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 Jersey-bred day at Monmouth Park: Ten races for horses bred in the Garden State are on tap, headlined by three stakes races.

Before we get any further here, I would like to congratulate Trevor McCarthy, who departs for Laurel in second place in the jockey standings, with 51 wins. Also, good luck to Monmouth-based trainer Liam Benson at Churchill Downs, where he’ll saddle Tyro Stakes winner Expected Ruler in the Iroquois Stakes.

Race 1: Maiden Claiming $35,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, NJ-bred, 6 Furlongs

  1. 6- Banana Anna (4/1)
  2. 4- Hazy Daisy (3/1)
  3. 7- Easy Landing (6/1)

A less-than-impressive field lines up here to begin the program. My pick here will be the 6, Banana Anna. She’s lightly raced, having made only two starts, but they were fairly impressive, earning Brisnet figures of 65 and 60 in each of them. In her most recent go, she broke slowly, was rushed up on the pace, and faded to finish a fairly close fourth. The second-place finisher in that race, D’Wild Kiss, came back to win her next effort, while the third-place finisher there, Easy Landing, finished a decent second in her last race. In a bunch like this, it’s hard to make a rock-solid case for anyone, but Banana Anna looks the best.

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Race 2: Claiming $7,500, 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 6 Furlongs

  1. 6- One For Don (5/2)
  2. 1- OK Lefty (3/1)
  3. 8- What the Chub (5/1)

I’ll go with the 6, One For Don. He ran a huge race, winning a speed duel that saw him go in :22.1 for the opening quarter, and an impressive :45.1 for a half, against the good claimer Hold Everything. Even better, he was claimed out of that race by the impressive Jorge Navarro, who hits at 39% first time off the claim. When you add this to One For Don’s blazing early speed and fast figures, he figures to be the most likely one.

The 1, OK Lefty, has the highest last-out figure, an 84, and rallied from the back of the pack last out. If he gets a fast pace to run at here—which is very possible—he’s dangerous. The 8, What the Chub, wired a field of claimers last out, and can easily do it again here. His only deterrent is his outside post.

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Race 3: Maiden Special Weight, 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 6 Furlongs

  1. 5- Jersey Blues (1/1)
  2. 6- Don’s Marsh (9/2)
  3. 2- PJ’s Bad Boy (5/1)

The 5, Jersey Blues, is an absolute cinch to win this race. His sprinting figures are not just better than anyone else’s in the field; they are superior. In each of his last three sprints, he’s improved his figure: peaking at an 86 last time out. Nobody else has earned better than a 77 in their entire lives, and Jersey Blues has never run worse than a 79. His late pace numbers are also superior, his average number on that front is nine points higher than that of anyone else’s. While I doubt you’ll get anything resembling value on him, he’s the likeliest winner of the season thus far.

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Race 4: Claiming $12,500, 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 6- Precious Paula (4/1)
  2. 4- Northwood Bully (5/2)
  3. 3- George Cross (3/1)

In contrast to the last race, this one is a wide-open bunch, full of horses who can win it. My pick here will be the mare going against the males: the 6, Precious Paula. Her last race was extremely dull; she trailed throughout and showed no iota of competitiveness. However, in her two workouts since that race, she’s been working strongly, indicating that whatever may have been bothering her then is no longer a factor, and she’s ready to run a peak race. Her peak would probably win this one; her last two races earned an 81 and a 79, both among the top in the field.

The 4, Northwood Bully, ran a sharply improved race last out, but wound up being disqualified for interference in the stretch. The 3, George Cross, rallied on to be a respectable second last time out, and has similar figures as Precious Paula. He also picks up the riding of Nik Juarez, who jumps off Precious Paula to ride him.

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Race 5: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, NJ-bred, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 9- Rmilliondollarbaby (7/2)
  2. 6- Groovy Dancer (4/1)
  3. 2- Golden Earrings (5/1)

I’ll go with the 9, Rmilliondollarbaby. Her last two dirt races were strong, finishing third both times. Last out, she narrowly missed at this level, rallying from fifth to miss by half a length. Her figure there was a 75, which may be good enough to win this race, and earned an 86 three starts back, which definitely would be. Her late speed’s strong, and she has a respectable jockey and trainer.

The 6, Groovy Dancer, won’t stop finishing in second, finishing in that spot a remarkable five times in a row. I can’t pick her to win under those circumstances, but she’s fast enough to warrant a mention. The 2, Golden Earrings, broke her maiden strongly two races back, and trainer Pat McBurney is 16% with horses stretching out. She’s making her first start at a route, however, so I cannot back her with a large amount of enthusiasm.

