Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Sunday, September 9, 2018
It’s closing day at Monmouth Park today. There’s 13 races on the program today, headlined by a mandatory payout in the Jersey Shore 6. The first race will go off at 12:50 PM EDT.
We’re happy to have Brian Leckie (@bleck1022) providing free picks & analysis of all the action today! Brian’s a regular Monmouth handicapper, and has written about Monmouth in the past, both here and on 5minutestopost. We thank Brian for providing his analysis for us today.
Take it away, Brian! Good luck to everyone playing along!
#2 Factum’s Reward is a steadily improving 3yo that had a marked improvement going from turf to dirt last time out at this level. I’m not sure how she will handle slop, but I think she will offer some value and could surprise if she continues to move forward.
#9 Miss Loyalty draws in off the MTO list and steps down in class from 40k to 16k maiden claimers. She’s simply run faster than anyone else in the field on dirt (and in the slop). But with Paco’s recent slump at Monmouth, I’ll put her underneath. If Ferrer was aboard, she’d be the top choice.
#3 Over to You is a trifecta machine, whether over dirt or turf. But her speed figures are on the light side, and she just doesn’t seem to be improving enough compared to other contenders to suggest a win is within reach. But she does get a jockey upgrade to leading rider Jose Ferrer.
#6 Lady’s Scholar finished well near the end of her debut in a turf sprint last time, running 4th. The third-place finisher, Tuppence, scored at the same level next out. She also looked like a horse who could use more distance. The question is dirt. Eskendereya as her sire gives her some dirt influence, but the Johar dam screams turf. We shall see.
#6 She’sgotthebeat has run the fastest races on dirt as of late compared with the rest of the field. She also switches from turf to dirt and steps down in class for a similar purse.
#5 All Good Times also takes a step down in class, and she’s been facing much better than the top choice though she’s been running slower and will also be at a pace disadvantage. Both of these horses have two wins, one more than their rivals.
#7 Bamboo Garden cuts back to a mile after getting passed in the final 70 yards last time and upgrades from Fuentes to Paco Lopez, who could be the difference between a placing or an off the board finish. Though Paco, as I have said, has been in a recent slump at Monmouth.
#3 Invigorous is flattered by the winner of his debut race, Mind Control, who just took the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga. Invigorous only lost that race by 3 lengths while battling back very gamely after losing the lead. He just ran into a buzzsaw. I’m singling this horse.
#5 Boss of Bourbon St is trained by Michael Stidham, who has done quite well with 2YOs toward the end of the meet this year. The 6f distance bodes well for this horse being by Goldencents. Also, notice that Jose Ferrer is riding for Stidham over Navarro.
With the off track, I would also use #1 Erlich, who has a bullet work in preparation for this. Curlins tend to perform well in the slop, and Kelly Breen has a good track record with 2YOs at Monmouth.
#7 Candy Cane Lane jumped up more than 10 points on the BRIS figure scale when going from turf to dirt around two turns, earning the maiden victory. This class level is similar to what he’s been facing against maiden claimers. With a bunch of horses in here unproven on dirt, I’ll give him the nod.
#5 Industrial Logic is the Chad Brown entrant in here. On class, he’s the best horse in the field. Despite only running over turf, his breeding suggests he could handle dirt as well. But the sharp class drop for a $340k purchase is concerning.
#3 Five Carat Cat, like the top choice, just broke his maiden (albeit over turf). He owns a second place finish in the slop to Notacatbutacard, who runs in today’s 8th race. He might be a cut below these on class, but I can see him getting a minor award. He has just as good a chance as any in this wide-open, off-turf event.
#6 Monterey Marianne is undefeated in two starts with Jose Ferrer in the saddle. It looks like the light bulb came on in the maiden victory two starts back, as she’s won back-to-back races by three lengths or more. She’s also taking a steep, but realistic drop in class.
#8 Airborne Ranger could be a sneaky play in here. His race two back can be thrown out as the rider lost the irons early, and three back he faced stronger competition. But all things being equal, Tim Kelly has gotten this horse to perform well at this level with commensurate speed figures that should help him outrun his odds. The 0-15 mark at Monmouth is concerning though, but he does have four seconds.
