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

by Dan Gonella

Racing returns to Del Mar; the same will be said about racing in Saratoga Springs next weekend. For those of you not spending your weekend in Del Mar, there is no better place to be than the Jersey Shore, so lets dive in and take a look at this card for Friday July 16th at Monmouth Park. Best of luck this weekend!

Race 1:

1st: #3 D’Marin (6-1)

2nd: #2 Dancing Lion (5-2)

3rd: #5 North Ocean (9-5)

We start today’s card with a $10,000 claiming race that will be run at one and one sixteenth miles. In this contest, I am going to side with #3 D’marin. D’marin looks to improve in his second start off the layoff as he drops in class and receives a positive jockey change to Trevor McCarthy. He has done his best running over the Monmouth track, and he projects to run much better over his favored surface following a nice freshening on July 5th. #2, Dancing Lion stretches out to a route in the second start off of a long layoff, and his first in a new barn that excels in the first start off the claim. The last start came on almost a seven month layoff for a barn that wins only 7% of races when off 180 days or more, so it is likely that he wasn’t fully tuned up and ready to go; expect him to be ready to fire in this spot for a tandem that has won 38% of their starts at this meet. However, note that he has not won a race on a fast track in 17 starts. #5 North Ocean will look to wire the field here with apprentice Nik Juarez aboard for the second start in the Jane Cibelli barn. North Ocean broke okay, but was steadied and not able to make the lead in his last start; he seems to need the lead and he should get back to better form as he projects to set the pace here. I’m hoping that North Ocean is pressured by Dancing Lion and or Sublime Twist, as both are stretching out from a sprint to a distance where they have shown some speed, otherwise North Ocean may walk over this field.

Race 2:

1st: #3 Colonel Jordan (3-1)

2nd: #9 Eight Cents (9-5)

3rd: #8 Diacetto (4-1)

I had a hard time reading this race, as it is not comprised of the strongest of fields, but I’ll go with my gut and take #3 Colonel Jordan for Orlando Bocachica and Jorge Navarro. I’ll excuse his last race since he broke slow and chased the pace while running five wide in the slop. If he can overcome his history of gate trouble, and I have a feeling he will, he should be a little closer to the pace and he should loom a large threat in here. Although I can’t bet him to win, there is no reason that #9 Eight Cents shouldn’t have every chance to run his race against this field. This is the weakest field he has faced since breaking his maiden, but I’m under the impression he just doesn’t like to win. He may feel a little pressure on the lead from #1 and #4, which may hinder his chances to enter the winner’s circle#8 Diacetto faces winners for the first time for Claudio Gonzalez and Trevor McCarthy. He has shown that he has some closing kick which would set him up nicely in this field if there is at least a moderate pace.

Race 3:

1st: #7 Silverado Star (3-1)

2nd: #2 Entertainer (5-2)

3rd: #1 Guaranteed (20-1)

If I were giving you a multi-race ticket I would just tell you to hit the all button and hope for the longest price, that’s how tough this race looks to me on paper. However, I’ll go to the outside with #7, Silverado Star for Paco Lopez and Eddie Plesa. This is a race filled with sharp connections, but seeing Paco take his talents to this Plesa runner give me confidence that he can run. The connections paid $110,000 for this colt, whose sire stands for $3,500, after only three horses ran faster than his 10 second breeze at the 2015 April OBS sale. Seeing Paco take the mount for this one makes me even more confident that he can run. Plesa can win early, as he wins 22% of two year old races, but even more impressive is that he wins 33% of those starts when Paco is aboard. Plesa only wins 16% of those two year old races without Paco riding for him, so these stats are going to make me lean against the other Plesa runner, Full Salute. Another one who should be ready to run is #2, Entertainer for Wayne Catalano and Abel Castellano jr. Entertainer, a $275,000 purchase, has been training nicely for a trainer who has won 50% of his starts at Monmouth this year. Catalano, who wins 20% of races at first asking and 27% of two year old starts, was three for four in two year old races last year at Monmouth. Another horse that I expect to run well is #1, Guaranteed for Russell Cash and Jose Ferrer. In eleven maiden special weight starts, Russell Cash has three wins (27%) for an R.O.I of $10.73. Guaranteed has been training very well and looks to be a nice price from the rail.

