Monmouth Park Stakes Spot Plays for Saturday, June 22, 2019

Profile Picture: Noel Michaels

Noel Michaels

June 21st, 2019

Saturday’s 13-race card at Monmouth Park features four stakes races including the featured $300,000 United Nations (G1) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, which makes Monmouth the center of attention in the horse racing world this weekend. Monmouth’s Saturday stakes action kicks off in race 7 with the $150,000 Eatontown (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, and then continues in races 10-11-12 with the $150,000 Philip H. Iselin (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, the United Nations and the $100,000 Lady’s Secret, the filly & mare counterpart of the Iselin at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. An All-Stakes Pick 3 starts in Race 10, as does the 50-cent late Pick 4. Race 7 – The Eatontown (G3) The six-horse Eatontown is not part of the late Pick 4 sequence, but it nevertheless looks like a live betting race. That being said, the favorites look tough in the race with Valedictorian (#1) (8-5) and Inflexibility (#6) (2-1) looming as the ones to beat. Valedictorian disappointed last time in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard, but warrants favoritism here based on her February 9 win in the Suwanee River (G3) at Gulfstream Park, as well as in-the-money finishes in the Honey Fox (G3), Marshua’s River (G3) and Claiming Crown Tiara. Now trainer Kelly Breen brings Valedictorian back to Monmouth, where she is three-for-four in the win column on the grass as he looks to improve on his big 33% win percentage at the current meet. The main challenger will be Inflexibility, who prepped off a seven-month layoff last out in the Gallorette (G3) on the Preakness Stakes (G1) undercard, and now is ready to improve in the second off the layoff. Inflexibility goes out for trainer Chad Brown with jockey Jose Ortiz in for the ride aboard this multiple Grade 2-placed challenger. Box the two favorites, Valedictorian and Inflexibility, in the exactas. Race 10 – Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3) Charles Town super horse Runnin’toluvya (#3) (3-1) takes his show on the road to Monmouth for the first time and many handicappers will be anxious to disrespect his chances. To underrate this horse in this kind of a spot, however, would be a mistake. Runnin’toluvya enters this race riding high on a 10-race winning streak – all at Charles Town – at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to nine furlongs, including five stakes scores with two against open company. The breakout win for Runnin’toluvya that stamps him as the real deal was his half-length victory in the Charles Town Classic (G2) over the Iselin’s top challenger, Diamond King (#5) (2-1). Runnin’toluvya didn’t make the lead in the Charles Town Classic yet still prevailed, and that ability to rate will again make him so difficult to beat, especially because the top contender in this race is the already-vanquished Diamond King. If you are looking for an exacta partner alongside Runnin’toluvya in the Iselin, instead of morning-line favorite Diamond King, go ahead and try with overlay Zanotti (#6) (10-1), whose best-career BRIS Speed figure (105) came at Monmouth Park last season when second in the 1 1/8-mile Monmouth Cup (G3). The play is an exacta box with Runnin’toluvya and Zanotti. Race 11 – The United Nations (G1) The $300,000 United Nations may not be the rich prize it once was, but it is still a coveted Grade 1 spot for top turf distance horses on the East Coast. Most of this year’s United Nations field will be stepping up and looking for their first Grade 1 victories, but in order to make that achievement they will need to beat 2017 United Nations winner, Bigger Picture (#1) (3-1). Bigger Picture, trained by Mike Maker, has seen his form and fortunes go up and down since that career-best win, but his form recently seems to have improved again, not only with a repeat victory in the John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) at Sam Houston but also with a last-out win in the 1 1/2-mile Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland on April 20.  For Bigger Picture, against this field, a United Nations repeat looks likely this season. Go ahead and take the 3-1 odds if you can get it and bet to win. Exotics choices abound in the United Nations exactas and trifectas. The leading challenger looks like Channel Cat (#2) (7-2) for trainer Todd Pletcher. Channel Cat was not up to the task last out in the Manhattan (G1) against the likes of divisional leader Bricks and Mortar and other Chad Brown toughies like Robert Bruce and Raging Bull. Those rivals will not be present in this spot, however, and against this type of competition and at this distance, Channel Cat makes sense based on his back-to-back stakes wins last fall in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs and Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel Park. This could be this horse’s breakout race as a four-year-old. Meanwhile, Chad Brown can never be ignored in a spot like this, and he’ll send two horses out with Arrocha (#3) (12-1) and Focus Group (#4) (2-1), who round-out the list of top contenders. In the exotics, box Bigger Picture, Channel Cat, Arrocha and Focus Group in the trifectas, and also make another trifecta keying Bigger Picture over the other three. Race 12 – The Lady’s Secret Stakes Speed is never a bad thing at Monmouth on the main track, but there are at least two horses and maybe more in this race who will be dead set on the lead, which could open the door for this race to be won from off the pace. While Coffee Crush (#6) (9-2) and Alberobello (#8) (7-2) go at it on the lead, and Breaking Bread (#5) (12-1) ensures no let-up on the pace, you can look for a bonafide stalker with proven two-turn success. Logical alternatives like Pink Sands (#3) (7-2) and Sun Studio (#4) (6-1) seem to do best around one turn, so that leaves My Miss Lilly (#1) (3-1) as the best bet in the race. From a betting perspective in the Lady’s Secret, bet My Miss Lilly to win and key her in exactas over the speeds, Coffee Crush and Alberobello. Enjoy a great card of racing and wagering Saturday at Monmouth Park! PHOTO: Bigger Picture and jockey Tyler Gaffalione win the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) on April 20, 2019, at Keeneland (c) Coady Photography/Keeneland