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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, June 17, 2022 – If weather handicappers are correct, it’s appropriate that the first big event at the Shore track, Haskell Preview Day, will take place under clear skies, albeit windy conditions.

The featured event, and the featured bet, will be an all-graded-stakes Pick 4 commencing with Race 11. But it is the return of world-traveling Hot Rod Charlie that will make the G3 Salvator Mile a race of national interest.

The co-highweight beneath 124 pounds, with Mike Smith in to ride, has many things to like, namely high class, consistently fast performance figures, and a fondness for Monmouth Park, having finished first in the 2021 Haskell, though ultimately he was demoted.

What’s not to like in addition to the impost, is the fact the trip is a bit short for his ideal stalk-and-pounce style at longer distances, and that this obviously is a bridge to a summer season and beyond, notably the Breeders’ Cup Classic of fall.

When last seen, ‘Charlie’ was finishing second to Country Grammer in the Dubai World Cup following his victory in the DWC prep. His World Cup placing pushed his lifetime earnings passed the $5.1 million mark.

And the surmise is he will be about 80-85% fit for today’s run, where clearly the aim will be to run good and come back good, as racetrackers say. Despite his class edge, and at what is sure to be an extremely short price, this race is no walkover.

His major rival, Mind Control, is pole sitting with Johnny Velazquez and it seems clear that the six year old Stay Thirsty horse has been pointed here specifically by Todd Pletcher for New Jersey-type connections. He exits two recent Grade 1s.

Mind Control is a tactical mid-pack racer on his best day, but he may be forced to control the pace given the race dynamics his rivals are likely to dictate as there is no obvious speed horse on paper. But then he goes for connections known for figuring these things out.

In terms of the Pick 4, budget conscious players are highly likely to talk themselves into believing he’s the free square in this sequence.

We will probably use both, giving us a chance to inject some value into the play. There are two open turf races in the sequence, especially the G3 Monmouth Handicap, which on paper rates to be a wide-spread third leg.

We will take a deeper dive into those two races and also the listed Pegasus Stakes, the local Haskell prep, and sequence lid-lifting G3 Eatontown. More on those subsequently. Meanwhile, here’s a start:

GS SALVATOR MILE                Race 14

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Hot Rod Charlie (4-5)

THE VALUE BET:  Mind Control (3-1) to win at early line odds or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Box Hot Rod Charlie and Mind Control, extra ticket with ‘Charlie’ on top.  Trifecta Key Hot Rode Charlie with Mind Control and Phat Man second and third

G3 EATONTOWN STAKES            Race 11

The Skinny: It means nothing in the big picture but the three fillies we settled on here all had varying degrees of trouble in the last run and all started the rail post. Go figure.

Vigilantes Way (7-2) was forced to alter course in her season’s debut from far back, never looked a winner but finished and galloped out nicely past the wire.

Princess Grace (7-2) had the misfortune of meeting Regal Glory just as that one was getting real good, was steadied between rivals in upper stretch then finished well thereafter. Makes her season’s debut but has won fresh and reunited with winning partner Geroux.

Fluffy Socks (3-1), saving ground behind a dawdling pace, alter course very wide at the turn and into stretch and was outfinished by her still undefeated stablemate when that one found an inside seam.


THE VALUE BET: Princess Grace to win at 3-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Three-Horse Exacta Box. Three-Horse Trifecta Box.

PEGASUS STAKES             Race 12

The Skinny: Don’t know if Chad Brown is seriously thinking Haskell, not with Jack Christopher, Early Voting and Zandon in the barn but maybe he pointed Electability (9-5) specifically to this race after finishing third in the Peter Pan. Otherwise why would he ship him from Elmont to Eatontown and work him crisply thrice over this track?

Home Brew (3-1) got education and still won his last; runs turns well and has gears. Dash Attack (7-2) has been toughened in graded company and won here, albeit in the wet.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Electability (9-5)

THE VALUE BET:  Home Brew (3-1) to win at 5-2 or greater

EXOTICA: Three-Horse Exacta Box. Three-Horse Trifecta Box. Exacta Key-Box Home Brew with both rivals above.

G3 MONMOUTH STAKES           Race 13

The Skinny: Like at the dentist, open wide. There are many cases to be made; only three of the 12 would be shocking. Here’s my dilemma: Like so many, I believe in class on the grass, but I seldom if ever back a horse without grass experience against proven turfers.

In Tax (12-1), these two variables collide. The gelded six year old has not raced since JAN. 2021—but Danny Gargan is a profitable 30% with horses off layups of greater than 90 days.

What this spot, I don’t know. But I do know that when he rode here regularly, “Jersey Joe” Bravo was king of the Monmouth lawn. To my knowledge, he’s never ridden this horse, yet here he is. At half the early line odds, I’ll bite.

There are two others in particular that I believe will outrun their odds. Both are class tested with their form sufficiently darkened: Glynn County (12-1) and Hidden Stash (15-1).


THE VALUE PLAYS: Taking Hidden Stash to win at 12-1 or greater and Glynn County to win at (8-1) or more.

EXOTICA: Four-Horse Exacta Box: Tax, Sacred Life, Glynn County and Hidden Stash. Four-Horse Exacta Box: Yes This Time (5-1), Tax, Glynn County and Hidden Stash.

Per usual, all exotic plays at minimums available, straight wagers at $2 units.

this is a live column that will be updated periodically

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