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 the first day of Labor Day weekend in Oceanport, with eleven races scheduled for Saturday’s program. The headliner is the Boiling Springs Stakes, with ten three-year-old fillies set to travel 1 1/8 miles on the grass.

Race 1: Claiming $7,500 (n/w3L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

  1. 1- Miss Amalita (5/2)
  2. 6- More Than Special (2/1)
  3. 5- Charlie’s Rainbow (7/2)

I’ll begin the Saturday card with the Delaware invader, the 1, Miss Amalita. Her sprinting figures have been strong, earning Brisnet figures of 82 and 75 in her last two starts going six furlongs or less. The respectable Daniel Centeno takes the ride on this shipper, and trainer William Morey, based at Delaware, hits at a strong 21% with shippers on the year, and is 22% with his horses in general. Being an unfamiliar name to Monmouth bettors, he may be overlooked. I’m not overlooking Miss Amalita in here, however.

The 6, More Than Special, is consistently the fastest member of the field, earning a 79, 76, and 76 in her last three. However, she’s been second in her last four starts, and is inevitably going to be overbet. She has “sucker horse” written all over her. The 5, Charlie’s Rainbow, has won two races in gate-to-wire style this season, and will hope to carry her blazing early speed all the way around the track. Her early pace numbers are the best in the field by far, so there’s a chance she’ll pull that off. If nothing else, she’ll give her backers a thrill.


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Race 2: Claiming $5,000 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

  1. 2- Action Tonight (3/1)
  2. 4- Gallant Lady (4/1)
  3. 3- Alice and Trixie (5/2)

The 2, Action Tonight, looks the most likely to round out the double. She’s coming into this race on an improving pattern, with her figures steadily increasing in each race. Her last figure, a 73, is the best last-out figure in the race by six points. In that last race, she was chasing the aforementioned Charlie’s Rainbow, who ran the rest of the field off their feet. Even so, she was still second in that race, 4 ½ lengths clear of the rest of the pack. There’s no one in here as fast as Charlie’s Rainbow, so the odds of her being outrun like that are unlikely here. If anything, the way the pace looks to set up sees her taking advantage of some tired contenders in front of her.

The 4, Gallant Lady, was only ½ length behind Action Tonight in her last outing, and has a sharp three furlong workout in preparation for here. The 3, Alice and Trixie, has worked well off that dull last race, and is trained by the always-dangerous Jorge Navarro.


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Race 3: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs

  1. 2- Torment (7/2)
  2. 7- Joni’s Wildcat (9/5)
  3. 8- Bluegrass Demon (4/1)

Even though the 2, Torment, has only made one dirt start in recent times, it was an impressive one. In that race, at this level at Laurel, he made a five-wide rally from the back of the pack to win at 15/1. His figure there was an 80: better than almost anyone in the field has earned recently. Trainer Patricia Farro is a solid 18% with horses making their second start under her name, to boot. In a race where no one looks particularly great, he looks the best.

The 7, Joni’s Wildcat, won at this level a few starts back, and is always good for a figure in the high 70s. That may be good enough to win this race. If you cross off the route races of the 8, Bluegrass Demon, you see a horse that’s always running strong figures for a trainer that’s 25% with shippers.

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Race 4: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, 1 Mile (Grass)

  1. 9- Brass Compass (2/1)
  2. 11- Pontius P (6/1)
  3. 8- Paddy O’Wagon (9/2)

My pick here will be the 9, Brass Compass. In his debut at Saratoga, he was bumped at the start, was rushed up to be near the lead, and kept on to finish a close sixth. He earned a figure of 73 for his troubles, which is the best figure anyone here has earned. He’s getting a major jockey upgrade to Paco Lopez, trainer Eddie Plesa is hitting at 24% with second-time starters, and he’s getting blinkers on. Perhaps most impressively, he worked five furlongs on Sunday in 1:00.2, the fastest out of 22 workers on the day, which included older horses.

The 11, Pontius P, almost wired the field in his grass debut last out at Delaware. If he draws in, he’ll be dangerous on the lead. The 8, Paddy O’Wagon, made a sharp closing rally at 5 ½ furlongs in his first race. He may enjoy a route of ground, especially being a son of noted grass router Paddy O’Prado.

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Race 5: Maiden Special Weight, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs

  1. 6- On Tenterhooks (2/1)
  2. 7- Star Actor (5/1)
  3. 1- Charlesbrecknridge (5/1)

The 6, On Tenterhooks, is a mortal lock. His last three races are the fastest of these, culminating with a field-best 87 in his last outing. That’s the best last-out figure in ten points. He also gets a jockey upgrade to the near-infallible Paco Lopez, and worked insanely well to prepare for this race, going three furlongs in :35.2 on Sunday. Don’t expect much value on him, but don’t expect him to lose, either.

The 1, Charlesbrecknridge, has been steady in terms of figures all season long, but has trouble breaking from the gate. Nonetheless, he is worth using underneath. The 7, Star Actor, is coming off two second-place finishes at the maiden claiming level, and trainer Ramon Preciado is 27% first off the claim.

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Race 6: Starter Allowance $40,000, 3yo and up, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)

  1. 8- Super Spender (3/1)
  2. 3- Very Colorful (9/2)
  3. 4- Smiling Charlie (7/2)

This race begins the Jersey Shore 6.

