Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Sunday, July 3, 2016
On Sunday, we’re headed back out to Monmouth Park where we’ve got FREE PICKS & ANALYSIS from John Piassek (@theyreoff)!
We thank John for taking the time to put together these selections for us today. His picks and analysis at Monmouth Park will featured on DanonymousRacing.com every Sunday this summer. We encourage you to give John a follow on Twitter – he’s one of the sharpest and hardest working young handicappers in racing.
Take it away, John…
Don’t let the rest of the United Nations day card get you down. Despite a $200,000 purse cut, this year’s United Nations Stakes drew a solid field of ten runners, including the top three finishers from the grade 1 Man O’War Stakes at Belmont Park. It’s a great betting race, and we’ll get to it in a moment. In the meantime…
Race 1: Claiming $16,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, NJ-bred, 5 Furlongs (Grass)
You don’t see many Jersey-bred races scheduled for the grass, but that’s just what we have here. Evidently, the racing secretary dug deep for an interesting race, and the race managed to draw a field of eight. Not shabby.
My pick among this bunch is the 5, Kellyslittlesecret. She’s taking a big drop down from open n/w1x races, where she finished a non-threatening eighth last time out. To illustrate the class divide between that race and todays, she still earned an 80 brisnet figure despite being beaten five lengths. That’s far superior to the ability of anyone else in the field, many of whom have a maximum ability in the mid-70s range. She’s cutting back further in distance from 5 ½ furlongs, after going 1 1/16 miles two races ago, which should be more to her benefit.
The 1, Twist and Turn, has only run on the grass once, but it was a fairly impressive effort. Going five furlongs at Gulfstream Park West (nee Calder) back in November, she won at the n/w2L claiming level by half a length, running a fairly impressive 76. She has a lot of early speed and the inside post, and has the ability to command the pace if she wants to. If she does, watch out. The 3, Too Hollywood, was fourth last out at the $16,000 claiming level, and has run in the low-to-mid 70s three times during the meet. She figures to sit off of the early lead.
1- Twist and Turn
3- Too Hollywood
Race 2: Maiden Claiming $12,500, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs
Betting horses taking a big class drop first off the layoff is not exactly my idea of fun. In many cases, they are sucker bets. However, for the 2X, Spurs N Bows, to lose this race, he’d have to regress by a lot off of his two-year-old form. In four races last year, he never ran a figure below 63, while earning a 70 in his last two starts of the year. By contrast, the best race anyone else in the field has run on dirt in their whole lives is a 62. So for Spurs N Bows to lose this race, he’d either have to run his worst race ever, or one of his rivals would have to run their best race ever. It is true that Spurs N Bows has not raced since last October, when he was third for a $50,000 tag at Belmont. Still, he’s been working steadily for the last seven weeks, and as long as he runs even semi-respectably, he will win going away.
The 3, Next Cowboy Up, has been improving in each of his three races at the meet, peaking at a 54 last out, when he was fourth at the $10,000 level. He’s getting a two-pound weight break, and gets a jockey upgrade from Winston Kay to Jose Ferrer. The 1, Sahara Goal, showed some brief speed in his debut after rushing up after an awkward start. He’s got some room to improve in his second-ever race.
2- Inanewyorkminute/2X- Spurs N Bows
3- Next Cowboy Up
1- Sahara Goal/1A- Powered By Sun
Race 3: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
An interesting note about today’s card: for the most part, the undercard races are of fairly good quality. Unfortunately, the fields aren’t very big. This race is emblematic of that: it’s a good group of allowance horses in this race, but there’s only six of them.
Anyway, my pick among them is the 5, Natural Order. Last time out, it was his first race off a seven-week layoff, and he ran a good race, finishing second by 2 ¼ lengths. The horse who finished ahead of him, Riviere Du Loup, is entered in the United Nations Stakes later on the program. His figure there was an 88, the best last-out number in the race. Over the winter in Florida, he won two races, and finished second in two more, running figures in the 80s every time. It’s been six weeks since that last race, but has been working well at Saratoga getting ready, and gets a rider upgrade to Joe Bravo. He looks to be the best in here.
