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Bernier's Best

Weekend Stakes Previews for June 18

by Matt Bernier
Updated On: June 17, 2022, 3:47 pm ET

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With the 2022 Triple Crown in the rearview mirror, focus shifts to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships taking place at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky in early November.

One horse that figures to make his presence felt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic division is Hot Rod Charlie, who will be making his return to the races in the United States on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

Below you will find selections from each of the four stakes events taking place at Monmouth on Saturday: the G3 Eatontown, the Pegasus, the G3 Monmouth, and the G3 Salvator Mile featuring Hot Rod Charlie.

After twenty-one weeks, here is the results tally (records reflective of $2 WIN / $2 WPS):

WIN: 9-63 (14.3%, -$67.20)
WPS: 34-63 (54%, -$120.50)

 

 

4:47 ET – MONMOUTH R11 – G3 EATONTOWN – 1 1/16 MILES – TURF

PRINCESS GRACE (6) has been one of the better turf females of her generation, and she’ll be making her 2022 seasonal debut in Saturday’s Eatontown for trainer Michael Stidham. A five-year-old daughter of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Karakontie, Princess Grace brings a versatile running style to the affair that should allow jockey Florent Geroux to position the mare wherever he sees fit. Considering she’s coming off the bench and catches a race without a ton of early foot, one would expect her to take up a pressing or stalking position from the moment the gates break. There are other talented ladies in this field including Fluffy Socks (8), Lemista (7), and Princess Grace’s uncoupled stablemate, Alms (4), but Princess Grace should be ready to roll off the bench on Saturday (Stidham’s numbers over the past five years in turf routes with horses coming off layoffs of 200 days or greater: 15-for-51, 24 in-the-money finishes, $2.35 win-bet ROI).

 

THE PLAY: 6) PRINCESS GRACE to win at odds of 7/2 or greater

 

 

5:19 ET – MONMOUTH R12 – PEGASUS – 1 1/16 MILES – DIRT

He’s a bit light on speed figures entering this race, but DASH ATTACK (7) was the only horse making up any ground in last month’s Long Branch at Monmouth and deserves extra credit for the performance. Trained by Kenny McPeek, the three-year-old son of Munnings rallied from off the pace while chasing slow fractions before digging in gamely down the lane, prevailing by a half-length when all was said and done. He continues to indicate he’s improving with age and racing, but the elephant in the room needs to be addressed when considering Dash Attack’s chances: he’s 3-for-3 on wet tracks and 0-for-3 on dry tracks. I’m not completely ready to write him off as a wet track bully, but it at least needs to be taken into consideration. With horses from Chad Brown and Brad Cox entered in the Pegasus, Dash Attack should offer a price that is fair enough to find out if he can win on a fast main track.

 

THE PLAY: 7) DASH ATTACK to win at odds of 9/2 or greater

 

 

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5:47 ET – MONMOUTH R13 – G3 MONMOUTH – 1 1/8 MILES – TURF

There’s no telling what version of TAX (2) we’re going to get when he makes his turf debut in the Monmouth Stakes on Saturday, but if he still has anything left in the tank he represents a dangerous gate-to-wire threat. Making his first start since the 2021 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, the six-year-old gelding trained by Danny Gargan is bred top and bottom to appreciate the turf. Offspring of Arch win 13% of the time in turf routes, and his dam was by Giant’s Causeway and had success herself on synthetic surfaces. There’s no guarantee Tax can still be competitive at a level like this, but if he’s anything near what he was when we last saw him (albeit on dirt), he looms as an upset threat beneath jockey Joe Bravo.

 

THE PLAY: 2) TAX to win at odds of 8/1 or greater

 

 

6:15 ET – MONMOUTH R14 – G3 SALVATOR MILE – 1 MILE – DIRT

The combination of class and the apparent pace advantage he has makes HOT ROD CHARLIE (3) tough to ignore in Saturday’s Salvator Mile. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the four-year-old son of Oxbow ran a credible second in the 2022 Dubai World Cup behind Country Grammer (yes, this is how it’s spelled), and a replica of that effort is simply too much for this field to handle. There are questions that need to be answered by the colt, however. First, Hot Rod Charlie wouldn’t be the first horse that needed a race before showing his best following a sustained period in the Middle East. Second, and more importantly in my eyes, the reality that Saturday’s race is nothing more than a means to an end before September’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar should be kept in mind when considering this runner. Yes, he’s the most likely winner by a long way, but it wouldn’t be an absolute stunner if he were to lose to a horse like Mind Control (1) or even Shirl’s Speight (4) who tries dirt for the second time. Nonetheless, I believe class prevails, and Hot Rod Charlie should get the job done in the Salvator Mile.

 

THE PLAY: 3) HOT ROD CHARLIE to win at odds of 1/1 or greater

 

 

 

 

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Matt Bernier

Matt Bernier is a betting analyst for NBC Sports and host of "The Matt Bernier Show" podcast. His work has been showcased in the Daily Racing Form, on ESPN, as well as on TVG. Matt can be followed on Twitter @bernier_matt.