The Racing Biz is pleased to welcome “Get everybody’s money” and 19-year-old Dan Gonella into the fold for his Friday Monmouth Park handicapping gig.

by Dan Gonella

We’re back at beautiful Monmouth Park for a solid Friday of racing. Last week didn’t treat us too kindly, but we have to get back up on that horse and try to hit ‘em hard here for our friends at Danonymousracing and TheRacingBiz. There is no Paco Lopez today so don’t be surprised to see some solid betting value in most races. Best of luck to those following, let’s get after it!

 Race 1: 6 Furlongs $16,000 claiming race for three year olds or four year olds and upward which have never won two races.

  1. #5 Jimmy Connors (8/5)
  2. #2 Speed Running Wild (6-1)
  3. #1 Chocolate Wildcat (5/2)

We start today’s card with a few horses dropping in class for a $16,000 beaten claimer going six furlongs. This race looks to have drawn some speed as Chocolate Wildcat, Rocket Man Richie, and Jimmy Connors have all shown a history of wanting the lead. It seems that both Chocolate Wildcat, with promising apprentice Nik Juarez, and Rocket Man Richie, with a solid front end rider in Jose Ferrer, are most likely to go to the front as Jimmy Connors may take back a little bit second off the layoff with Trevor McCarthy in the irons. Unless Jimmy outbreaks everyone, I like his chances to sit right off of a nice pace and take first run at the two speedsters. His last race was pretty solid since it was his first in eleven months, I would imagine he is physically sound if Kelly Breen is running him back here; he is eligible to improve here, and an improvement should get him to the wire first in this field. You have to respect Chocolate Wildcat dropping from a minor stake for the always dangerous Jason Servis. It seems that the surface switch back to dirt may be in his best interest, but this is his first time facing older horses, so while I respect him, I won’t be giving him the nod this time out. I’ll use Speed Running Wild in here for Manuel Berrios and Ionel Beato in his second start off of the layoff. This gelding put together a very nice effort last time for a barn that struggles off of such a layoff. While going up in class he spotted the field 14 lengths and closed into a hot pace, which he should get here as well. His trainer has an ROI of $11.29 in the second start off of this type of layoff and he is receiving a favorable drop from open claiming company to the beaten claiming ranks.

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Race 2: 1 Mile and 70 Yards $5,000 claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward which have not won two races in 2015 or which have never won four races.


  1. #3 Allie Sweet (3-1)
  2. #2 Crafty Chick (5-2)
  3. #4 Single Handed (2-1)

This race looks to be pretty chalky, so here’s to hoping everyone takes a little money and the odds don’t change all that much. At first glance I thought that there would be a healthy amount of speed in this race with the 2,3,4,6 and 7 all showing some prior glimpses of early speed. However, I have a feeling that Allie Sweet may be able to steal this one on the front end for Ramon Moya and Patti Farro. Allie looks most likely to go to the lead to me and she now gets here second start off a couple off of a decent layoff for a trainer who does very well with such a move. Allie has run some quality races at similar distances against better fields than this; not to mention you can excuse her last five races due to two layoffs along with stumbling at the start, breaking through the gate prior to the start, breaking in the air, catching a muddy track and trying the turf with a Tomlinson turf rating of 165 (DRF considers 280 the threshold of a good turf pedigree rating). I think the 2, 4 and maybe even the 6 are likely to take back, so if she can get an easy lead over her rivals I think she has a great shot to wire the field. Crafty Chick returns here following a win last out over a sloppy track in what was her first race for Jorge Navarro. I’m thinking that getting her to win last out in the slop, which she had not handled well prior to the claim by Navarro, was impressive enough that the poor speed figure does not show her true improvement for a barn that is known to get the most out of their horses. Unless Bocachica is ultra-confident and just dares the other horses to catch him on the lead, he should sit a nice trip right off of the lead. Single Handed looks to sit a similar trip as she drops switches from turf to dirt and drops in from the open claiming ranks. Trainer Pat Marrotta has done very well at the meet and this mare has put up some of the best speed figures in this field. If Allie Sweet is pressured, expect Crafty Chick and Single Handed to run down the pace setters.

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Race 3: 1 Mile $20,000 Maiden Turf Race for fillies and mares three years old and up

  1. #5 Cocoa Bandita (12-1)
  2. #7 Key d’Oro (5/2)
  3. #6 Cadillac Rose (10-1)