The 4, Weekend Express, was third at this level last out, after flattening out on the turn. He’ll hope to save some more ground here and duplicate one of his recent races, which includes three races in a row with a figure of at least 85. The 1, Sly Tom, ran figures in the 90s last year, and ran well in his second race of the layoff last out. Running against n/w3L claimers at Belmont, he battled throughout the stretch to lose by a neck. It’s an encouraging sign that Irad Ortiz will pick up the mount.
5- Natural Order
4- Weekend Express
1- Sly Tom
Race 4: Claiming $12,500 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs
I look to the outside for my selection, and go with the 6, Zachary’s Pitch. He’s run well in his last two dirt races, breaking his maiden back in February at Gulfstream Park, and running fourth at this level in March. Trainer Eddie Broome claimed him two races ago, and he’s two-for-five in recent times with a horse second off the claim. Not to mention, Monmouth riding legend Paco Lopez picks up the mount. He’s got a lot of early speed, so expect Paco to gun his mount from the outside and try to take them gate-to-wire.
The 5, Rocket Man Richie, also has a lot of early speed, and breaks directly to the inside of Zachary’s Pitch. He was second last time out after rating off the pace. He’s been improving steadily since his 2016 debut, and should provide some pace pressure to Zachary’s Pitch. The main downfall is the trainer: William Hogan is 0-for-42 in 2016 so far. The 4, Big Talkin, broke his maiden for $10,000 last out, winning by 6 ½ lengths. He figures to rate just off the speedsters, and may be able to benefit should the top two wear each other down on the front end.
6- Zachary’s Pitch
5- Rocket Man Richie
4- Big Talkin
Race 5: Claiming $16,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
My choice among these claimers is the 7, Guchi Gold. She’s run two big races over this track so far this meet, winning last out at this exact level with a figure of 81. In the race before that, she rallied from the back of the pack at the $12,500 level and miss by a half-length, earning an 80. That two-race combo is among the best anyone’s run recently. She figures to sit just off the leaders in this race, and has a good enough late kick that she’ll get a big jump on the others with competitive late pace figures. If she can replicate her race last out, she’ll make it two wins in a row.
The 3, Rhythm Queen, ran some fantastic races over the winter at Gulfstream, earning figures as high as 91. Her two races since spring started have been disappointing, however. Most recently, she lost at this level at 3/5 at Parx, running a low 69. It’s entirely possible that she’ll regain her old stride, especially with Javier Castellano riding, but I wouldn’t take low odds on it. The 1, Red Letter, has run at least a 75 in four out of her last five races, and has some strong early pace figures and the inside post position. She could be dangerous if sent to the front.
7- Guchi Gold
3- Rhythm Queen
1- Red Letter
Race 6: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs
I’ll pick the 3, Gryvon, among these allowance sprinters. He won at this level last out, winning by ½ a length and running a strong 94. That race was hardly a fluke; he’s run at least a 90 in four out of his last five races. He has the Jorge Navarro-Jonathan Gonzales team training and riding, which is always a huge edge. If he can sit off pace and wait for the front-runners to tire, it will be the key to a victory.
The 5, Prudhoe Bay, won at the $16,000 level last time out, battling on the pace and drawing away to earn a strong figure of 96. His only downfalls are his jockey, the inexperienced-this-year Angel Moreno, and his lack of works since that big last race. The 1, Easy to Say, is a bit of a wild card in here. He showed some promise last year over the Monmouth track, winning a n/w1x allowance by six lengths and running a 94. However, he hasn’t been seen since last June, when he was sixth against similar horses at Belmont. He’s got great early speed and the inside post, makes his first start for the dangerous Jason Servis barn, and will be tough if he can bounce back off the long layoff easily. While I wouldn’t bet him to win, he must be respected.
5- Prudhoe Bay
1- Easy to Say
Race 7: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w3x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
The late pick 4 begins with a filly who, in my estimation, is a standout. The 2, Tela, is a very consistent sort, having run between 85 and 90 in each of her last six races. Those are easily the best in the race, and she’s able to run them consistently. Javier Castellano picks up the mount, and she’s been tearing up the worktab at Fair Hill. Most recently, she blazed four furlongs in 48.2 seconds, suggesting that she’s razor-sharp despite not having raced since Keeneland in April. As long as she can duplicate one of those last six races, she’ll find herself in the winner’s circle.
