The Racing Biz is pleased to welcome Shore Bets, with a revolving cast of Monmouth Park handicappers.  Today, 19-year-old aspiring announcer John Piassek hopes to make the right call.

by John Piassek

It’s finally here: Haskell Eve! Eleven races are scheduled for Saturday’s program, headlined by the $75,000 Regret Stakes for female sprinters.

Race 1:Maiden Claiming $50,000, 2yo, Fillies, 5 ½ Furlongs

  1. 1- Catchumdenae/1A- Dance N Denae (5/2)
  2. 4- Grand Persona (3/1)
  3. 2- She’s Going Strong (5/1)

I will follow the Denaes in here, and take the coupled entry in this wide-open first race. The 1, Catchumdenae, ran a respectable third against maiden claiming company in her debut, and turned in a sharp workout a week ago. She figures to improve off her Brisnet figure of 51 in that race. Her entrymate, Dance n Denae, has run three times, all of them with figures in the high 50s. No one else in the field has been able to touch that, and there’s no reason to believe any of the first timers will do better.

The 4, Grand Persona, was second after running wide the whole way in her debut. With an inside post this time, she should save more ground. The 2, She’s Going Strong, has turned in some great workouts to prepare for this race.

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Race 2: Claiming $10,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile

  1. 2- North Ocean (5/2)
  2. 6- Cosmic Coincidence (3/1)
  3. 3- Allstar (8/1)

I’ll take the horse well-proven over the Monmouth track, and that’s the 2, North Ocean. He won at this level last out, winning going away while earning a figure of 88. Not only that, but the horse whom he defeated easily, Dancing Lion, was six lengths clear of the third place finisher. He’s proven numerous times he can beat this kind of competition, and today should be no different.

The 6, Cosmic Coincidence, has a ton of early speed, but gets a cold jockey and will try to stretch it out here. He seems like he’ll either win it or be off the board. I will tread lightly. The 3, Allstar, was claimed out of his last race by the insanely hot Bruce Alexander, and won at this level back in May.
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Race 3: Maiden Claiming $10,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

  1. 2- Bella Yolanda (8/5)
  2. 3- O’Lucey (7/2)
  3. 7- Lili St. Cyr (8/1)

In a lousy race like this, it’s helpful if you can find a nugget of info to help you find the winner. The 2, Bella Yolanda, has such a nugget up her sleeve. While her figures have been among the tops in the field, what separates her from the rest is being claimed by Claudio Gonzalez out of her last effort. Gonzalez is hitting at a rock-solid 29% with horses that he’s running for the first time. Getting the training of Gonzalez means that Bella Yolanda is likely to return to her impressive form of a few starts ago, which should propel her to victory.

The 3, O’Lucey, has been competitive at this level all season, but carries an unsightly 0-20 record coming in here. She has the look of a bridesmaid for life. The 7, Lili St. Cyr, has been improving in all three starts this year.

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Race 4: Claiming $12,500 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, 1 Mile

  1. 3- Doherty (6/1)
  2. 7- Video Mov (7/2)
  3. 11- Mi Amore (5/1)

Although he’s primarily a grass horse, the 3, Doherty, has shown flashes of brilliance whenever he makes a trip to the dirt. In his last effort on dirt, last May here at Monmouth, he was a solid second at this level, earning a figure of 83. He makes his second start off a long layoff here, and takes a big drop down in class. Not to mention, trainer Tony Wilson and jockey Trevor McCarthy are both having strong seasons; Wilson’s quietly hitting at 20%.

The 7, Video Mov, was second at this level last out, but exits the always dangerous Ness barn. He makes his first start for Stephen DiMauro, who’s had just one winner this season. The 11, Mi Amore, has won two starts this season, but gets a difficult outside post with a start close to the turn.

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Race 5: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w3x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 2- Captain’s Affair (3/1)
  2. 7- Special Envoy (5/2)
  3. 4- With Exultation (7/2)

A quality field of allowance runners lines up here, including Monmouth stalwart Freestyler. Now, he’s also entered in a stakes at Mountaineer on Saturday, and I’d rather he go there. He deserves a shot at stakes competition. But I digress.

Anyway, my pick is the 2, Captain’s Affair. He ran at this level last out at Laurel, and made a huge move late to miss by just a nose. He earned a figure of 93 in that race, one of the best earned by any of the members of the field. His trainer, Arnaud Delacour, is always sharp with grass runners, and is a solid 19% with shippers. You should get a decent price on whoever you like here, and Captain’s Affair will earn my support.

The 7, Special Envoy, lacked room in his last outing at Delaware, and is Delacour’s other entrant in here. He’s also dangerous. The 4, With Exultation, battled for the lead the whole way last out, and held on to win it. Now, he’s got the most early speed by far, so he should have an easier time getting to the front.

