The Racing Biz is pleased to welcome Shore Bets, with a revolving cast of Monmouth Park handicappers.  Today, 19-year-old Dan Gonella hopes to help you “get everybody’s money.”

by Dan Gonella

There is no better place to be than Oceanport, NJ, as it is nearly Haskell time and the champ is here. This weekend looks to be a great one for racing with some quality stakes racing this entire weekend. Monmouth has a special treat for us as American Pharoah will be schooling in the paddock for Friday’s first race, so make sure to get out to the track early because you won’t see many Triple Crown winners in the Monmouth Park paddock. To prepare for Saturday and Sunday lets look to build a nice bankroll on this Phriday. Let’s get it started…

Race 1: 1 Mile $5,000 Claiming race for three year olds and upward which have not won two races in 2015 or which have never won four races

  1. #6 Laghubaar (2/1)
  2. #1 Bobby V or #1A Puget Sound (9/5)
  3. #5 Paddington Express (4/1)

Friday’s card starts with a $5,000 beaten claimer going one mile on the dirt. I’m going to take Laghubaar in here for Patti Farro and Orlando Bocachica coming out of a similar race in which he ran the highest speed figure of his career. I liked this horse a lot last out, and I like the fact that Bocachica stays aboard while he has ridden first call for Marcus Vitali and Jorge Navarro, trainers of the #2 and #4 respectively. With the presence of both #2, Bea Wildcat, and the #4, El Chivo Viejo, there projects to be a healthy amount of speed, which Laghubaar should sit right off of and take first run while hoping to hold off the closers. The two main threats from off the pace look to be Paddington Express and the entry of either Bobby V or Puget Sound. Both parts of the entry look pretty sharp for Trevor McCarthy and conditioner Jamie Ness; Bobby V has been improving of late and looks to appreciate the stretch out to a mile while Puget Sound should thrive with some nice class relief and the switch to a fast track off of a start where he ran poorly. Paddington Express takes a major drop in class for the tandem of Daniel Centeno and John Pimental; outside of his last start against much tougher allowance foes, he has put together many starts which make him very competitive in this bunch. He should benefit from the potential pace battle up front, just like the entry. However, you can’t leave out #2 Bea Wildcat assuming his price stays at 6-1 or higher. Bea Wildcat breaks sharply every time, opening up by five and seven lengths in his last two starts; expect Rispoli to calm him down a little bit in an attempt to set easier fractions for a barn in which he has won 27% of his races for this year.

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Race 2: 6 furlong $5,000 claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward which have never won two races.

  1. #3 Modern Mystic (12/1)
  2. #4 Heatupthekaufy (6/1)
  3. #1 Acrostic (5/2)

This is just a tough one to read in here with so much speed. It appears as if the 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 may all show speed while the others don’t have real obvious running styles. I think the most likely horse to close into this abundance of speed is Modern Mystic for Wilmar Garcia and Doug Nunn. In the third start off of a long layoff, she removes the blinkers and cuts back to a distance where she had been much more successful at in prior years. Another horse who would likely close into the pace is Heatupthekaufy for Jose Ferrer and Dennis Ward. She is dropping in class and cutting back to six furlongs. I think the dirt races at Tampa would make her pretty competitive here and I can excuse the two Monmouth races since one was over a sloppy track and the other was at a distance she just doesn’t want to get. Acrostic looks to be the main pace presence for Nik Juarez and Jorge Navarro. In the first time facing winners last out she was urged to get the lead, couldn’t get it, and Orlando Bocachica stopped riding around the turn which makes the margin of defeat look much worse than it actually was. I think his chances are hindered with there being so much speed in here, but he ultimately may just be the best horse in this race; I’ll take a small shot against her at too short of a price.

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Race 3: 6 furlong $7,500 claiming race for fillies three years old or fillies and mares four years old and upward which have never won two races.

  1. #4 Twisted Kick (3/1)
  2. #7 Exclusive Symphony (5/2)
  3. #5 Poochy (6/1)

There appears to be no speed in this race outside of the top choice, Twisted Kick. Twisted Kick has folded on the lead before, but she should be able to set easier fractions without the presence of another serious speed horse. Her speed figures have continued to improve and she will carry eight pounds less than the remainder of the field with apprentice Nik Juarez aboard; his bug normally allows him five pounds, but Twisted Kick is allowed an additional three pounds since she is a three year old with only one win. The condition horse is Exclusive Symphony for Patti Farro and Wilmar Garcia. Exclusive Symphony draws into this race as the only horse with multiple wins because she is a three year old. She has been running into improved form as of late and she projects to have a strong closing kick here; if anyone goes to the lead with Twisted Kick this should be Exclusive Symphony’s race to win. A horse dropping in class and switching surfaces is Poochy for Doug Nunn and Navin Mangalee. Although Poochy should do her running from off the pace, she should appreciate the cutback in distance as well as the class relief; her last two dirt sprint races would make her pretty competitive in this bunch.

