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

Twelve races greet us at Monmouth Park on Saturday. It’s not the best card of the season, for “shore”, but at least there are only 15 days until the Haskell!

Race 1: Claiming $10,000 (n/w3L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

I will begin the proceedings this afternoon with the 5, More Than Special. She may have been beaten by ten lengths in her last effort, but she still earned a solid brisnet figure of 76, while outrunning a few of her rivals in here. She’s also trained by the hot Marcus Vitali, and is the only one to run a figure as good as a 76 in recent times.

The 6, Stately Defence, is the other Vitali entrant, and turned in a lightning-fast three furlong workout a few days before this race. The 1, Shore Getaway, was third at this level last out.

5- More Than Special (9/5)

6- Stately Defence (3/2)

1- Shore Getaway (7/2)

Race 2: Claiming $12,500 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile

The 2, Sweet on Smokey, looks like the best in here. Her last three figures are 78, 72, and 83. That makes her the only one out of the bunch to run above a 70 in her last three races. Furthermore, she’s got good late speed, en”shore”ing that she’ll hang on late in the game, while the rest of the field starts to tire out. She’s the most likely one to round out the early double.

2- Sweet on Smokey (3/1)

3- Liberty Lady (4/1)

4- Ryabinka (6/1)

Race 3: Maiden Special Weight, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile 70 Yards

Most of the runners in here are either unproven on dirt, or stretching out to a route from a sprint. The only one in here proven in a dirt route is the 6, Kinsley. In her last dirt effort, back at Belmont in September, she ran a figure of 65. On the surface, that may look dismal, however, it’s the best that anyone in the field has done on dirt. She ran a 76 in the race before that, which would win this race very easily. That race in a grass sprint at Belmont last out should have gotten her into form for this one.

The 1, Lady Anita, has shown the most grass ability out of anyone in the field, and trainer Michelle Nevin hits at 24% with horses going grass-to-dirt. The 3, Delightful, comes from Shug’s barn, and has been working well to prepare for this spot.

6- Kinsley (5/2)

1- Lady Anita (2/1)

3- Delightful (4/1)

Race 4: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w1x), 3yo and up, 5 1/2 Furlongs (Grass)

I’ll take a horse who looks to be improving strongly: the 7, Pool Winner. His last two races have been dominating–winning back-to-back grass sprints, while earning a figure of 90 in his last race. He looks like a horse improving in a big way, and I expect another winning effort from him today.

The 3, Slamarama, ran well at the Gulfstream winter meet, but hasn’t raced since then. The 2, Drago’s Best, was dull at this level last out, but ran well prior to that race.

7- Pool Winner (5/2)

3- Slamarama (4/1)

2- Drago’s Best (9/2)

Race 5: Maiden Claiming $25,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile

My pick here is the 6, Strike Em Down. He’s stepping down into maiden claiming competition, and was doing well in maiden races prior to his dull last effort. His figures of 83 and 81 in those races before last out would blow this field away. Even the figure of 72 earned last out is the best in the field. He may be 0-14, but it’s not a great field, and he can definitely get the job done here.

If Strike Em Down goes down, the 1, Warrior’s Instinct, is the most likely winner. His two dirt races are among the best in the field. The 7, Star Actor, has been running three steadily improving races.

6- Strike Em Down (8/5)

1- Warrior’s Instinct (3/1)

7- Star Actor (5/2)

Race 6: Claiming $12,500 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles

In a race like this, it pays to have a horse with good form. Such is the situation with the 2, Mi Amore. He’s won his last two races here at Monmouth, earning figures of 77 and 78 in those two races. Furthermore, his running style has him rating off the pace, then drawing away and showing much more late speed than anyone else in the field. I would imagine that is what’s going to happen here, too. That’ll make it three wins in a row.

The 7, Gottcha Blessin, won his last race at this level easily, earning a best-in-field figure of 83. The 8, Video Mov, drops in claiming price, and is a strong contender for the exotic spots.

