Race of the Week: Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth | Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Lead:
The post-Triple Crown portion of the season arrives as Monmouth Park puts on its major local prep day Saturday towards is Haskell Invitational program. Four stakes will be run in succession to close the card, and the $150,000 Grade 3 Salvator Mile will be Race 12. This serves as a springboard to the July 22 $400,000 Monmouth Cup.

​Field Depth:  
Grade 2 Wood Memorial winner BOURBONIC has the field's signature score, while RIDIN WITH BIDEN is also a Grade 2 winner. Five others are listed stakes winners, including TRADEMARK, NIMITZ CLASS, ARTORIOUS, FAR MO POWER and OCTANE, the latter also Grade 3-placed. RIDIN WITH BIDEN and BOURBONIC have kept the strongest company lines over the long haul, while ARTORIOUS was part of classy races at age 3.

Rail-drawn PETULANTE may be fastest early, though pressing speed abounds with RIDIN WITH BIDEN, EMPTY TOMB, OCTANE, TRADEMARK and NIMITZ CLASS. Given that volume, we can expect a few of those to turn up the heat for an above-average pace. A closer with some kick has a chance.

Our Eyes:
Here are my horse-by-horse notes.

1-PETULANTE: Hustling jockey Luis Saez is a good fit for the rail and early speed of this Arrogate colt. He's done little wrong to date in 5 starts around 1 turn. Pedigree says he'll handle the additonal bend and the rail helps.

2-RIDIN WITH BIDEN: Stakes winner up to 1-1/2 miles has a versatile running style, but the inner draw and presence of front-running Paco Lopez in the saddle means he'll likely be used early. Cross-entered in Sunday allowance at Parx, which would be the easier spot in his first start since trailing the Pegasus World Cup in January.

3-EMPTY TOMB: Aqueduct claiming winner 2 starts back has found good form of late and has some back class that says he's not totally overmatched. Robert Falcone barn is red hot bringing horses to Monmouth this summer from Belmont base. May be the 'now' horse.

4-FAR MO POWER: Parx-based gelding is cross-entered in the same Parx allowance on Sunday as Ridin With Biden. Would not be surprised to see him wind up there. Disqualified from victory in last year's Parx Dirt Mile when tussling with classy Mind Control, which puts him clearly in the right class category vs. these. Consistent sort to be respected if he makes the short road trip.

5-BOURBON CALLING: Won 3 straight for trainer Antonio Arriaga off of the claim, but was blasted in a very tough edition of the Grade 3 Westchester after a troubled start. Belmont-based 7-year-old has yet to set foot on the Monmouth main, but jockey Jorge Vargas did win this race in 2020 aboard Pirate's Punch. Not impossible, but prefer others.

6-OCTANE: One-turn specialist at Gulfstream Park has been based at Monmouth with the barn for a few weeks and settled in. Did win around 2 turns as a juvenile in the In Reality over 1-1/16 miles and was second around a pair of bends at age 3. First bid at age 4 for such a test and it's a tough spot. Would move up bigtime on a wet track, which is possible based on the forecast.

7-TRADEMARK: Middling sort put it together last fall for back-to-back wins, but otherwise just seems to go with the herd. Nothing in his recent bids at Tampa, Keeneland or Churchill suggest a form awakening. Draw outside much of the other pressing speed and could be victim to a wide trip. Jockey Joel Rosario takes over the controls, but he's been cold (13%) throughout a sub-par 2023 for him.

8-NIMITZ CLASS:  Penn National-based win machine became the top handicap division horse this winter in Maryland. He owns a sparkling 10-for-16 lifetime record and won on the road at Parx last time, so his game travels. Steps up in class while looking for a sixth straight victory and doesn't catch the deepest Grade 3 field in here. Unbeaten with Jevian Toledo aboard and he makes the trip for veteran trainer Bruce Kravets.

9-ARTORIUS:  Out since the Perryville at Keeneland last October, the 2022 Travers sixth-place finisher and Curlin Stakes winner would seem well-meant for a return to the Spa this summer. Son of Arrogate is out of Paulassilverlining, a really strong 1-turn type. I know he won the Curlin around 2 bends and longer than this, but he may be a better late runner around a single turn. His NYRA form and trainer Chad Brown are going to take a lot of money and he could be an underlay price on the tote.

10-BOURBONIC: Late runner likely will be more effective at 1-1/8 miles in the Monmouth Cup if they come back in that one, while the prep feels a bit short for him. He's 1-for-12 since winning the Wood Memorial more than 2 years ago and, like Artorius, his NYRA running lines and trainer Todd Pletcher almost assure an underlay price.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
PETULANTE hasn't missed an exacta to date and has rail speed to control the tempo.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
EMPTY TOMB may not be as respected as he should be as an ex-claimer.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
Let's toss Brown and Pletcher and roll with the trio of PETULANTE, EMPTY TOMB and NIMITZ CLASS. It's a very rare 3-horse exacta box for me, going with a $15 box for $90 total. Take the additional $10 and put it on PETULANTE over EMPTY TOMB and NIMITZ CLASS for additional weight.

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