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 hard to believe that it’s here, but it’s finally happened: the last Saturday of the 2015 Monmouth Park season is upon us. We’re going out with a bang, however. Ten races, with 105 entrants, are part of today’s card, with hardly a bad race among the bunch. It’s been fun being able to handicap Monmouth every Saturday this year. Let’s go out with some winners!

Race 1: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs

  1. 6- Money Game (5/2)
  2. 4- Boheme de Lavi (4/1)
  3. 2- Jubilant Vision (3/1)

A competitive field of six allowance filly and mare sprinters assemble to begin the card. My pick will be one of the starlets of the season: the 6, Money Game. She’s had a very good year in Jersey, with three wins from four starts here this season. Her running style is very conductive to today’s race: she tends to stalk the leaders, make her move on the far turn, and win. This race has a lot of cheap speed, which plays into Money Game’s lap. She’s much the best.

The 4, Boheme de Lavi, shows improving form coming in here, including back-to-back wins at the claiming level. Her trainer, Jorge Navarro, is always one to watch, of course. The 2, Jubilant Vision, ships in from Saratoga for the Jacobson barn, where she had shown strong form. All three of these have late speed, so expect all of them to be close to each other at the wire.

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Race 2: Maiden Claiming $10,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 10- Heady Creek (2/1)
  2. 9- Ignatius (9/2)
  3. 2- Tharyic (5/2)

If not for his post position 10, I would be advising everyone to bet everything they had on Heady Creek. As is, though, he’s still an extremely strong contender. His two dirt brisnet figures, both earned in straight maiden company, were 75 and 74. The best anyone else has earned in their last three is a 67, putting them several lengths behind him. Not only that, those figures were earned in a route, alleviating any fears of him not being able to get the distance. My only concerns about him are his outside post, and that he’s taking a drop down from a $40,000 tag all the way to $10,000. However, he’s so much better than anyone else in here, I don’t have too much doubt about him winning.

The 9, Ignatius, was a respectable third under the same conditions last time out. His figures have been slowly improving, so he may be sitting on another good try here. The 2, Tharyic, made a premature move in his last outing, but held on for a solid second. Better timing here could spell better things.

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Race 3: Claiming $30,000 (n/w3L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile (Grass)

  1. 2- Ultimate Avary (5/1)
  2. 1- Set on Salsa (6/1)
  3. 7- Ramble (2/1)

It’s a wide-open field of nine to contest this race. I wound up settling on the 2, Ultimate Avary, the Penn National invader. She’s been close in all three of her grass efforts, never missing by more than a half-length. Her figures have also been impressive, running a field-best 79 last out while breaking her n/w2 condition, and a 78 three races back. Trainer Cathal Lynch hits at an impressive 23% with shippers to boot.

The 1, Set on Salsa, earned an impressive 80 two starts back, and a 79 last time out. However, she’s been a contender in just about every race she’s run this season, and has only mustered up one victory. I’m wary. The 7, Ramble, rallied to finish a respectable third after a slow start last out at Saratoga. Her form earlier in the year would annihilate these, but the question is: can she return to it? It’s possible, as this is her second start off the layoff.

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Race 4: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile

  1. 7- Allie Sweet (7/2)
  2. 4- Traipse in Utopia (9/2)
  3. 6- Crafty Chick (3/1)

The 7, Allie Sweet, looks like the best. She easily defeated her opposition in her last two races, at Parx and Delaware. Her figures, compared to the rest of the field, look titanic, with an 82 in each of her last two races. The lightbulb appears to have gone off for her recently, and there’s no reason why she can’t run back to her last two races. She’ll be the play.

The 4, Traipse in Utopia, came in second at this level just six days ago, holding the lead at one point but losing it. She’s shown form in the past that can win it, so with a bit more patience, she’ll be worth a look. The 6, Crafty Chick, has been showing improving form in all three of her races this year, and recovered after a bad start last out to go to the lead and almost hold on.

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Race 5: Maiden Special Weight, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 4- Sixth Man (3/1)
  2. 11- Johns Kitten (7/2)
  3. 5- Stonescape (7/2)

I’ll take the 4, Sixth Man. He ran respectably in his grass debut, running loose on the lead, while setting a faster pace than he probably needed to. All things considered, however, he finished well, coming in third, earning a figure of 75. He’s got a lot of room to improve off that race, making his second grass start. As long as he doesn’t try to get too crazy on the lead again, he’ll be tough to beat.

