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

Twelve races are on tap for Saturday at Monmouth Park. They’re highlighted by the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, which drew a field of eleven. The headliners there are Indiana Oaks winner High Dollar Woman, and rising Jersey-bred star Love Came to Town.

Race 1: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, Fillies, 6 Furlongs

  1. 3- Cassini (3/1)
  2. 7- Spring Fragrance (5/2)
  3. 1- Registrada (8/1)

This is a two-horse race through and through: the 3, Cassini, and the 7, Spring Fragrance, leap out over the rest of the field. It’s also very difficult to split the two. They’re being ridden by the two best jockeys on the circuit, in Paco Lopez and Abel Castellano. Their trainers, Kelly Breen and Todd Pletcher, are both very astute horsemen. Their worktabs are similar. How do you choose?

I will lean toward Cassini, although I am not certain she’s the most likely winner. My feeling is based on the near-certainty that Spring Fragrance will be overbet, as she’s coming from the Todd Pletcher barn. That being said, the betting action will tell the story of who’s the most likely winner. Don’t necessarily blindly bet my top picks here. Watch the board.

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Race 2: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 1- Awesome Heart (5/2)
  2. 8- Pac Yer Tack (4/1)
  3. 2- Rasta Friend (7/2)

The 1, Awesome Heart, looks like a standout in here. When one crosses out his unimpressive grass races, his form on dirt is very strong. His last three brisnet figures on dirt are 80, 79, and 83. He’s the only one in the field to run that fast consistently. His late speed numbers, while mostly earned in sprints, are also the best by a long way. Trainer Bruce Alexander is also one of the most quietly astute trainers at Monmouth: he’s only had ten starters this season, but has won with four of them. He’s also an impressive 19% transitioning from grass to dirt.

The 8, Pac Yer Tack, finished a respectable second at this level last time out. However, this will be his third start in three weeks. Unless he’s a Standardbred in disguise, one must wonder if he’ll be a bit fatigued. The 2, Rasta Friend, has plentiful early speed, and is being ridden by the hot apprentice Vicente Guidel.

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Race 3: Maiden Claiming $22,000, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs

  1. 2- Monkey Business (9/5)
  2. 1- Greed is Good (6/1)
  3. 8- Dothraki Warrior (3/1)

While I am not expecting a ton of value on him, the 2, Monkey Business, is your most probable winner. In his last start, at the same level, he ducked in at the start, costing him precious position. He still rallied to finish a respectable second, earning a sharp figure of 73. He worked like a monster on August 11 to prepare for this spot, and as long as he breaks cleanly (no guarantee), he should win this one for fun. Of course, he went off at 3/5 in his last start, which is not a price I would recommend taking on him.

The 1, Greed is Good, has a lot of early speed and the inside post, and has narrowly missed twice this year. Trainer Russell Cash, however, is an ugly 0-35 at the meet. The 8, Dothraki Warrior, was a good third in his first start off a long layoff last out. Improvement off that last-out figure of 73 is definitely possible.

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Race 4: Maiden Claiming $30,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile (Grass)

  1. 5- Archemist (2/1)
  2. 10- Durant (3/1)
  3. 2- Shine on Erin (12/1)

My pick is the 5, Archemist. She’s been improving steadily with every start, peaking with a 72 in her last race. She narrowly missed in that start, making a rally from the back of the pack to lose a three-horse photo. As long as she’s more forwardly positioned in this race—and having sharp rider Trevor McCarthy makes that more probable—she will be dangerous in here.

The 10, Durant, has the best last-out figure of 74, and steps down from the maiden special weight level. The 2, Shine on Erin, has competitive figures, however, she sports an 0-13 lifetime record.

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Race 5: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 3- Wedding Savior (8/5)
  2. 1- Untamed (5/1)
  3. 4- Better Man (5/2)

I’ll go with the 3, Wedding Savior, to close the early pick 5. He’s getting some class relief in here, moving down from the $10,000 level. His last three figures are all above 80, establishing them as the best in the field by a long way. He’s got the training of the superb Jorge Navarro, and the quietly great riding of Matthew Rispoli. While I expect Navarro’s name to lower his odds, Wedding Savior looks like the most likely here.

The 1, Untamed, made a strong rally to get up for fourth in his last race. His figures make him a solid contender for exotic spots. The 4, Better Man, was an alarmingly dull fourth in his last race. His form before that race was great, however, so it remains to be seen if that last effort was an aberration, or a new normal.


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Race 6: Claiming $12,500, 3yo and up, 1 Mile (Grass)

  1. 6- Exclusive Strike (5/2)
  2. 3- Lawyer Jim (9/2)
  3. 1- Step Brother (6/1)

It’s an unusual sight in this one: a field of 12 in a grass race. Happily, the rail is not out today, meaning there can be full fields on the grass.

Anyway, it’s hard to look past the 6, Exclusive Strike. He’s shipping in from Saratoga, where he was facing much better. He ran much better than anyone else in here, too, earning an 82, 85, and 83 in his last three. He’ll have a jockey upgrade to Paco Lopez, and trainer Jason Servis is an impressive 26% with shippers.

The 3, Lawyer Jim, ran a heroic race last out, rallying from eighteen lengths back to miss by a tough half-length. He tends to come up short in his rallies, however, so he may be a better play in the exotics. The 1, Step Brother, also rallied strongly in that race, and has a shot to get in the money at a price.