If you have a strong opinion in this race, good for you, because I found this one hard to dissect. I imagine Key d’Oro will go off favored, and probably at a lower price than 5/2, because she has some of the better turf route speed figures. I would definitely use her, but I’m not the type of guy to put a win bet on an oh-for maiden who loves to run second and third in the lower maiden levels; however, she is definitely worth win bet consideration if she drifts up from 5/2. I’m going to take a small stab with a price and hope that the Ice is right for Cocoa Bandita. Trainer Tim Ice has done very well in a limited number of runners at this year’s Monmouth meet. He ships this filly up from Delaware and gets another top rider aboard. Ice was trying to get her in on the turf last month at Delaware Park in a race that eventually got rained off the turf course; she will also go around two turns for the second time which should help her here. Although we have no proof that she can run, I think the fact that she got Kerwin Clark to stay aboard in the race that got rained off the turf and now gets another top rider in the irons, along with the last workout and the fact that she took some money at the window in her last two starts has to say something about her. Who knows, maybe I’m just looking too hard for something that isn’t there, but I think she is worth a shot at a price. Another potential longshot that I like is Cadillac Rose who is making her first start in the barn of Jane Cibelli. Cibelli gives the mount to Nik Juarez, giving her a weight allowance, and adds blinkers, so it appears that she will be looking to go to the lead in here. Cibelli excels with these moves, but it appears there is other speed with the 2 and 3. If the 2 scratches, you definitely have to respect both the 2 and 3 as there appears to be no other early speed in the field.

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Race 4: 1 Mile and 70 Yards $7,500 claiming race for three year olds and upward which have never won three races.

  1. #6 Better Man (2-1)
  2. #1 Alpha Dude (5-2)
  3. #2 Throwback (3-1)

This looks to be another chalky race here as we go around two turns in another cheap claiming race. I think my top three choices should all take money, so unless anyone absolutely hammers a horse, you should get some decent prices on your top three betting choices. I’m going with Better Man for my man Wilmar Garcia and Gerald Bennett off a sizeable drop in class. The stretch out to today’s distance seemed to help the late runner as he just missed after running behind a slow pace. Garcia tried to take the rail when it wasn’t there and still almost won after altering course from the rail to the three path halfway down the stretch; he has been riding great lately and I wouldn’t expect him to make that mistake again, especially since he has more of an outside draw here. He looks to have a quicker pace to close into as I think there is a chance that almost any other horse could want the lead. None of these horses seems to need the lead, but I would be shocked to see only one horse take the lead. Alpha Dude and Throwback have the best connections in their respective corners while both have run okay against better company. Both seem to show some versatility, which is very likeable in a race where it is hard to completely identify the pacesetters.

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Race 5: 1 1/16 mile $25,000 turf claiming race

  1. #6 Lighthouse Sound (3-1)
  2. #5 Yari (5/2)
  3. #9 Hyman Roth (6-1)

We go back to the grass here and we have a pretty nice group lined up in this field. Lighthouse Sound goes for his third straight win on a turf course he seems to love (four wins in eleven starts) while joining the barn of Jamie Ness who is winning at a 34% clip in the first start off the claim. Lighthouse Sound has made $400,000 on the turf in his career, and I like his chances to collect the winner’s share in this race. There looks to be some speed in this bunch which will compliment his late running style. While he does not come out of the best race, you cannot doubt that this eight-year-old gelding is all class for some red-hot connections; the horse is red hot himself with a four wins and one second place finish in his six starts this year. Yari looks to be a tough customer as he drops in from the option claiming ranks where he was pretty successful for trainer Bobby Dibona. Dibona has been having a very nice meet himself, and he will have Jersey Joe Bravo in the irons for him here. Just like Lighthouse Sound and Yari, Hyman Roth looks to come from off of pace for Daniel Centeno. Hyman Roth should sit a nice stalking trip and looks to rebound from the loss against some tough New York bred optional claiming foes.

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Race 6: 6 Furlong $12,000 optional claimer for three year olds and upward which have started for a claiming price of $7,500 or less in 2014-2015 or claiming price of $12,500.

  1. #6 Pinetree Pro (6-1)
  2. #2 Loverbil (3/2)
  3. #3 Doddsprivatelabel (2-1)

This looks to be a sharp field here in this six furlong optional claiming event. In a field of horses that have earned a lot of money, I have to say that I think Loverbill is defintly the horse to beat. With that being said, I’m going to take a shot elsewhere if I don’t get a better price than 3/2. Both Loverbill and Doddsprivatelabel have shown some tremendous improvement following barn switches as they are four for six with one second place finish and three for eight with four seconds and one third, respectively. Both like to do their running from a little off the pace and that has obviously worked very well for these two talented horses. Even though I respect the two morning line favorites tremendously, I am going to take a shot with the horse on the outside, Pinetree Pro. Pinetree Pro steps up a little in class, but drops in claiming price, in his first start off the claim for Hugh McMahon. McMahon, a sharp trainer in general, has had plenty of success in his first start off the claim as he calls upon Daniel Centeno who rides well in a lot of races for him. I think Pinetree Pro has a legitimate shot to control the pace and wire this field, especially if the track is favoring front runners. Pinetree Pro is the only horse in for a claiming tag here which means he has not started for a claiming price of $7,500 or less in 2014-2015; after just claiming him for $25,000 last start, it makes sense that McMahon feels confident in this runner as he drops him in for $12,500. He has been working very well recently, so I will definitely take a shot as long as he stays above 5/1, otherwise I would likely look for some value in the well proven Loverbill or Doddsprivatelabel.