Race 4:

1st: #8 Ready Now (6-1)

2nd: #7 Phantom Ghost (6-1)

3rd: #5 Caroline’s Spirit (3-1)

Race 4 offers what should be another maiden race with some betting value as we hit the turf for the first time this afternoon. Although I could make a solid case for a lot of these horses, I am going to side with #8, Ready Now for Pablo Fragoso and Jorge Duarte Jr. Ready Now’s trainer will be looking for his first winner as he takes this over the training services for Alan Goldberg, one of the best turf trainers in the area. Duarte, once a top apprentice jockey at Monmouth, got his first career riding victory for Goldberg and now, after working in Goldberg’s barn, he sends out a nice filly who is taking a large drop in class here. She was last seen in her first start off of a long layoff where she got beat by a very nice Chad Brown filly who came back to win easy in an allowance on United Nations day. Ready Now was bet that day, making me think that the connections felt she was live, and she ended up running a solid race before tiring; she should be ready to go after the freshener and the drop in class. My second choice, right to Ready Now’s inside is #7, Phantom Ghost for Joe Orseno and Wilmar Garcia. This filly drops in class from the special weight ranks while stretching out and trying the turf for the first time. Last out she was well beaten by a Todd Pletcher runner who was purchased for $750,000 as well as a runner for Chuck Spina who has won two in a row, including a freak effort in a jersey bred allowance on United Nations day. Phantom Ghost galloped out okay and has some solid turf pedigree with Ghostzapper as her sire; Ghostzapper is 20% with turf runners over the past five years so she should appreciate two turns and the turf. Although not in my top three selections, #1 Forobviousreasons also comes out of the same race as Phantom Ghost, don’t be surprised to see an improved effort out of that filly either. A runner you must respect is #5, Caroline’s Spirit for Paco Lopez and Mark Henning. Also by Ghostzapper, Caroline definitely took to the turf route as she ran a respectable race and put up her best career beyer speed figure; look for some more improvement out of her as Lopez retains the mount.

Race 5:

1st: #2 El Chivo Viejo (3-1)

2nd: #1A Master of Humor (5-2)

3rd: #7 Lubango (6-1)

This $6,000 open claimer looks to be another race that will offer solid betting value on this card. I see two scenarios: #2 El Chivo Viejo gets an easy lead and pummels this field or the #2 gets pressured by the #3 and the #7 which allows one of many closers, likely #1A Master of Humor, to pick up the pieces. In their most recent starts, the #2 and the #7 were not able to get the lead and I am not sure they will want to battle with El Chivo Viejo, so I will take him as my top pick here. The #1A Master of Humor loves this distance and has been improving since leaving Gulfstream Park; he looks to be in the best form of the horses I anticipate to come from off of the pace. In a race such as this, it is hard to ignore the toughness shown by #7 Lubango. Lubango is one of those runners that always seems to try his heart out, look no further for evidence than his record of 9 wins, 11 seconds and 10 thirds in 58 starts. I’m not sure what happened last start, but he should rebound and he will likely sit right off of El Chivo Viejo. He looks to be hard to pass in the lane even if this field has a healthy amount of closers.

Race 6:

1st: #4 Blue Eyed Babe (5-2)

2nd: # 1 Jademarie (2-1)

3rd: # 7 Wonforthemoneyhon (3-1)

Race 6 looks to be one of the few chalky races on the card as we get back to the turf course for another route race. In this spot I’m siding with the horse that fits this condition best, #4 Blue Eyed Babe for Trevor McCarthy and Kathleen O’Connell. As a three year old, Blue Eyed Babe is the only multiple race winner to draw into this field as she takes a large drop in class from the allowance ranks to this non winners of two life time claiming race. Blue Eyed Babe was not even ridden once she reached the quarter pole in her last race, the drop in class and the move back to Trevor McCarthy should help get her into the winner’s circle here. Her biggest threat should be #1 Jademarie for Paco Lopez and Eddie Plesa. Jademarie also drops in class and her past turf races would beat just about all of this field on most days. #7 Wonforthemoneyhon should run well after trainer Jorge Navarro takes the blinkers off and gives this filly a little rest. She has faced better in just about all of her turf starts, but she may have her hands full with Blue Eyed Babe and Jademarie.

Race 7:

1st: #1 Banana Anna (9-2)

2nd: #2 Lizzie Queen (7-2)

3rd: #7 Hazy Daisy (8-1)

Of the horses that have prior racing experience, #s 3,4,7 and 8 have all shown speed. While I assume that all four horses won’t go to the lead, I am still going to try to find the winner outside of those four horses. I landed on #1 Banana Anna for Danny Lopez and Angel Serpa. Lopez is known for having his first time starters ready, if the barn thinks he is live he will likely be bet down from his 9-2 morning line. Angel Serpa is aboard for this filly by millionaire and graded stakes winning Kodiak Kid; Serpa and Lopez win at a 32% rate with a nice ROI. I expect a better effort second time out for #2 Lizzie Queen. Lizzie is one of five horses with racing experience and she made a bit of a move in the stretch last out, she was also hardly ridden at all throughout the race. Hopefully she can be closer than she was in her last start; she will be the play for me if Banana Anna doesn’t get bet much. For third I’ll take #7 Hazy Daisy for Patti Farro and Ramon Moya. If anyone deserves an excuse, I’ll give it to this one as it is possible that she didn’t like the footing on the wet-fast track last out. I think she is the most likely to want to take back from prior speed tactics; she really didn’t run all that bad first out for a barn that struggles greatly with first time starters, so toss the last race and she looks to be competitive here.

