to the horses who will finish behind her, the options are numerous. The 1, Porcia, won her last dirt start easily while rating off the lead. If Momma’s Favorite melts down for some reason, she could be the first to take advantage of that. The 4, Trapise in Utopia, chased a clear leader to finish five lengths of her next rival last out.

7- Momma’s Favorite (4/1)

1- Porica (7/2)

4- Trapise in Utopia (4/1)

Race 3: Claiming $7,500, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile

I’ll take the steadily improving filly in here–the 5, Harlington Romance. Last out, at Parx, she earned a figure of 90, achieved while moving up onto a very fast pace. She drew off to a lead of up to four lengths, before having the margin cut to 1 1/4 lengths. Even so, that figure is much, much better, than anyone else has earned in recent times. She can go to the early lead and claim it if she wants, or take back off the lead. Either way, she’s got a good shot at winning this one.

The 4, Idontknowgoaskanni, has the best late speed in the field, and drew away from her rivals to win gate-to-wire last out. She’s a must-use in any multi-race bets. The 6, Chippette, has earned good figures sprinting, and hopes to improve her speed to routes.

5- Harlington Romance (7/5)

4- Idontknowgoaskanni (5/2)

6- Chippette (9/2)

Race 4: Claiming $16,000, 3yo and up, 5 1/2 Furlongs (Grass)

Two horses jump out in terms of figures. The 4, Dedicated to Bob, has earned an 85, 88, and 87 in his last three. The 7, Didn’t Take It, earned an 88, 89, and 90. Already, Didn’t Take It has a slight edge over Dedicated to Bob, and it becomes more apparent when you look at their running styles. Didn’t Take It tends to rate off the pace, then use his field-best late kick to get by. That’s what he’s done in two out of his last three starts, and it puts him in sharp contrast with Dedicated to Bob. I will take Didn’t Take It in here.

7- Didn’t Take It (9/5)

4- Dedicated to Bob (2/1)

6- Starship Wildcat (5/2)

Race 5: Maiden Claiming $30,000, 2yo, Fillies, 5 Furlongs

These types of races are always difficult to dissect. Usually, the horses with experience in a maiden claiming race like this aren’t that good. And if owners thought that their horse was that good, they probably wouldn’t start them off in a $30,000 maiden claiming race. However, somebody has to win this race, so here I go.

My pick will be the 2, Candystand. I know that she was dull in her lone career race, and now she’s dropping in for a tag. However, since that race, she’s been working well, suggesting that she might be rounding into good form. Besides, you don’t exactly have to be a world-beater to win a race like this, and it’s definitely possible that she’ll improve a lot in her second start.

The 6, Queen Fiddle, had to check in her first race, costing her precious ground. With a cleaner trip here, she should improve. The 3, Habits Lady, is trained by Rudy Rodriguez, who hits at a respectable 17% with first time starters.

2- Candystand (3/1)

6- Queen Fiddle (6/1)

3- Habits Lady (6/1)

Race 6: Maiden Special Weight, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

I’ll take the 3, Heart of Midway. In her last effort, at Churchill Downs, she set a blazing pace on the lead. She set a :22.4 quarter and a :46.2 half, yet held on almost the whole way and missed by only four lengths. She earned a figure of 83 in that race, the best that anyone in the field has done. Now, she’s facing a weaker field than last time, and should get an easier lead. Those are both tools to a “shore” win.

The 2, Victory Square, earned an 82 in her last race at Gulfstream, doing so with a strong closing rally. If she gets a pace to run at, watch out. The same holds true for the 7, Biamonte.

3- Heart of Midway (7/2)

2- Victory Square (6/1)

7- Biamonte (8/1)

Race 7: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w1x), 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs

The 4, Fuzzy Muzzle, is my pick to begin the Jersey Shore 6. He’s got some of the best figures in the race, running a 92, 88, and 91 in his last three. However, his chief virtue is his lack of early speed, in a race that’s full of it. If the pace melts down, he’ll just storm on by the leaders and draw off to an easy victory. He’s also making his second start off the long layoff, meaning that he can very easily improve off that effort.