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Race 7: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 9- We B Jammin (5/2)
  2. 7- Cheddar Chub (3/1)
  3. 3- Social Network (10/1)

In his last start, the 9, We B Jammin, proved himself at a route. Breaking from post 10, he got hung wide down the backstretch while on the pace. Despite all that, he hung in strongly to miss the victory by a neck, while earning a figure of 81. Now, he’s in a race with much less pace pressure: only Scobeyville, the 1, possesses nearly as much early speed. He should have things easier on the lead, which will likely lead him to the winner’s circle.

The 7, Cheddar Chub, rallied from the back in that race to finish fourth, and has been steady at this level all year. He’s a must-use underneath. The 3, Social Network, has shown ability to run figures in the upper-70s, and could surprise in here.

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Race 8: Maiden Claiming $20,000, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 6- Paper Street (6/1)
  2. 3- Beau Jangles (4/1)
  3. 7- Powerline (5/2)

My pick here will be the 6, Paper Street. He’s been decent in his two grass races this season, most recently rallying from the back to score second. His two figures have been 72 and 70, respectively, making him one of the fastest horses in the field. At a 6/1 morning line, he’s worth a shot in a field like this.

The 3, Beau Jangles, has been a paragon of consistency recently: he’s finished third four straight times. There’s not much reason for me to believe that today will be any different, but he nonetheless merits some respect. The 7, Powerline, checked while in the midst of a rally last out, and faded to finish last. With a cleaner set-up here, he’ll be dangerous.

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Race 9: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w3x), 3yo and up, 1 Mile

  1. 5- Early Entry (7/2)
  2. 3- Mr. Viber (4/1)
  3. 6- Irish You Well (3/1)

It looks as if the 5, Early Entry, really broke out in his last start. He was running well in sprints beforehand, but was stretched out to a route last out. At 15/1 odds, he sat off the pace and grinded past some solid n/w2x allowance horses to win it. He’s coming back in a route here, after earning a figure of 94 in that route bow. That’s one of the best figures among anyone here in terms of routes, and he’s got a great chance to duplicate it. Hopefully, there will be value.

The 3, Mr. Viber, won at six furlongs in his last start, his first in over a year. One wonders if this is the race his connections had in mind, and had designed his last effort as a prep. If so, that 95 he earned is promising and may be good enough to win; he’s also got route experience in the past. The 6, Irish You Well, is 3-for-4 lifetime at Monmouth, but figures to be overbet here.

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Race 10: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 6- Dynaformersrequest (6/1)
  2. 5- Hello Abraxon (6/1)
  3. 2- Call Wil (5/1)

I’ll go with the Maryland invader: the 6, Dynaformersrequest. He’s only raced twice, but both of those starts were strong efforts. He’s earned an 88 and an 81 in his career, with that 88 coming in his first race off a seven-week layoff. In that race, at Laurel, he had to close from sixteen lengths out of it, but still managed a solid second. He gets a jockey upgrade to Trevor McCarthy, and has the strongest late pace numbers in the race.

The 5, Hello Abraxon, narrowly missed in two consecutive starts at Penn National. He, too, will get an upgrade to Nik Juarez. The 2, Call Wil, scored a front-running score at the claiming level last time out, but will probably not get as favorable a pace as he did in that race.

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Race 11: G3 Monmouth Oaks, 3yo, Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles

  1. 4- Delightful Joy (5/1)
  2. 10- Love Came to Town (15/1)
  3. 2- Curlish Figure (12/1)

A competitive field of eleven has assembled for this race. My pick looks like a very promising filly: the 4, Delightful Joy.  Just being trained by Chad Brown—who is an insane 7-15 at the meet—and being ridden by Paco Lopez would usually be enough to merit a bet. However, her last race at Belmont was impressive, winning a n/w1x allowance by a length after being wide the whole way. The horse she beat by a length there, Mei Ling, was six lengths clear of the third place finisher that day. She later returned to win at that level at Saratoga next out. The 93 earned by Delightful Joy there is one of the best last-out figures in the field, and at a 5/1 morning line, she’s worth a shot.

The 10, Love Came to Town, has won three races in a row, two of them against Jersey-breds here at Monmouth. All of her races have been fast, and she’s a terrific bet at 15/1. The 2, Curlish Figure, has won two races at Delaware by a combined total of 22 lengths. She’s not impossible here, either.

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Race 12: Claiming $7,500 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles

  1. 10- Gallant Pursuit (3/1)
  2. 7- I Will (5/2)
  3. 12- My Uncle Sam (4/1)

I will try to close the show with the 10, Gallant Pursuit. After numerous tries on grass, he switched to dirt last time out, and ran a solid fourth. He earned a figure of 71 there, one of the best in the field. Although not entirely proven on dirt, that last race suggests that he’s got some ability on dirt, and that should carry him to victory here. Not to mention, he’s getting a jockey upgrade to Abel Castellano, and trainer Jane Cibelli is 17% first off the claim.

The 7, I Will, was a close third at this level last out, and has been consistently in the low 70s this season. He must be respected. The 12, My Uncle Sam, is consistently one of the fastest members of the field, but unfortunately drew the extreme outside spot. Breaking from that post last out, he was an ineffective eighth. However, that 72 he earned there may yet be good enough to win here. We’ll see.

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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.