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Race 4: 6 furlong $6,000 claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward.

  1. #9 Louisa Girl (3/1)
  2. #6 Lost in Success (5/2)
  3. #4 A Unique Lady (4/1)

I’m taking my shot in this race with Louisa Girl for Orlando Bocachica and Marcus Vitali. Louisa Girl takes a large drop in class in the first start off the claim for a barn that thrives in such scenarios. This horse goes from good barn to good barn after Michael Pino dropped her into a $16,000 claiming race following three allowance races in which she was protected. Pino originally lost her for $12,500 and liked her enough to take her back $16,000 in her first start after she was claimed for him. She has put up quality speed figures and I can excuse her last race in the slop at Belmont since she was steadied twice. Lost in Success bounced back in a major way in the second start off of the layoff last out for Rudy Rodriguez. She projects to be on the lead and is very dangerous if healthy, but the multiple layoffs in her running lines are a concern. Her races in New York would likely dominate this field, but she has run only four times since May 2014. She projects to be on the lead, but may face pressure from the 1,2 and or 8. Another horse dropping in class is A Unique Lady for Trevor McCarthy and Patti Farro. She has had trouble in her last two starts against better foes and she loves the distance (two wins, two seconds and three thirds in eight starts). She projects to sit a nice trip right off of the pace, giving her a nice shot to do her best running here.

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Race 5: 1 1/16 mile $20,000 turf claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward which have never won three races.

  1. #2 Lady Liana (5/1)
  2. #9 Archer Queen (9/2)
  3. #7 Make Your Point (7/2)

We hit the turf for the first time on Friday with what should be a solid betting race. I really like Lady Liana for Daniel Centeno and Joe Orseno in the third start off of the layoff. Lady Liana is stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth from two sprint races that she didn’t seem to want any part of. She projects to show speed coming out of two sprint races which is a plus because the Monmouth turf course has been rather speed favoring in route races lately. She has put up quality speed figures over the turf and she has run in much tougher races throughout her career. The drop in class, stretch out to a preferable distance and the potentially speed favoring turf course all figure to help her cause here; I would be shocked and extremely happy to get a price like 5/1. Archer Queen has put together two solid second place finishes in two open claiming races as she takes a drop into the non-winners of three lifetime ranks. Archer Queen’s form has been on the rise and she retains the services of Abel Castellano Jr who has been racking up wins lately. She will likely make a late run from off of the pace; even though speed horses have done well over the Monmouth turf, there are three probable speed horses, so she could benefit from a pace meltdown. Make Your Point should make a run similar to Archer Queen, although she may be a little closer with the fast pace. She rarely runs a bad race on the grass for Rudy Rodriguez and she figures to be passing horses late here.

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Race 6: 6 furlong $36,000 Maiden Special Weight for three year olds and upward

  1. #4 Ideal Quality (5/1)
  2. #5 Shadow Jack (3/1)
  3. #6 Rock Star Status (2/1)

Like most maiden special weight races here, this looks like a pretty tough race to start the late pick 5. As long as I get a decent price, I’ll go with Ideal Quality for Todd Pletcher and Abel Castellano Jr. I find it a tad odd that Pletcher is debuting a four year old here, but this colt has been training pretty well lately. He is out of an A.P Indy mare and although he is the first runner for her, A.P Indy is annually one of the top five best broodmare sires in North America, so I think he will be worth a shot at a higher price than your likely favorites. Rock Star Status returns to the races for Wayne Catalano and Trevor McCarthy. As a yearling, owners Gary and Mary West shelled out a hefty sum for this colt bred by Darley, $425,000 to be exact, and he ran a bang-up race in his debut over a sealed track at Oaklawn Park in March. He has been working well of late and the experience definitely can’t hurt, although Catalano’s stats for a layoff lasting 61-360 days and maiden second start are not that strong for a guy who wins 20% of his races, so this may be the time to beat him if you really want to take a shot. As long as Rock Star Status isn’t odds on he is very intriguing; he has two siblings that have racked up six figure career earnings, one of which won a grade one race, and the debut speed figure is pretty impressive. Todd Pletcher ships in first time starter Shadow Jack following some excellent works in New York. Pletcher wins 36% of races when he ships in for maiden special weight races at the Jersey Shore. I expect Shadow Jack and Rock Star Status to take a lot of money, so I am using Ideal Quality as more of a value play, if he gets bet more I will have to assess where the greatest value lies since I don’t have a strong enough opinion here.