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Race 7: 5 furlong $40,000 claiming race on the turf for fillies and mares three years old or fillies and mares four years old and upward which have never won two races.

  1. #5 Perpetual Novena (3-1)
  2. #3 Have a Taste (5-1)
  3. #1 Shimmering Cara (7/2)

Back on the grass here, this time for a sprint, that looks to be full of speed. It appears that the 1,3,6,7 and 8 may all want the lead which should bode well for anyone who can run from off the pace. Of the aforementioned horses, Have a Taste and Shimmering Cara have both shown versatility as they have put together solid efforts from on and off the lead. Shimmering Cara broke slowly last out and was rushed up to the lead in a tougher $20,000 optional claiming event where she eventually tired, but didn’t fade too much. If she breaks cleanly I would imagine that Orlando Bocachica will give her a shot to take the lead without wasting as much energy as last time; if she gets the lead she has shown toughness to hold it, but if they don’t get the lead she still possess a nice shot to do some late running. Have a Taste also appears to have versatility, but I would not be shocked to see the patient Angel Serpa take back a little bit and let the others battle for the lead. She has two straight wins, three overall, and is one of only two horses that has multiple career wins since she is a three year old. She beat a nice filly last out who eventually came back to win an optional claimer at Delaware Park, and she should command a lot of respect here. I’m going to say a prayer and take Perpetual Novena in here as she drops in for her lowest ever claiming tag. Perpetual Novena has faced some real quality horses and just about every race she has run in has come back as a key race meaning that those races have produced next out winners. Every try of hers on the turf has been solid, and I would expect nothing less here.

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Race 8: 6 furlong $25,000 maiden claimer

  1. #2 Cayden Can (3-1)
  2. #6 Bruno and Me (7/2)
  3. #4 Intrepid Son (9/2)

In this maiden claiming event, my top choice will be Cayden Can for Derek Ryan and Carlos Olivero. Cayden Can broke slowly in his first career start, but put together a decent effort in which he had an excuse. Ryan will add blinkers and hope he is ready to go second time out; Ryan only wins at a 10% clip with first time starters and this gelding still received some betting action in his first start making me think that Cayden can run. Bruno and Me ships in and will face state-breds after two open maiden races at Parx. He ran much better after receiving some class relief in his second career start as he spotted the field ten lengths and made up six lengths in the stretch to finish a decent third. Intrepid Son drops in from the maiden $50,000 level in which he was off slowly and steadied which gave him virtually no chance. Trainer Timothy Hills gets top pilot Daniel Centeno to stay aboard in hopes for a clean trip here.

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Race 9: 5 furlong $30,000 turf optional claiming race for three year olds and upward which have never won two races other than maiden, claiming, starter or state bred restricted or which have never won three races or claiming price of $30,000

  1. #6 Oak Bluffs (2-1)
  2. #5 Deterrent (5/2)
  3. #2 Respighi (12-1)

Today’s feature looks to be a quality turf sprint as we have some solid turf runners as well as some unknowns. There projects to be a lot of speed signed on in here which favors Oak Bluffs and jockey Trevor McCarthy. Oak Bluffs has been an absolute beast since claimed by Jamie Ness; the win last out was visually very impressive as he split foes in the stretch and exploded to win by three lengths. Although Oak Bluffs looks tough, don’t expect Deterrent to back down from the challenge. Deterrent is well proven on the front end and appears most likely of the speed threats to actually hold that speed throughout the race. Respighi has shown he can run well off a long layoff and his style seems to fit well here against some definite speed horses. I don’t think he can run past Oak Bluffs, but I expect him to pass the others at a solid price.

Race 10: 1 1/16 mile $5,000 claiming race for three year olds and upward which have not won a race since January 24, 2015 or have never won three races.

  1. #3 Start Jumping (1-1)
  2. #8 Bo Badger (6-1)
  3. #1 Street Slang (15-1)

In the finale, the one to beat appears to be Start Jumping for Jorge Navarro and Drawing Away Stables. The connections are known for dropping horses and playing the claiming game, but this drop is very drastic, especially when he looks like a pretty decent runner. Jockey Carlos Marquez may either sit right off of Street Slang or he may just dare the others to come catch him as the class of the field. I can only hope that the horse is sound and he is not being run injured because if he is healthy he should win this race, but I don’t know if he will be a betable price. Bo Badger made a strong early move around the turn and was caught right before the wire last out.  I expect Trevor McCarthy to make a more patient ride here and wouldn’t be surprised to see a nice improvement. Street Slang appears to be the only speed as he goes back to blinkers and stretches out from a sprint to a preferred distance. If left alone by Start Jumping, the Camacho man will likely get brave on the lead, hopefully brave enough to hold off the late runners at a real nice price.


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.