2- Mi Amore (5/2)

7- Gottcha Blessin (4/1)

8- Video Mov (7/2)

Race 7: Maiden Claiming $20,000, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

The Jersey Shore 6 begins with a horse who, from a figures standpoint, looks like a stand-out. The 5, Lucky Balladier, has earned a 74 and a 72 in his last two races. No other horse in the field is able to consistently pull off figures in that range. He’s also got a running style that would enable him to sit off of the leaders, then roll by them when asked.

5- Lucky Balladier (5/2)

8- Finito (10/1)

11- Beau Jangles (4/1)

Race 8: Maiden Special Weight, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, NJ-bred, 6 Furlongs

Before her last race, I said that it would be difficult for the 5, Fakery, to lose. As it turns out, she won that race, but was disqualified. Since that race, the horse she lost to two starts back, Bustin Out, dominated a field of n/w1x Jersey-bred allowance horses, verifying her class. Just like last time, Fakery’s figures are superior to the rest, and she also gets a jockey upgrade to Nik Juarez. Unless she gets disqualified again, she won’t be losing this one.

5- Fakery (3/2)

1- Golden Earrings (9/2)

6- Huachuca (6/1)

Race 9: Claiming $25,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

In her last race, the 1, Love That Kelly, was much the best. She was stuck in traffic the whole way around, had nowhere to go throughout, yet still made up ten lengths and missed by 3/4 of a length. She earned a figure of 80 for that effort. As long as she gets a clear trip, you have to figure that she’ll improve by a few points off that tough last race, which would put her in the winner’s circle.

The 4, Carey Princess, ran well this winter at Tampa, but hasn’t made a start since April. The 5, Very Playful, narrowly missed at this level in her last start.

1- Love That Kelly (7/2)

4- Carey Princess (5/1)

5- Very Playful (4/1)

Race 10: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 1 Mile 70 Yards

I’ll take the horse with the best recent route form, that being the 1, Dudeman. In his last race, at this level and distance, he was defeated by stakes winning Irish You Well. Even so, he earned a great figure of 94, with is compounded by two more figures above 90 in three of his last four. Nobody else in this field has pulled that off. He looks as if he should win as much the best.

The 4, Just Call Kenny, makes his first start at a route this year. He had shown good form routing last year, and hopes to recover that ability in this spot. Make “shore” to use him in multi-race bets, but he may be overbet in the win pools. The 7, Early Entry, is also stretching out, but had shown good late speed in all of his races. That indicates that he may enjoy the extra distance. We’ll see.

1- Dudeman (3/1)

4- Just Call Kenny (9/5)

7- Early Entry (10/1)

Race 11: Lamplighter Stakes, 3yo, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

This race is made interesting by the presence of not one, but two Mike Repole/Todd Pletcher entries. The 1, Nonna’s Boy, is coming off a third-place finish in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont. The 7, Dontbetwithbruno, finished fourth in the Pegasus in his most recent effort. It’s not a super-strong grass field, so it’s entirely possible that either one of these two can win. However, they’re almost guaranteed to be overbet, mostly because of name recognition. Because of that, I’ll pass.

Rather, I’ll go with the 5, Black Martino. In his last race, the King Cugat Stakes at Saratoga, he was flying at the wire, just missing by a neck. He earned a figure of 85 in that race, and has earned up to an 89 on the grass before. That would easily win this race.

Also one to consider is the 6, Weekend Express, who has similar grass form. However, none of his races have been as impressive visually as Black Martino.

5- Black Martino (5/1)

6- Weekend Express (7/2)

3- West Village (5/2)

Race 12: Maiden Claiming $10,000, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles

I’ll close the show with the 6, No Brody No. He did something rare in a maiden claiming race: he made up ground in the stretch. He rallied from eighth place to run a decent third, beaten about two lengths. He earned a figure of 68 in that race, the best last-out number in the field. He’s my pick to wrap things up this Saturday.

The 3, Kiss the Road, is an interesting horse: a Calumet/Zito horse entered in this cheap maiden claiming. He’s shipping in from Belmont, where he was most recently fourth in a bottom-level maiden claiming there. The 8, Ignatius, was pulled up in his last dirt effort after suffering through a world of traffic. Before that, his form was decent.

6- No Brody No (3/1)

3- Kiss the Road (9/5)

8- Ignatius (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.