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

There are 108 horses entered 12 races at Monmouth Saturday, which is also day 1 of the much-anticipated Crab Cake Festival. The racing’s highlighted by the Blue Sparkler Stakes, for female sprinters.

Race 1: Claiming $6,000, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs

  1. 3- Steve’s Adventures (5/1)
  2. 5- Where’s That Cat (6/1)
  3. 6- Hop Skip and Away (7/2)

The 3, Steve’s Adventures looks very difficult to beat in the opener. He’s already won twice at the Monmouth meet, including a dominating win at this level last out. His Brisnet figures are consistently the strongest in the field, earning an 81 and an 82 in two of his most recent outings. This is in strong contrast to the rest of his rivals, whose form is spotty at best. You won’t quite get the 21/1 he went off at last out, but he’s nonetheless the safest bet among the bunch.

The 5, Where’s That Cat, stopped after being on the pace last time out. However, he enters a weaker $6,000 claimer than last time, and had hung around in starts before. He’ll hope to regain his form here. The 6, Hop Skip and Away, won at this level two starts back, and gets some much-needed class relief today.

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Race 2: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles

  1. 2- Canal Street (2/1)
  2. 8- Rakete (3/1)
  3. 5- D’Marin (3/1)

I’ll trust in the magic of Jamie Ness and go with the 2, Canal Street. He was strong over the winter at Laurel, running figures in the 80s every time he went out. He was off until Monday, when he returned against $8,000 horses at Delaware. Now, he’s running for $3,000 less off five day’s rest. I assume that Ness, who has been having an outstanding season at Monmouth, designed that race as a prep, and will have Canal Street more cranked for his second start off the layoff. If he can return to his form over the winter, he should air.

The 8, Rakete, drops to the $5,000 level after being outclassed versus richer horses. In this spot, he’ll be one of the fastest in the field, and looks the most likely should Canal Street not fire. The 5, D’Marin, made a strong rally to just miss against similar last week. If he’s kept closer to the pace, he’ll be dangerous.

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Race 3: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, Fillies, 5 ½ Furlongs

  1. 6- It’s My Pleasure (5/2)
  2. 3- Knuckle Knock (3/1)
  3. 5- Wild Ridge (4/1)

Among the three horses in the field who have run before, the 6, It’s My Pleasure, looks the most likely to win. She was a respectable second in her debut here at Monmouth, earning a figure of 69. That’s the highest last-out figure among any of the other horses by sixteen points. In that debut, she was soundly defeated by a hot Todd Pletcher trainee, but managed to finish four lengths clear of the third-place finisher. There’s no such strong contender in here, and trainer Eddie Plesa hits at 23% with horses making their second career start. I project further improvement with her here, which should mean victory.

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Race 4: Claiming $7,500 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 8- Momma’s Favorite (3/1)
  2. 3- Clock Stopper (2/1)
  3. 1- Union Square (6/1)

Most of the horses in here are sprinters stretching out to a route. The 8, Momma’s Favorite, is an intriguing exception. All of her races this season have been routing, and she earned a solid win versus maiden claiming company three starts back. Her figures of 74 and 72 among her last three races are some of the best in the field, and the fact that they were earned at routes only makes them better. Trainer Marcus Vitali hits at 18% with horses second off the claim, and jockey Matthew Rispoli wins at 27% with his select Monmouth starters. Momma’s Favorite hopes to improve off her dull effort on Sunday, and I think that this is the perfect spot to do it in.

The 3, Clock Stopper, was strong while sprinting at Belmont, but has to stretch that out here, and likely at short odds. The 1, Union Square, was strong at Parx in a route a few starts back, and hopes to regain that form here.

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Race 5: Maiden Special Weight, 3yo and up, 1 Mile (Grass)

  1. 3- Distorted Windfall (7/2)
  2. 2- Sixth Man (3/1)
  3. 4- Smooth Talkin Tom (9/2)

This race is a total crapshoot. The only horse who’s run on grass is the 5, Jones Taxi, who was annihilated in a grass sprint in his debut at Parx. Everyone else has either run exclusively on dirt, or is a first-time starter.

Without too much confidence, I went with the 3, Distorted Windfall. He was dull in his lone race so far, at six furlongs at Laurel last fall. Since then, he’s been working strongly, including a four furlong bullet in :49.0 at Fair Hill last out. Trainer Arnaud Delacour is a solid 17% with horses making their grass debut, and is 20% with horses off a long layoff. Distorted Windfall also looks to be well-bred for grass. He’s no “shore” thing, but is worth a bet.

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

  1. 7- Any Valid Saturday (5/2)
  2. 2- More Than Special (4/1)
  3. 1- Twisted Kick (7/2)

I’ll take the Parx invader: the 7, Any Valid Saturday. She won at this level easily last out, rallying past her rivals around the turn and winning by almost four lengths. Her figure in that race was a 77, second-best in the field. The top-figure horse, the 1, Twisted Kick, earned a 79 in her last race, and her running style calls for her to sprint out to a fast early lead and hope for the best. Should she melt down, Any Valid Saturday is the most likely one to pick up the pieces.