Looking at the first race of the sequence, the 8, Super Spender, is going to be tough to beat. His figures are superior; he’s the only one to run above an 80 in all three of his recent starts. He’s getting class relief in here, dropping down to starter allowance company from straight allowances. He does have a difficult go of it from post position 8, but his speed edge should overcome it. Uniquely, he has both the best early speed and late speed figures, meaning that he may just run this field off their feet.

The 3, Very Colorful, won at the $40,000 level here two starts back. That was one of trainer Tim Hills’s two wins at the meet. The 4, Smiling Charlie, ran well on grass at Canterbury, of all places, a while back. His recent dirt form may obscure that fact and create some value.

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Race 7: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, Fillies, 5 ½ Furlongs

  1. 3- Brandy’s Girl (7/2)
  2. 2- Exchanging Secrets (3/1)
  3. 7- Tizcara (6/1)

Only two out of the eight fillies in here have run before, and neither of them was particularly adept. As such, I’ll lean toward one of the first-time starters in here: the 3, Brandy’s Girl. She’s been working excellently for this race, including a four-furlong workout in a lightning-fast :47.2. Jockey Vincente Guidel has been hitting at a strong 16% since coming over here, and will give this filly a five-pound weight allowance. Now, the dominant team of Eddie Plesa and Paco Lopez does have a horse in here, in the 2, Exchanging Secrets, but Brandy’s Girl is just as good as her on paper, and won’t take nearly as much money. I’m inclined to have Brandy’s Girl on top because of that.

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Race 8: Claiming $16,000, 3yo and up, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)

  1. 5- Starship Wildcat (3/1)
  2. 6- Dedicated to Bob (3/1)
  3. 4- Jersey Jet (6/1)

My pick here is the king of Monmouth Park grass sprints: the 5, Starship Wildcat. He’s already won twice at this level this season, against similar concept. His last out figure was a 92, the best among anyone in here, and the best anyone’s run in their last three. He’s in line for a third win this year at this level and distance.

The 6, Dedicated to Bob, has been in the mix in all of his starts this season: four wins, one win, and two seconds. All his figures are competitive, so he’s a contender for an exotic spot, at least. The 4, Jersey Jet, has blistering early speed, an inside post, and some sharply improved figures. He’s got as much going for him as he can possibly have.

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Race 9: Claiming $16,000, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs

  1. 6- Blue Chips Only (4/1)
  2. 4- Gypsy Baron (5/2)
  3. 2- Where’s That Cat (3/1)

It’s a wide-open field of claimers that have assembled here. My play will be the 6, Blue Chips Only. In his Monmouth Park debut last time out, he rallied to get up for a solid second. He earned an 89 in that race, the second-best last-out figure. The only horse to earn a higher number, the 1, Derby Gold, is shipping out of Parx, the land of high purses, and dropping in for a tag after being in for allowance company. All of those are red flags. Blue Chips Only also turned in a solid workout a few days before this spot, suggesting he’s staying in top form and is poised to run a big one.

The 4, Gypsy Baron, has run strong figures all year, but has not had a victory under his belt, save for an easy gate-to-wire win routing. The 2, Where’s That Cat, is coming off two easy wins, without pace pressure. His late speed is lacking, so he’ll hope to get out early and not look back.

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Race 10: G3 Boiling Springs Stakes, 3yo, Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Grass)

  1. 3- Strict Compliance (3/1)
  2. 9- Isabella Sings (9/2)
  3. 10- Bishop’s Pond (6/1)

This year’s running of the Boiling Springs drew a competitive field of ten fillies. The clear choice in here is the 3, Strict Compliance. She’s an unusual case in here: a stakes winning filly, and the winner of a competitive stakes, to boot. She took the Penn Oaks back in May, then made a big rally from last to finish fourth in the Belmont Oaks. She regressed to a flat third in the Lake Placid Stakes last out, but still earned an impressive 91, and had earned a 96 in that Belmont Oaks effort. Just to bolster her case even further, she’s trained by Chad Brown, who is near-infallible (8-for-19) with his Monmouth invaders. Look for her to be near the back of the pack for most of the race, then make one big move to win it.

The 9, Isabella Sings, won the Little Silver Stakes here at Monmouth last start in gate-to-wire fashion. She has enough late speed that she can sustain another front-running bid. If she can get enough of a jump on the rest, watch out. The 10, Bishop’s Pond, is the other Brown horse in here, and is coming off two straight wins on the NYRA circuit. She’s worth a look at a 6/1 morning line.

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Race 11: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 5 ½ Furlongs

  1. 6- La Chuchi (3/1)
  2. 5- So Frank (10/1)
  3. 4- Always Dear (4/1)

The 6, La Chuchi, is about as “shore” of a thing as you’ll find in this type of race. She’s the only one in here who’s run figures above 70 in all three of her recent races. No one else in the field has shown that kind of speed or that kind of consistency. Her late speed figures are also terrific, and she’s getting a major jockey upgrade, from Tommy Turner to Daniel Centeno. If you can get near her 3/1 morning line at this windows, consider yourself lucky.

The 5, So Frank, made up some good ground in her last outing, and is worth a long look at potentially fat odds. The 4, Always Dear, was bet to favoritism in her last race at this level, but unseated the rider after clipping heels. Beforehand, her form was respectable, and her worktab suggests that she’s recovered from that mishap.

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John Piassek is a 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.