#4 Simply Great benefited from a strong ride by Albin Jiminez last time and reunites with that pilot today. Jiminez has also finished ITM in 8 tries from 10 starts over the last two months. If you’re playing trifectas, you’ll want this horse as a key in all slots.
#6 Slam Chowder gets an upgrade from Angel Arroyo to the meet’s top rider, Jose Ferrer, who is also one of the best gate riders in the game. The last two races would have been victories if there weren’t any odds-on horses to face (which shouldn’t be the case today). There is another horse in the field with better gate speed, but that one tends to quit when headed. We will see how Slam Chowder reacts to another horse keeping him company.
#4 Dancin Debbie is the main threat on the class drop. Ferrer rode this horse several times in the recent past, but defects to the top choice. Ignore the last race as that came against optional claimers. I expect an effort similar to, or better than, the race two back where he ran third against 7500 claimers.
#1 Coax might get a decent pace to close into this time to pick up the pieces. The last race was a poor effort despite running second, so Keith Nations gave him some time off. He’s had regular works since the end of July, though they’ve been average. His speed figures fit well with this group, but coming off of the layoff and with a relative pace disadvantage over a normally speed-favoring track, I think a minor placing is his ceiling.
#6 Field Advantage, much like the top choice in the 5th race, has been on a roll in his last two starts, winning by over four lengths. He now takes a well-meant drop in class which can only help matters, plus he has proven lately to survive early pace duels. He’s 2 for 2 at this distance and has a legitimate chance to go 3 for 3.
#9 Road Guard Post does his best running on the early lead, but has poor finishing ability. Still, in my opinion he’s the second-best horse in the race.
#8 First On a Roll has three thirds over an off track, and will need to sit a trip from mid-pack in order to have a chance. I think the speeds will be tough in this race, but Rendon has been able to work out a successful trip on this horse in the past.
Race 8 (Start of Jersey Shore 6)
#1 Blame the Thief steps down from allowance company in New York (which is tougher than one might think) to the 35k claiming level at Monmouth. He has run some very good numbers over dirt in the past, much better than most of the contenders in this field have run over the surface. My main reservation is the inside post. I would have preferred if he drew outside, as some of his best races have come from there and the Monmouth rail has a tendency to be dead on excessively rainy days. While the price should be right, I won’t be keying for that reason.
#10 Glass Bridge would have gotten the nod for the top choice if Albin Jiminez were aboard. I have my reservations with Joey Martinez getting the mount instead, however, he does have plenty of seconds this meet. The horse broke his maiden two back at the 30k level before being in WAY over his head against 62.5k claimers over turf at Saratoga (George/Kelly, what were you thinking?). But now he returns to dirt and gets to try a sloppy track for the first time. Brisnet’s 115 off track rating for the Blame progeny suggests he should handle the surface quite well, and the speed figures over dirt are competitive against this field.
#9 Notacatbutacard has been in good form lately, but takes a sharp step up in class from 12.5k claimers. His speed figures in the slop fit well with this group, plus he has a win over an off track. I just wonder how he will handle the tougher competition.
#4 Getoffmyback is coming off of a terrible race over turf. But note he doesn’t have a single ITM finish over five starts on turf. Two back he won by five lengths against 12.5k claimers, earning a solid figure in the process. But what I really think will work in his favor is the expected track condition. Against 25k claimers seven back at Aqueduct, he earned a 100 BRIS figure losing by a neck over a sloppy sealed surface. With that in mind, and considering trainer Robertino Diodoro has shipped here only once this meet and won, I’m going to give this one the nod at a price.
#8 Rockford comes off of two narrow losses against open claimers at Saratoga- some of the toughest claiming competition in the country. He earned two great speed figures in those races, and has also run well away from Saratoga. Rockford also has five second place finishes over off tracks. But I wonder why Paco Lopez, who has ridden this horse in the past, lands somewhere else.
