By Tom Quigley
$75,000 Spruce Fir Handicap at Monmouth Park
Race 9 (Saturday, July 4, 2020: 4:41 p.m./ET; 1:41 p.m./PT)
Six furlongs on the main track (New Jersey-bred fillies and mares, three-years-old and upward)
Monmouth Park begins their racing season this Friday afternoon, and one day later, nine-races are headlined by the first stake of the meet, the $75,000 Spruce Fir Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares. Let’s try to pick the winner:
#1 CRAZY DAISY ran poorly at Parx on January 4 and took six months off before returning here. Daughter of SKY MESA won a starter allowance two starts ago at Parx over a sloppy surface but failed to beat #8 BILLY’S JUMP START and #4 LIZ’S CABLE GIRL in multiple races last year. She’ll also need to overcome the undesirable inside post position. Passing.
#2 ACHIEVING GLORY hasn’t been seen since last year’s Monmouth Park meet, where she won a state-bred allowance race and finished in-the-money in four other allowance races. Speed figures indicates she needs to run faster and this is a tougher field than what she is used to facing. Siding with others off the lengthy break.
#3 DIAMOND PLAY is another that sports a recent layoff line in her past performances. Has been at her best while routing on the turf. Top Monmouth jockey Nik Juarez rides, which adds to the appeal.
#4 LIZ’S CABLE GIRL, the 122 lb. highweight, makes her first start for the Tom Amoss barn after three very poor races against open allowance company at Oaklawn. However, she loves Monmouth Park, where she has won 6 of 10 lifetime starts, including last year’s Spruce Fir Stakes. Her recent form isn’t good but moving to a top barn and back to her favorite playground means she could rebound in a big way.
#5 PRANCING WARRIOR is likely to set the pace. This speedster won a state-bred allowance race in gate to wire fashion last year but finished her 2019 with three straight losses, two of which she lost by double digit lengths. Maybe she returns off the layoff as a fresh and much improved mare? Trainer Chuck Spina is one-for-three when racing his trainees first start off a layoff over 180 days.
#6 CHUBOFFTHEOLDBLOCK won a state-bred allowance race last year in July but hasn’t won since. Has very consistent form at Monmouth, with three wins and two other in-the-money finishes from six starts. Mixed signals.
#7 BOOMERANG MISS is a rare Turf Paradise shipper who hasn’t sprinted successfully in quite some time. Her last win, three starts ago, came against allowance foes going two turns on the grass at Turf Paradise. She makes her first start off the claim for Michael Moore, who is 1-for-27 first-off-the-claim.
#8 BILLY’S JUMP START has just two workouts since her last race on February 10. Daughter of JUMP START has lost 11 straight races. Poor recent form is cause for concern.
1. #4 LIZ’S CABLE GIRL - Moving to a top barn and adores the Jersey Shore.
2. #5 PRANCING WARRIOR - Come and catch her.
3. #3 DIAMOND PLAY - Juarez in the saddle for a 20% trainer.
Longshot Value Play - #6 CHUBOFFTHEOLDBLOCK - ‘Horse for course’ may outrun her odds.
I’ll go ‘all-in’ on my top pick.
Bankroll Play ($50 Budget)
$50 Win: #4 LIZ’S CABLE GIRL
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