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Race 7: 1 1/16 mile $12,500 turf claiming race for fillies and mares three years old and upward

  1. #7 Supah Jalene (12/1)
  2. #9 Fava (3/1)
  3. #5 Lady’s Lunar Luck (4/1)

If the speed holds up on the grass in the fifth race you really have to give Supah Jalene a look in this spot for Jose Ferrer and Joseph Pierce. Granted she hasn’t won a race in ages, but she has run a bunch of competitive races against better competition throughout her entire racing career. She gets the addition of blinkers and she will have a veteran in the irons who will know where to have her placed on this turf course. I imagine she will be on or right off of the lead and she seems pretty fit with her last two solid workouts; the addition of blinkers may help her get brave and give her the edge she needs; it doesn’t appear she is facing any world beaters in here, so I think 12/1 is great value. You have to respect Fava in the first start off the claim for Jorge Navarro. This mare should move up in the third start off of the layoff and the first start off of the claim; she projects to make a late run at the leaders and should pass a lot of horses. Lady’s Lunar Luck also looks to sit off of the pace to make her run in here for Marcus Vitali and Matt Rispoli. Rispoli is taking the trip to Monmouth for two mounts, both for Vitali, and this one looks pretty live here; the only other time Rispoli came here this year he had one win and one second place finish in two starts. Last out Lady’s Lunar Luck ran a bang up race while breaking slow, her past races against better have been pretty respectable; don’t expect anything different here.

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Race 8: 5 ½ Furlong $10,000 claiming race for three year olds and upward

  1. #7 Prague (3/1)
  2. #3 Wildcatpleasures (5/2)
  3. #6 Pacific Image (5/1)

There appears to be a ton of speed and not much closing kick in this sprint race, so it should be pretty interesting. I’m going with Prague for Daniel Centeno and Joe Orseno coming out of a $12,500 beaten claiming race. In that June 20th race, which was his second start of the year and his first start since April, he was impressive in wiring a field that was definitely stronger than it may look. In eight career starts he has four wins as it appears he has continued to improve in almost every start. He may not get the lead, but that may not be a bad thing because it appears that at least the 2, 3 and 4 need the lead. Wildcatpleasures looms the main threat for Nik Juarez and Jorge Navarro. You can excuse the last start against tough allowance foes. He has shown to be a serious speed threat, but I don’t know how good the competition is that he has faced in those conditioned claiming races he has won. I think Wildcatpleasures looks good, especially with the weight allowance, but I think he may be a bit over-bet. Pacific Image appears to be the only horse who has shown some closing kick which sets him up rather nicely here. Young trainer Liam Benson stepped this horse up from a $10,000 claimer to a $16,000 claiming race in which he held his own after bumping at the start. If the track appears slow he is one you will definitely have to look out for.

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Race 9: 1 1/16 mile $30,000 turf optional claimer 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. #3 Depeche Chat (5/2)
  2. #4 Tune Me In (3/1)
  3. #2 Vinceremos (5/1)

Once again, we get another really solid turf race for our Friday feature. Depeche Chat looks pretty sharp here, although his opponents are no slouches, for Daniel Centeno and Jorge Navarro. Depeche Chat is coming out of some classier optional claimers at Belmont and Gulfstream in which he ran against some really good horses. He got beat by a freak on July 4th in a race that was just too short for him, yet he showed some solid closing kick while running four wide. He should sit nicely right off of the likely pacesetters today, and I think he is just ready to go following a bullet work on Monday. Tune Me In is one you have to respect in the first start off of the claim for Jamie Ness. McCarthy stays aboard in the third start this year; I think she will also be pretty close to the leaders, but I don’t know how much Ness will move up on this eight year old gelding. Expect to see an improved performance off of the last start, but I still prefer Depeche Chat. I anticipate that Vinceremos should present some decent value for Todd Pletcher and Abel Castellano Jr. Vinceremos is a classy individual who had a solid turf debut, albeit against a weaker field, but it was definitely an effort to build upon. Interesting that Pletcher steps this gelding up in class here and I think he will put forth a good effort on or right off of the lead.

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Race 10: 1 mile 70 yards $5,000 claiming race for fillies and mares that have not won since January 31 or have never won three races.

  1. #6 Shes Tuff As Nails (5/2)
  2. #1 Jojo’s Gal (2/1)
  3. #2 Fifth Amendment (30/1)

Honestly, all I feel confident about in this race is that Jojo’s Gal is going to want the lead. She struggled to hold the lead with a weight allowance in her last start, but she should be the one to catch today for a solid trainer and jockey combo. However, I don’t think she will be alone on the lead as, at least, the 3 should pressure her. I’ll side with Shes Tuff As Nails because she will hope to sit a nice trip right off of the pace setters; there isn’t much closing kick so she may be able to hold off any late runners. I included Fifth Amendment because she was only beaten three and a half lengths by Shes Tuff As Nails and she finished ahead of Sandbag in the last start. I know she fell two starts ago and she may have been shaken up, but the distance was probably too short for her and she was hardly ridden at all throughout the race. With that being said, I think 30/1 is worth a small shot when the 3 and 6 are not much better than her, if they are better than her at all.

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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.