The 11, Johns Kitten, was beginning to show improvement at Gulfstream over the winter, but hasn’t raced since March. He may need one. The 5, Stonescape, finished behind Sixth Man in his debut last out, and raced greenly down the stretch. Better behavior may be the key to an improved performance.

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Race 6: Maiden Claiming $35,000, 2yo, Fillies, NJ-bred, 5 ½ Furlongs

  1. 8- Fairest Broad (7/2)
  2. 6- Scarfire (4/1)
  3. 3- Phoenix Rising (9/2)

Ten Jersey-bred maidens begin the final Saturday pick 5 of the year. My pick here will be the 8, Fairest Broad. She ran impressively in her debut, finishing third while earning a figure of 70. With this being her second start, she’s got a chance to really step it up here. She’s also been working well to prepare for this spot, and has some of the best late speed in the bunch.

The 6, Scarfire, goes out for the Cathal Lynch stable, which hits at a remarkable 27% with first-time-starters. The 3, Phoenix Rising, exits the same maiden race as Fairest Broad, and saw a 26-point figure improvement in that race.

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

  1. 11- Lay it Down (9/2)
  2. 9- Logan Street (4/1)
  3. 1- Wild Billum (8/1)

I’ll look the outside for my selection: the 11, Lay it Down. If you toss out his dud of a race two back, in which he was vanned off, his form is the best. He’s earned above an 80 in all three recent races (again, excluding the vanned off race), including an 86 three starts back. He hasn’t raced since August 1, but trainer Jason Servis is a strong 24% with horses off a layoff. It will be Lay it Down for me here.

The 9, Logan Street, has also run figures above 80 in each of his last three starts, and gets a jockey upgrade to Nik Juarez. The 1, Wild Billum, has been running figures just a cut below the top contenders, but turned in an 84 three races back. He has a chance to sneak into the exotics at a price.

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Race 8: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, Fillies, 6 Furlongs

  1. 5- Brandy’s Girl (3/1)
  2. 7- Going Bold (4/1)
  3. 11- Astaria Street (6/1)

I picked the 5, Brandy’s Girl, to win her debut in her last race. She didn’t quite get there, but still ran a respectable third, beaten four lengths. Since that race, she’s been working very well, and gets first-time-Lasix for this go-around. The figure she earned in that first race, a 78, is the best anyone’s ever run in this field. She defeated her primary competition, the 7, Going Bold, in her last race by ¾ of a length, and none of the other rivals have shown much. Brandy’s Girl looks like she’s sitting on a big one here.

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Race 9: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)

  1. 8- Hyman Roth (6/1)
  2. 4- Mythical Man (6/1)
  3. 3- Here’s to Mike (6/1)

A wide-open field of eleven greets us in the Saturday feature. There’s a bunch of horses in the race who have run races that can win this race, but I’ll go with the most consistent member of the field: the 8, Hyman Roth. He’s run a figure of 85 in each of his last three starts, all of which may be good enough to win this race. Last out, he sat a great stalking trip, and rallied past the tiring rival in the stretch. The way the race sets up, he may get a similar trip (but not to the extent of his last race, where the leader opened up by nine lengths before fading), and earn his second consecutive victory.

The 4, Mythical Man, had been running figures close to 90 earlier in the meet, however, he dropped down to an 80 in his last race, with no apparent excuse. He’ll have to rebound to win this one. The 3, Here’s to Mike, was blocked from a possible winning move in his last outing, and ran a bigger race than his figure of 84 indicates. He may be live at a price. Watch the board.

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Race 10: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile 70 Yards

  1. 6- Rakete (5/1)
  2. 10- Foileen (10/1)
  3. 4- Better Man (4/1)

I will try the 6, Rakete, once again in the finale. Last out, he dropped much farther back than he normally is, falling more than eleven lengths out of it. Despite that, he closed the gap to miss by ¾ of a length and earn a 76, only a point lower than his normal figure of 77. Nobody else in the field is nearly as consistent as he is, meaning that as long as he runs his normal race, and is kept a tad closer to the early pace, he’ll be your winner.

The 10, Foileen, has shown improving form in his last two starts, and has an impressive workout coming into this race. At a 10/1 morning line, he is worth a look. The 4, Better Man, has been involved in every start this year, but has not won a race all season, coming in third three times. He is worth throwing in exactas and trifectas, but has a “sucker horse” tendency when it comes to the win spot. Buyer beware.

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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.