The 6, Delta Bluesman, has good figures, but tired while on the pace last out. Breaking from the outside post and being in a race with a lot of early speed, that’s not a good sign. Hopefully for his backers, Orlando Bocachica will rate him inside of horses, off the pace. We’ll see what happens there. The 1A, Blings Express, also has a lot of speed, but has earned figures as high as a 96 in the past. He also had a terrific work on July 3 to prepare for this race, and trainer Claudio Gonzalez has been slowly heating up.

4- Fuzzy Muzzle (4/1)

6- Delta Bluesman (1/1)

1- Twelve Stones/1A- Blings Express (5/2)

Race 8: Claiming $12,500, 3yo and up, 1 Mile (Grass)

I will begin the late pick 5 with the 1, Lawyer Jim. He’s shipping in from Belmont, where he recently earned an 82 against NY-bred allowance company. That’s tied for the best last-out figure in the race. The other horse to do that is the 2, Abilio, who hasn’t raced on grass since October and possesses terrible late speed. Lawyer Jim, by contrast, has a relatively strong closing kick, so it’s likely that he’ll save ground on the rail, then roll by around the turn and win it.

The 5, Majestic Jess, won at this level last out, while cruising on the lead. However, he figures to get more pressure on the front end in this spot. The 9, Thunder Calls, ran well at Monmouth last year, but hasn’t run since December.

1- Lawyer Jim (7/2)

5- Majestic Jess (3/1)

9- Thunder Calls (5/2)

Race 9: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w1x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles

I’ll go with the 1, Ponzi Scheme. In his last race, on June 19 at this level, he was engaged in a fast-paced duel. He brushed off his rival and began to open up, before tiring out and being passed in the stretch. He still held on for a decent third, earning a best-in-field 93. Now, he has the most early speed, and the advantageous rail position. He’s the one to beat.

The 3, Top Clearance, broke his maiden sprinting, and now stretches out to a route here. His races at Churchill were dangerous; watch for him.

1- Ponzi Scheme (5/1)

3- Top Clearance (5/2)

4- Air Squadron (2/1)

Race 10: Claiming $12,500, 3yo and up, 1 Mile (Grass)

The 3, Nineinthenine, looks like a standout. His last three figures on the grass are 86, 87, and 86. No one else has done better than an 83 in their last three starts. I can forgive his last effort, as it was his first start off a long layoff, and it was washed off the grass. Even though it was a dismal performance, just having something under his belt can’t hurt. The fact that he’s a 10/1 morning line just makes it all the better. Usually, I wouldn’t go all in with both fists, given his lack of recent grass efforts, but at a price like that, you have to go for it.

3- Nineinthenine (10/1)

4- Sonofachub (10/1)

7- Azure Dragon (7/2)

Race 11: Long Branch Stakes, 3yo, 1 1/16 Miles

On paper, this is a two-horse affair. The 3, Stanford, broke his maiden over this track last year, and was most recently second in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont. The 6, Souper Colossal, won the Sapling last year, and is coming off an ill-fated grass experiment. I will lean toward the latter, even though his dirt figures are a few lengths slower. Those figures, however, were earned last year as a two-year-old. I have to imagine that he has improved at three, and that would put him at least on par with Stanford. When one considers that he’ll likely be a better price than Stanford, the decision as to who to bet becomes a no-brainer.

An interesting longshot, if one wants to go that route, may be the 4, Fortuitous Path. He earned an 89 in his last race while breaking his maiden sprinting. He can “shore”ly improve in this race.

6- Souper Colossal (8/5)

4- Fortuitous Path (5/1)

3- Stanford (7/5)

Race 12: Maiden Claiming $25,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

My get-out pick is the 3, Key d’Oro. Last time out, she narrowly missed at this level, winning by a half length. Her figure there was a 79, the best in the field by a lot. She’s also got the dangerous Vitali-Bocachica combination, which only enhances her case.

3- Key d’Oro (5/2)

8- Bella Yolanda (7/2)

7- Birch Creek Crazy (10/1)


John Piassek is a rising sophomore student at Loyola University Maryland, who has been going to Monmouth Park since before he could walk. Last year, he lived a dream by getting to call a live race at Monmouth.  Check out his “Monmouth Shore Things” blog for daily picks and recaps.