The 5, Bobbi Grace, ran figures in the 90s last fall, but was a dull sixth while going 5 ½ furlongs in her lone start of 2016 so far. It’ll be a tough task to run that figure back in her second start in six months, but she’s trained by the capable Tom Proctor, who’s already had two winners on the grass this meet. He’s also 19% with horses off a 46-90 day layoff. The 6, Royal Jewely, takes a big drop in class, having run in stakes company in each of her last two grass races. She ran at least an 85 in each of those, so she ran well despite the distant finishes. A drop in class like this may be what she needs, but she’ll have to be kept closer to the pace than usual.
5- Bobbi Grace
6- Royal Jewely
Race 8: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w1x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile 70 Yards
The 3, Unbridled Mo, looked promising when breaking her maiden last out. Running over this track, she broke slowly and was far behind the leaders early on, but managed to rally from behind and win by 1 ½ lengths, earning an 86. It was only her second career race, and she improved by twenty points from her debut. She’s working well since that race, turning in a string of solid four-furlong workouts that happen to mirror the way she was working before her big maiden score. We’ve got a filly who likes routing, likes the track, and should only get better. That equals a single in any multi-race bets.
The 1, Mo’ Green, was soundly beaten at this level last time out. She’s also working well coming in here, and has run up to an 81 going two turns. The 4, Liana Star, broke her maiden in an off-the-grass event last time out. She ran an 81 while going a mile and winning by seven lengths in her two-turn debut, suggesting that she may like going a longer distance. This race will be the test.
3- Unbridled Mo
1- Mo’ Green
4- Liana Star
Race 9: United Nations Stakes, 3yo and up, 1 3/8 Miles (Grass)
Ever since the race moved to Monmouth Park in 1999, the United Nations has attracted its share of great grass runners, including With Anticipation, Better Talk Now, English Channel, Presious Passion, Main Sequence, and Big Blue Kitten. There’s nobody of that caliber in Monmouth’s first grade 1 of the year, but it nonetheless drew a field of ten, many of whom have a strong case to win it.
However, my allegiances in here will be firmly with the 4, World Approval. Firstly, there is the appropriateness of a horse named World Approval winning a race like the United Nations. Secondly, he’s coming in here in great form. He missed a victory in the Woodford Turf Classic by a neck, going wide in the stretch after a big move on the far turn. His figure in there was a very impressive 101. Last time out, he led for most of the way in the Manhattan Stakes before finishing third behind the excellent Flintshire, earning a 98. He’s been running excellently against better fields than this one, and he picks up the excellent grass jockey Florent Geroux, who is a big step up from his previous jockey, Julien Leparoux. The facts are clear: World Approval is the best horse in the race, and will spoil Chad Brown’s plans to win this race for the third time in four seasons.
Speaking of Chad Brown, he has three horses in his bid to get that third United Nations victory. His best hope is the 3, Wake Forest, who won the Man O’War Stakes in his last race. Prior to that, he missed a victory in the Pan American Stakes by a head. He ran a 95 and a 97 in those two races, which are very good, but not quite up to World Approval’s level. He’s also coming off a longer layoff than World Approval, having been on the bench for almost two months. Given that Wake Forest is likely to be the favorite, based on his supposed better back-class, I can’t play him over World Approval. The 6, Triple Threat, was fifth in the Manhattan last out after breaking slowly. He’s run figures as high as 101in the past, and ran a 95 in that most recent effort. He may slip through the cracks at the windows and go off at a decent price.
4- World Approval
3- Wake Forest
6- Triple Threat
Race 10: Claiming $5,000, 3yo and up, 1 Mile 70 Yards
I’ll wrap things up with the 6, Sue Them All. He ran a big race against similar last out, rating off the leaders and pulling away to win by almost two lengths, running a big figure of 89. He’s run in the 80s pretty steadily before, so that effort was hardly out of the ordinary. He figures to cross over from the outside post and sit off the leaders, then go on by, just like last time.
The 2, How You, won at the n/w3L claiming level last out, running a strong figure of 83. Navarro and Gonzales are, as previously mentioned, a dangerous duo. The 4, Tree Fire, makes his first start since running fourth against $6,250 competition at Tampa Bay Downs. He’s run a 79 three times in a row, but earned a strong 84 while winning four races ago.
6- Sue Them All
2- How You
4- Tree Fire
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