The 2, More Than Special, has been a well-beaten second three times in a row against similar opposition. She probably won’t win this one, but is worth consideration for the exotics.


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Race 7: Maiden Claiming $22,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 10- Annie Dancing (6/1)
  2. 11- Mulligan’s Singer (7/2)
  3. 8- Dilly Dedalus (8/1)

I look towards the outside, and pick the 10, Annie Dancing. In her last effort, she was in the midst of a rally when she had to steady on the turn. Nonetheless, she recovered to lose by only two lengths. She declined by a few points in that race, but had been running figures in the low 60s-early 70s when she had cleaner trips. She also has some of the best late speed figures in the race, and a jockey upgrade to Orlando Bocachica.

The 11, Mulligan’s Singer, showed strong improvement to finish third at this level in her last race. The 8, Dilly Dedalus, was decent at Parx a few starts back at this condition, and has a chance to surprise.

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Race 8: Claiming $25,000 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs

  1. 10- Masons Dream (6/1)
  2. 8- Chocolate Wildcat (5/2)
  3. 1- Splitter (6/1)

The late pick five begins with ten sprinting claimers. I’ll take an outsider, literally: #10 Masons Dream will be breaking from the far outside post. He ran strong races on dirt over the winter, earning figures of 76, 84, and 83 in his last three dirt starts. His form was less-than-stellar on grass, but he should like a return to the brown stuff. Not only that, he’s a first-time gelding, so you can expect further improvement. At a 6/1 morning line, I’ll go with him.

The 8, Chocolate Wildcat, narrowly missed in his first start off a long layoff last out, and now makes his debut for the Jamie Ness barn. He’s a must-use in any multi-race bet. The 1, Splitter, finally broke his maiden in his last race, and steadily runs figures in the mid-70s.

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Race 9: Claiming $20,000 (n/w3L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 5- Indian Chaser (4/1)
  2. 3- Too Hollywood (7/2)
  3. 8- Archer Queen (5/1)

The 5, Indian Chaser, appears the best of a wide-open group. She has been consistent all season, with three thirds and a fourth from four starts this year at Monmouth. Her figures are among the best in the field, earning a 75, 79, and 74 in the field. Trainer Gerald Bennett is also a strong 20% first off the claim. I’m a bit leery of her jockey downgrade to Carlos Olivero, and her “third-itis,” but she’s nonetheless a strong contender.

The 3, Too Hollywood, has the most early speed, and strong figures in the upper 70s. She’ll be trying to take this field gate-to-wire, just like she did two starts back. The 8, Archer Queen, has been running well all season, but has consistently left herself with too much to do late. Unless Abel Castellano decides to keep her closer to the pace today, I fear she’ll come up short yet again.

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Race 10: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, NJ-bred, 1 Mile

  1. 1- Rmilliondollarbaby (7/2)
  2. 5- Groovy Dancer (3/1)
  3. 3- Goldiebuxx (7/2)

The 1, Rmilliondollarbaby, is a standout in here. On the surface, her last race was not that great, finishing a dismal third against these same horses. However, she still earned a 73 figure there, best in the field. Going beyond that, her other recent dirt figures include an 86 and a 77, which would dominate this bunch. She’s been working strongly to prepare for this race, her first in two months, and Ben Perkins is a respectable 18% with horses off that kind of layoff. She’s much the best.

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Race 11: Blue Sparkler Stakes, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)

  1. 8- Joya Real (3/1)
  2. 4- Aquinnah (4/1)
  3. 3- Knit One Purr Too (4/1)

It’s a respectable bunch of nine that has assembled for Saturday’s stakes race. I’ll try the 8, Joya Real, to get the job done. She was most recently third in the Klassy Briefcase Stakes, well beaten by the freakish Lady Shipman, who is not here today. Before that, she narrowly missed versus better in the Very One Stakes at Pimlico and the Turf Amazon Stakes at Parx. Now, she gets class relief, facing what is essentially a high-class allowance field. Her Brisnet figures are all in the high 80s to mid 90s range, which should be enough to win it.

The 3, Knit One Purr Too, has a surplus of early speed, and ran a strong third in the Brandywine at Indiana in her last race. That one was her first start in two months; further improvement is possible. The 4, Aquinnah, was dull in the Klassy Briefcase last out, but had shown strong form before then.

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Race 12: Maiden Claiming $10,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

  1. 6- Caroline’s Comedy (3/1)
  2. 7- Lili St. Cyr (6/1)
  3. 2- O’Lucey (4/1)

I’ll wrap up the Saturday card with the 6, Caroline’s Comedy. Last time out, she was a solid third at this level, holding the lead until late. She’s the only horse in the field to run above 60 who has run recently and is not a chronic loser. With a field like this, that should be a winning formula.

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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.