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Race 6: Claiming $20,000 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 1 Mile (Grass)

  1. 10- Mr. Spaceman (5/2)
  2. 2- Don’t Stop Back (6/1)
  3. 7- Lucky Balladier (4/1)

My pick here will be the 10, Mr. Spaceman. He’s only raced twice on the grass, but both efforts were respectable. In his latest effort, most notably, he made a bold three-wide move on the turn versus similar, only to lose by a half-length. He earned a figure of 80 there, better than anyone in this field has ever earned. If he can improve off that figure—and being fresh off eight days rest, he certainly can—he’ll be dangerous.

The 2, Don’t Stop Back, has shown similar aptitude in the past, but he’s coming off a long layoff, and has never gone beyond 5 1/2 furlongs. This field is marginal enough that that may not matter, but I’d be wary. The 6, Lucky Balladier, broke his maiden over the Monmouth grass three starts back, and has always run competitive figures.

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Race 7: New Jersey Breeders’ Handicap, 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 6 Furlongs

  1. 2- Saucy Don (3/1)
  2. 5- Loverbil (3/1)
  3. 1- Green Gratto (5/2)

Seven of the very best Jersey-bred sprinters will line up here. My choice will be the best one of them all: the 2, Saucy Don. He’s already won two Jersey-bred stakes this year: the Dan Horn, on the grass, and the John Reilly, where he upset heavily favored Rainbow Heir. He was competing against open company on the grass for a while, and it didn’t really work out. Now, he returns back to the Jersey-bred level, where he sports some of the best figures in the field, plus an abundance of late speed. Look for him to take home his third stakes title of the season, and establish himself as the king of the Jersey-breds.

The 5, Loverbil, has won three races here at Monmouth this season, and has been working like fire for this spot. He’s very live. The 1, Green Gratto, was second in the Carter earlier in the year, and has earned 95s in back-to-back races.

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Race 8: Jersey Girl Handicap, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, NJ-bred, 1 1/16 Miles

  1. 5- Amblin Easy (3/1)
  2. 3- Stiffed (4/5)
  3. 6- Maybe Tonight (9/2)

This is a two-horse race. The 3, Stiffed, defeated open company in the Monmouth Beach Stakes earlier in the year, and was second in the Molly Pitcher behind the respectable Got Lucky. Last time she ran in a route, the 5, Amblin Easy, demolished a field of similar runners. Where to turn?

Based on the morning line, it’s clear that the 5, Amblin Easy, offers the superior value. She’s listed at 3/1 there, while Stiffed is a prohibitive 4/5. Amblin Easy also has the edge of early speed, which she has used to score prior victories. She can go out to on or near the front, hang around while the rest of the competition fades, and hold on while Stiffed runs out of time to make a rally. Amblin Easy may not necessarily be the most likely winner, but based on expected odds, it would be the height of absurdity to bet Stiffed to win.

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Race 9: Charles Hesse Handicap, 3yo and up, NJ-bred, 1 1/16 Miles

  1. 8- Chublicious (9/2)
  2. 2- Javerre (3/1)
  3. 4- Fuzzy Muzzle (6/1)

It’s the feature race on Jersey-bred day, as nine top Jersey-breds will try routing here. A lot of these horses are sprinters hoping to stretch out. The 8, Chublicious, is the intriguing exception. Two starts back, he ran in a Jersey-bred n/w2x allowance, and won, earning a figure of 94. That’s one of the best anyone’s earned at any distance, let alone a route. In a field full of unproven horses, Chublicious has been decent at 1 1/16 miles, winning two times while going this far. He’ll be my pick.

The 2, Javerre, has earned up to a 102 in recent times, but hasn’t run since June. The 4, Fuzzy Muzzle, rallied strongly in a grass sprint last out, suggesting that he may take to a longer distance. He’s unproven routing on dirt recently, so he’s still a bit of a wild card.

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

  1. 3- Lizzie Quinn (9/2)
  2. 2- Hay Hay Sadie Rae (9/2)
  3. 9- Channel Surfing (3/1)

The finale is standard fare for Jersey-bred maiden claimers: a completely indecipherable race. My pick here will be the 3, Lizzie Quinn. She improved in her last race, running third at this level. She ran a career-best figure there, of 60, which is also the second-best last-out number in this field. Furthermore, her late speed is the best in the field by a long way, and she gets a jockey upgrade to Abel Castellano.

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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.