Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Nomination Is In: July 4, 2009: The Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park

United Nations Day at Monmouth as our country celebrates Independence Day. The fine looking animal to the left in the Vanessa Ng photo is the 2008 winner of the Salvator Mile, Notional, with J. Bravo up.

I haven't handicapped Monmouth much since October 2007 and the Breeder's Cup. I was enjoying a phenomenal handicapping day when the emotional high came tumbling down with the breakdown and death of George Washington following the Breeder's Cup Classic. On as patriotic a day as we celebrate every year, I'd like to take just a moment and remember the horse named after the father of our country. It's important to me to remember that this game we play sometimes ends tragically and just as I honor the human dead, I hope all horseplayers retain enough compassion to remember our dead runners.

It's suppose to be a good weather day at Monmouth. For anyone concerned about track condition and current weather, you'll find the Monmouth Park website very useful.

Race 9 Mth Post Time 4:50 ET: The Salvator Mile GIII; 1 Mile on Dirt for 3 YO and Up.

I'm backing Smooth Air to win right now and if that changes as the day goes on I'll update. I don't generally like first time with a new trainer horses, something Trainer Brown has done 59 times and won 17% of. It's Smooth Air's first time at Mth as well. He is 9 of 10 in the money on fast dirt, 2 of 2 in the money at the distance and 13 of 15 lifetime starts in the money. The Grade II winner gave Bribon all he could handle at the Met Mile on Memorial Day. He may be the post time chalk, so if he doesn't look good in the paddock or post parade I may jump off of him quickly and look for win bets where there is more value.

Two Step Salsa, campaigning under the royal blue silks of Godolphin, is a Grade II winner and is making his 2nd North American start since wintering in Dubai and doing very well there to boot. G. "home is where the heart is" Gomez leaves his California home and is up today. Trainer of record bin Suroor has good stats on 2nd off 45-180, winning 37% of the time and 20% of Graded Stakes. 7 out of 11 of Two Step Salsa's lifetime starts are on turf or synth.

Solar Flare interests me greatly. His current form indicates he may be running as good as he was in June 2008 before he had a late season swoon. Trainer Jones has super stats so I won't run down the list, but 26% in 31-60 day layoffs and 33% Graded Stakes pop out. Solar Flare won at Monmouth in late May. Lots to like and will force me to either box my exotics or place him at the top on multiple tickets.

Trainer Zito and last year's winning jock Bravo are here with Coal Play, a head scratcher of a runner. 4 of 4 in the money at Monmouth, 2 of 3 at this distance and coming off a 105 BSF performance at BEL at this distance on June 10th. Coal Play gave Big Brown all he could handle in last year's Haskel. The son of Mineshaft could win, but is talented enough to be in the top four. Zito's WON LAST START stat is 33% on 100 races.

Happy 4th of July. The Turk will be celebrating with the Turk Clan on Poppa Turk's deck, a few short steps from the sat TV feed of the races. For the record, Mrs. Turk likes The Roundhouse here, a good win bet at 6-1 for the talented but erratic Pletcher trainee and Little Turk is backing Solar Flare.

10 Cent supers are in fashion here. I'll be exotic hunting.

Rest in Peace Gorgeous George Washington.

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