Race 8:

1st: #5 Royal Carrier (7-2)

2nd: #1 Palace Gate (5-2)

3rd: #8 My Jersey Boy (6-1)

We seem to have what should be another competitive turf route race here as we will see a $20,000 claiming race for three year olds or four year olds and upward which have never won two races. Palace Gate, your likely favorite, should be back on the lead as apprentice Nik Juarez is given the mount for Marcus Vitali. Palace Gate may not face any serious threats on the lead outside of a longshot in the #3 horse however, I have been burned by Palace Gate twice and I will side with #5 Royal Carrier for Claudio Gonzalez and Wilmar Garcia. Royal Carrier fits the condition here because he is a three year old, so he can enter this race with any number of wins; it happens that he is the only horse to win multiple races in this field. Along with that, he has quality turf form against better foes, so I like his chances here for a duo a solid trainer jockey combo. Expect another solid effort out of #8 My Jersey Boy for Angel Serpa and Skip Einhorn. My Jersey Boy drops in class and gets back to the turf where he had put together back to back solid turf races before trying the dirt. Like Royal Carrier, My Jersey Boy projects to be coming from off of the pace; their chances will be greatly increased if Palace Gate is either pressured or not given the lead.

Race 9:

1st: #5 Thirteen Arrows (9-5)

2nd: #3 Discreetly Elusive (5-2)

3rd: #1 Printasticat (6-1)

In today’s feature we are scheduled to see a nice field go six furlongs in a $30,000 optional claiming event. It appears that a lot of speed in this race has drawn into this race with the #s 2,4,6 and possibly 7 wanting the lead. With that being said, I will side with a horse who should sit a nice trip right off the leaders, that being #5 Thirteen Arrows. Thirteen Arrows makes her first start since last August, but she returns for Larry Jones who wins 40% of races with a layoff greater than 180 days. Over the last five years, Larry Jones has won 44% of races in which he has shipped in to Monmouth Park; combine those stats with some solid workouts and it makes sense to think that this filly would be very live coming into this race. Making the journey to Monmouth for this race is Thirteen Arrows’ jockey Kerwin Clark; Clark is making a long trip for just one mount, so I’m sure he is expecting a solid paycheck following this race. Another two horses who project to sit a nice similar trip are #3 Discreetly Elusive and #1 Printasticat. Discreetly Elusive has not won a race since running here last June, but she has run many respectable races against real quality fields in both Florida and New York; expect her to do some quality running late. #1 Printasticat is the crafty veteran of this field with 11 wins in 48 starts. She has had some success over the Monmouth track and she seems to fire almost every time out. Printasticat should sit a similar trip to Thirteen Arrows as they will likely track the leaders; expect her to fight for some rewards.

Race 10:

1st: #2 Jojo’s Gal (7-2)

2nd: #11 Weather Permitting (4-1)

3rd: #12 Honorable Love (30-1) or #1 Betterthanaverage (10-1)

We will finish the Friday card going around two turns in a $5,000 beaten claiming race. In a field that appears to have very little speed, I’ll take the one horse that I know is definitely going to the lead, #2 Jojo’s Gal. With apprentice Javier Felix Jr. aboard, this filly went wire to wire in one of her best career efforts. Both wins have been at this distance, and I expect her to win again today as she easily ran the best last race of this field. I’ll use #11 Weather Permitting in here for Daniel Centeno and John Pimental. I find it interesting that Centeno is sticking around for this last cheap race, most jockeys with his type of success wouldn’t have to stick around for a cheap race like this unless they thought they have a good chance of getting paid. Weather Permitting has run in the money in all of her last three starts while putting up speed figures that are better than most of this field; she appears the likeliest closer to me. If she stays in this race, I’ll give #12 Honorable Love a shot to run better as she stretches out. In two of her three starts here she had two legitimate excuses, I think she should show some improvement if she can get a clean trip, plus she will be a bomb in a field where anything could happen. It is interesting to note that she is also entered for a six furlong $18,000 non-winners of two lifetime race on Sunday at Monmouth at a morning line of 20-1 against a much tougher field. If she scratches, I would use #1 Betterthanaverage underneath hoping that she can return to form from her route races last year at Monmouth and Parx; she should offer some value as well.

Dan Gonella is a 19 year old accounting major at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. When he is not playing baseball or stuck in the bunker at Lakewood Country Club, Dan, a resident of Point Pleasant, NJ, spends his summer weekends at Monmouth Park. Dan was introduced to horse racing by his parents who had owned numerous thoroughbreds up until the early 2000s. An aspiring horse player, Dan hopes to own some horses of his own someday. If you are ever at Monmouth Park and see a kid looking embarrassed because his dad is screaming something like “I got everybody’s money!” make sure to say hi, because it is likely Dan.