#1 Town Policy has 5 wins from 7 starts at Monmouth, and is also coming into this race off of three straight wins- including a win at this level over a sloppy surface two back. However, this is a pretty salty field compared to what he faced in that (narrow) victory. The numbers are also a little light compared to other top contenders. He’s got the jockey that should give him the best chance to win in Jose Ferrer, but at the expected price, I’ll place him underneath. But I would not leave this horse off of your Pick 6 tickets by any means.
#4 Graham’s Way had a tough trip (as much as you can get in a five horse field) last time from the rail, which wasn’t playing all that well in August, and ran third as the 6/5 favorite with a solid 88 BRIS figure. In addition, he has been gelded since that race to help take some of the edge off that may have gotten him into trouble last time. He drew the 4 hole today, which should help him avoid a similar trip, and comes into this race with a bullet work. A red-hot Albin Jiminez gets the mount for equally hot trainer Mike Stidham.
#12 Support Our Cause draws in off the MTO list for Chad Brown and Jose Ferrer. This horse earned a very good figure over dirt in his career debut despite getting a bad trip. Much like for the top choice, the 112 BRIS rating for off tracks adds to the appeal. I don’t think I have to say much further than leave out Chad and Ferrer at your own risk.
#13 The Mighty Judge ran fourth in the debut over a sloppy track, and is eligible to move forward today. He’s by Curlin, a sire whose progeny usually perform well over off tracks. I think a minor award is his ceiling as he will more than likely get a very wide trip from the far outside post.
#5 No Honor No Deal steps down from 16k maiden claimers over to the 10k level. Two back he ran quite well against 25k maiden claimers over a sloppy surface, running fourth and earning a good speed figure in the process. After running poorly over turf last time, he returns to a surface over which he has a proven affinity for, plus the Jose Ferrer/Navarro combo earns this horse single potential.
#3 Forest River exits a race where the first place finisher repeated next out (and earned my checkmark in the 7th race). This horse should improve in his second career start after running well against 12.5k claimers.
#11 Seventyseven Force cuts back in distance after going two turns. The best BRIS figure of his career thus far was earned in the slop two back, and his other top figure was earned in a third place finish at this level five back. He will have to avoid significant ground loss from the outside post.
#6 Sassy Chub steps down to 16k claimers after trying state bred allowance company in her last two starts. She earned pretty good figures in her maiden races while being trained by Rory Huston before running poorly at the allowance level under Jorge Navarro. With a drop down in class and Jose Ferrer having his sights on the lead (hopefully not steadying at the start like in the last race), this one could wire them. Especially since Navarro has a habit of winning races at short prices in off-the-turf events.
#1 Miss Maris hasn’t been disgraced at all in five career starts, never running worse than fourth. She takes a sharp drop in class from 30k beaten claimers down to this level, while running a good 72 BRIS figure against stronger company. She’s also run 5 ½ furlongs faster than anyone else in the field on raw times.
#10 Willows Babe ran an uncharacteristically puzzling race last time here at the 20k level after having a solid seven-race start to her career in California. I really don’t know what cause her to run like that, but I’m willing to draw a line through it and select her based on back form. But no more excuses after today. She will also likely have to find a different jockey if Navarro draws in, as I doubt Ferrer would jump off of him to ride for Kathleen Demasi.
#3 Watch Your Words is coming off of a win against 7500 claimers and drops back down to the 5k level where he was defeated two back. His wet track record is pretty good, with 2 seconds and a 3rd from 3 starts. He also has a pretty good record at Monmouth and 4 seconds out of 8 starts at the distance. In a race filled with old time veterans, Watch Your Words has the least experience in the field but also the best ITM lifetime record. I would key this horse in all slots.
#5 Act of Madness has run at this level only once in his last ten starts, and it produced a second-place finish to a horse who won next out. He also gets a weight break from that race with a capable bug rider in Anthony Nunez.
#7 Claymaker ran a respectable third last out at this level. He consistently runs BRIS figures in the mid-70s both at this distance and over off tracks. I think Shannon Uske could work out a nice midpack trip on this horse from the outside, but with the lack of speed in this race she’ll have to avoid being too far back in order to have a winning chance.
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