Player Quick Pick: Monmouth for 7/27/2014

Molly Jo Rosen

July 27th, 2014

by D.S. Williamson

The Haskell Invitational is the feature on Sunday, but before that are a number of terrific graded races that could yield profits to horseplayers.

Monmouth Park 7 | 2:53 pm ET G2 Molly Pitcher for 3&up F&M going 1-1/16 mi.

5 – Zucchini Flower – There is a ton of early foot in this race. The fast pace should set things up for Zucchini Flower who has a terrific 4-3-3 record out of 18 lifetime races. Zucchini Flower is also 1 and 1 out of 2 races over Monmouth’s dirt. Trained by Graham Motion, she just lost to likely chalk Natalia Victoria two races back at 1 mile and 70 yards in a minor stakes over this track. She should be able to turn the tables on that rival if all of the speed forces a quick pace. Trevor McCarthy rides back.

1 – Triple Arch – Trainer Marcus Vitali is having a terrific Monmouth meet. He’s winning races at 26%. When Orlando Bocachica rides for Vitali, the ROI is +$.64. That’s not bad. Triple Arch, Vitali’s entrant in the Molly Pitcher on Sunday, is a classy animal as evidenced by her second place finish in the Grade 3 Eatontown two races back. That race was over the turf. She won an optional claiming $50K event in preparation for this and could make her presence felt in the stretch if the pace is as fast as expected.

8 – Natalia Victoria –  The likely chalk figures to be the speed of the speed, but will she have enough to hold off quality horses like Zucchini Flower and Triple Arch after dueling with speedsters like Montana Native and Swinger’s Party? It’s unlikely that she will, but she’s obviously the one to beat after scoring with 4 victories out of her last 5 races. The odds figure to be short, though. So, it might be tough to put her on top.

Monmouth Park 10 | 4:32 pm ET G2 Monmouth Cup for 3&up going 1-1/16 mi.

2 – Pants On Fire – The connections of Pants On Fire decided to send the millionaire to Japan for the Grade 1 Japan Cup Dirt. Things didn’t work out as planned because Pants On Fire finished in sixteenth place and lost by 14 lengths. But the horse gets back onto one of his favorite tracks, he’s won 3 out of 5 races at Monmouth, picks up one of his regular riders, Paco Lopez, and has been training fabulously over the Monmouth dirt. This is a deep race, so, don’t take short odds on anybody. But, because of the Japan debacle, Pants On Fire might actually offer overlaid odds to repeat as the Monmouth Cup champ on Sunday.

4 – Bradester – The four-year-old colt sired by Lion Heart ran a bang up race in the Grade 3 Salvatore Mile. He lost by only 1.5 lengths to the terrific Itsmyluckyday. That was Bradester’s first race off of a layoff, meaning that he should be more keyed up for this event. He’s got speed to spare and unlike some others in here, Bradester won’t fold if he’s pressed from the outset. Jockey Jose Lezcano has two second place finishes and a third out of 3 mounts at Monmouth so far this year. Unless they push Jose early, he’ll have a good chance to get his first win at the Oceanport, NJ track in this Grade 2 event.

7 – Easter Gift – Joe Bravo hops aboard this five-year-old horse with 6 wins out of 14 lifetime starts. Easter Gift hasn’t run since November. That race was the Grade 1 Clark Handicap where he finished third behind two of the highest rated handicap horses in the country, Will Take Charge and Game On Dude. It was a brilliant run. He goes into this event off of some terrific works at Saratoga and the son of Hard Spun does have experience over the Monmouth dirt. He could be tough if Bravo can find a way to get him into the race early without compromising the terrific kick he showed in the Clark.