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Race 6: Allowance (n/w2x), 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 1- Acini di Pepe (9/2)
  2. 3- Chublicious (3/1)
  3. 5- Dancing Lion (5/1)

His one dirt race this year may have been dull, but I still lean toward the 1, Acini di Pepe, in this tough Jersey-bred allowance. In his lone route race on dirt, which was last September, he won going away, earning a figure of 91. He ran poorly against open company in a sprint in his last dirt start, but stepping back down to Jersey-breds, he may find the going easier.

The 3, Chubilicious, has the best figures in the race by far, earning numbers in the high 80s-low 90s every time. However, he’s earned all of those sprinting. Now, he’s stretching out. He may very well enjoy the longer distance, but, as they say, never bet a horse doing something he’s never done before. I’ll pass at likely short odds. The 5, Dancing Lion, ran big in open company last out, earning a figure of 87.

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Race 7: Claiming $12,500, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 1- Dubai Time (9/2)
  2. 7- Nineinthenine (6/1)
  3. 2- Seeya When I Seeya (8/1)

My pick in here will be the 1, Dubai Time. He exits a starter handicap race, where he was visually unimpressive. However, he earned a strong figure of 84 in that race, and has run figures above 80 virtually every time out. Trainer Derek Ryan has also been strong with his grass runners as of late, hitting at 17% with a positive ROI. Dubai Time’s no “shore” thing, but he’s nonetheless a strong contender.

The 7, Nineinthenine, ran a huge race in his 2015 grass debut last out, frantically rallying down the stretch to miss by a neck at 16/1. With a race under his belt, he figures to improve strongly from that race. If the price is right, he’s one to watch.

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Race 8: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 1- Dragonberry (5/1)
  2. 5- RU Dreaming (6/1)
  3. 8- Souper Scoop (3/1)

I’ll begin the late pick 4 with the strong late speed of the 1, Dragonberry. She closed from the back to win against n/w1x allowance company last out here at Monmouth. She enters this race with some of the best figures in the field, including an 89 in her last effort. What separates her from the rest of her rivals, however, is her late speed numbers. Often in the late 90s, they mean she’ll still be rolling late, while the rest of the field is tiring out. Trainer Todd Pletcher has been hitting at 31% with his Monmouth runners this year, including a 30% rate with horses who won their last race.

The 5, RU Dreaming, ran big races at Penn National, including a 93 in her last race, and comes from the dangerous Jamie Ness barn. The 8, Souper Scoop, loves Monmouth, with two wins and two seconds from four races over the track.

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Race 9: Claiming $20,000 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 10- Pirradazis (3/1)
  2. 2- Lucky Balladier (9/2)
  3. 14- Tree Fire (8/1)

It’s almost impossible to have a strong opinion in this kind of field. Nobody in it has very strong credentials. I wound up selecting the 10, Pirradazis. He’s been second twice at this level this season, and is one of the few in the field to consistently run figures in the 70s. He also has a competent trainer, in Kathleen O’Connell, and a sharp jockey, in Trevor McCarthy. For those reasons, I give a slight edge to him.

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Race 10: Regret Stakes, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

  1. 5- Room For Me (3/1)
  2. 7- Satan’s Mistress (4/1)
  3. 2- Stonetastic (5/2)

Today’s feature race is loaded with speed, meaning that any horse who comes from off the pace is automatically at an advantage. Such is the situation with the 5, Room For Me. While not a closer per se, she doesn’t have as much early speed as the rest, while possessing a preponderance of late speed. Two starts back, against allowance company, she blew away her rivals, earning a 93 figure, and had earned a 99 two starts back. She’s also trained by David Jacobson, one of the top trainers at Monmouth. I’ll take Room For Me to pull it off.

The 7, Satan’s Mistress, is coming off a third place finish in the Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware last out. She’ll be confronted with more pace pressure today. The 2, Stonetastic, won the Prioress last year at Saratoga, but makes her first start of 2015 here. At a likely low price, I would advise to go against for win betting.

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Race 11: Maiden Claiming $20,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 2- Feisty Valentina (5/2)
  2. 5- Annie Dancing (9/2)
  3. 9- Upstate Bird (4/1)

An unremarkable field of maiden claimers on the grass closes the Saturday show. I’ll pick the 2, Feisty Valentina in here. Last time out, she led down the stretch, and looked home free, only to get caught late. All her figures have been in the low 70s range, which should lead to a victory.

The 9, Upstate Bird, made up six lengths in the stretch in her grass debut at Delaware. She could improve here. The 5, Annie Dancing, narrowly missed with a big closing rally last out. If Feisty Valentina can’t hold on, either one of these two can pick up the pieces.

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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.