The Turk hasn't played Monmouth Park too much over the years. It hasn't nothing to do with the fine citizens of New Jersey, I just always had other options. I've been watching the brave experiment underway this meet at Monmouth and I can't help but think it's the model that many other tracks should be trying to follow. Today's choice was predicated by the quality of racing. I had printed the Belmont Park Late Pick Three Races and while I liked the Grade II Suburban, I wanted nothing to do with betting money on I Want Revenge or Regal Ransom and I may just take a $2WP bet on Haynesfield who is at a nice ML 5-1. Races 10 and 11 didn't interest me much either (N1X 38K 7f on turf and N2L 26K 1 1/16 on turf)so I guess I'm at the shore.
That fine looking Gr./Ro. is Take The Points. I saw Take The Points in the Santa Anita Derby last year and like his stride, but his last six races have been a relevation and he makes his second start off a long trip to Dubai and earns Turk Chalk in today's Grade I United Nations. Munnings and the Duke of Mischief headline a nice but smallish field Salvatore Mile. Rest in Peace Gorgeous George Washington. Let's Go!
As always, start your handicapping with a review of the websites where you will get the key information you need before you wager. The weather looks good today and I expect the Turf will be Firm and Dirt Fast. It's a bit early for scratches and changes but the first race isn't until 5:23 Eastern so check back in.
Race 10 is the Grade I United Nations. It's a very nice 9 horse field with three pace pushers and lead takers (Get Serious/2 & Straight Story/4 & Acclimation/3 and some hard late closers in Winchester and a strong off the pace runner in Take the Points, as well as a wildcard in Chinchon (Ire) , freshly arrived from Graded Stakes action in France.
As I am looking for value in a Pick Three I'm less excited after my handicap then I was before. I see some chalk or close to chalk runners winning legs 1 and 2 and value may come in a big field N3L at 1 1/16 mile on Turf. If this was easy, children would do it (OK, possibly they do with respect to The Little Turk, but you get the idea).
I actually like this as a betting race for a reasonable price Superfecta so I will take no more then the top two for the Pick Three and most likely single this race and the next (just for a low risk, decent reward value bet) but I will build the Superfecta as I laid out above. I'm backing Take the Points or Winchester to win, and I'm really indifferent to which one does win. Winchester, a Clement runner and a son of Theatrical has solid Tomlinsons for both distance and turf and comes in off a very nice firm turf Grade I win at Belmont at 1 1/4 over Gio Ponti. Pretty good credentials for a resume that was second tier before that race. I'm betting he's on the rise and that's why we call this gambling! Take The Points drops back a 1/16 of a mile after finishing fourth in the above mentioned race to Winchester. A very sharp 4f bullet on Turf in :47 confirms he's rounding into form after a taxing trip to Dubai for Trainer Pletcher and jock E. Prado, up again and sporting a 20% win rate with the conditioner.
Of all the front running speed burners, I like Acclimation the best: Running at regular intervals with a G2/G1 and now G1 effort spread across almost equal 5 week rests. 3 wins in last 16 starts but 11 of 16 in the money over the same period and 8 of 12 in the money on turf with 33% win rate. I think it's a bridge too far but never under estimate the loose on the lead angle which I don't see happening with the others here to contest.
I'm only going to go down to my "yellow" rated and that includes a big wildcard in Chinchon (IRE) with Gomez up and Get Serious who I'm thinking will be dropping back instead of going forward by the wire. I might be wrong not backing Jeune-Truc (Brz) for 4th and I'll have to live with that mistake if it happens.
A five horse field greets us in the second leg, the Grade III Salvatore Mile. Munnings is a serious tease: A fireball who fires sometimes and at others seems content for place and show. He ran a real clunker in the slop at Churchill and is now winless on wet dirt, which makes you shake your head at his gaudy 480 Tomlinson for wet surfaces. He's 7 of 7 in the money on fast dirt and you ignore him at your own peril. Gomez gets the mount from usual rider J. Velazquez. Gomez's fortunes seem to fall and rise like the waves on the shore of New Jersey but I digress. A horse I'm VERY guilty of underestimating is the Duke of Mischief. 5 wins in his last 12 starts and his BSF's are anywhere from solid Allowance runner to Grade II star. Only won once in 13starts as the chalk at post time. Trainer Hawkes and E. Coa, up, win 26% of their races together.
Le Gran Cru is a solid runner that is saddled by the Pletcher barn for the first time today. 50% winner over 6 races at 1 mile. He'll go to gate >4-1 and might be a nice defensive win bet.
I'm again thinking I'll single a horse in this leg and I may single Munnings, contrary to what I have in my spreadsheet. I'm fickle when it comes to his regal horseflesh.
Race 12 is intriguing, a 12 horse field running 1 1/16 miles for horses stuck at two wins or less with claiming prices ranging from $25 to $20K. I have a whopping six horses in my top group, far too many but I may just go ahead and bet them all if I single the first two legs which is today's Truck Nutz (c) Iron Pipe Lock of the Week Play. OK, Truck Nutz don't really sponsor me with money, but friends of the Turk know how he respects the entrepreneurial spirit of America. Yeah, it's a holiday weekend and I'm having fun.
So that's my basic plays I'm I'm sticking with it. If i deviate I'll take 2 X 2 in the first two legs and drop down to three picks in race 12, most likely 6-10-12.
Have fun everyone. I'll be back for some Fourth of July hijinks. Turk Out!