Quills Picks Winners – Saturday 6/1 – Monmouth Race 11 (Jersey Derby) & Churchill Race 10 (Blame Stakes)


By Joe Quillen

It’s Saturday, which means that I will give you my thoughts on two different races that AJ and I looked at on Also Eligible. Don’t know how to watch Also Eligible? Join us on the Bleacher Brothers Twitch, YouTube and X pages as we break down some of the best races of the weekend on our Saturday show.

Today, we will look at two races today. I admit that one of them is a bit nostalgic as we will look at the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park, which is a one-mile turf race that will be race 11 on their card. We also take a look at the Blame Stakes, which is for older horses going a mile and an eighth on the main track.  For the sake of this article, we will go in sequential order here, starting in Louisville, and then quickly getting to the Jersey Shore for the Jersey Derby.

Our first race is the Blame Stakes, which is named for the only horse that defeated Zenyatta as he outdueled the mare who had come into the Breeders’ Cup Classic winning her first 19 races in her career before that close defeat.


Weather will be an issue here as rain is in the forecast, and I am handicapping this race as a race that will be on a sloppy main track. The 2 Highland Falls is the 5/2 morning line favorite and has never run on a sloppy track. But I would not toss that fact because Highland Falls’ sire is Curlin who I consider one of the top off-track sires out there.

Highland Falls has been a few lengths off the lead and could be making a move at the end. There is speed here up front on the favorite’s inside with Frosted Departure (15/1 ML) who won last time out in the mud at Oaklawn. There is also speed on the outside with the 7 Classic Causeway (30/1 ML) who always guns for the lead and has been fading badly so far in 2024, and the 10 Five Star General (30/1 ML ) who we went gate to wire in an off the turf optional claiming race.

If this “cheap speed” as I like to call it goes for the front, then the closers will be flying as they turn for home with about a quarter of a mile to go. The 6 Dreamlike (4/1 ML) looks like the best candidate here. He just missed at Keeneland about six weeks ago which was an obvious prep race. He just missed in the Pennsylvania Derby last September, and I bring that to your attention because that was an extremely rainy day at Parx. He is definitely going to make his move and be there on the wire at the end. The question is whether his nose is first, second or third.


The 3 Tapit Trice returns to the races after last racing at Saratoga last August in the Travers. He’s been training like clockwork over the last three months for today and could be there if ready. Todd Pletcher’s horses win 20% of the time off of a sample size of 367 entries where his horses won. 

The 9 Cagliostro (6/1 ML) was game in his return to the races in April at Keeneland defeating Dreamlike. He’s been at or near the lead the last few races, including his return race, but I think he can be more tactical and let the longshots put up potentially crazy fractions.

In the end, we are going to have a crazy finish here that may be a replay of the Keeneland race. I think the potential of a sloppy track turns the tables and Dreamlike will like the slop and defeat Cagliostro in a great finish. Dare I say another blanket finish like last night’s Penn Mile at Penn National?

I’m going 4-9-2-3 here, and my play is $20 to win on the 4 Dreamlike.

Then I get a bit nostalgic here. I could have gone with the race of the day on the Daily Racing Form site, but who wants to see me talk about a four-horse race? Hell, I know I wouldn’t want to listen to someone talk about that. Instead, I go with the Jersey Derby, which like last night’s Penn Mile, is a turf race going a mile. 

Granted, the Jersey Derby is not what it used to be. It’s not the aura of Spend A Buck skipping the Preakness for a $2 million bonus for a race at Garden State Park. It eventually went to the turf course and ended up being a signature race that specialized on three-year-olds not good enough for the Triple Crown but good enough to run on the turf or has the turf pedigree to win the Cherry Hill track’s signature race on the final night of the meet.

After the closure of the track on Route 70, the race moved to the Jersey Shore at Monmouth and became an afterthought. But at least we have an interesting race here as nine three-year-olds go postward for an estimated post time of 5:38 pm Eastern time.


Favored in this race is the 5 Move to Gold (2/1 ML) who appears to want to make one big run down the stretch and try to win it at the wire. He should have a target to two to run down as the 7 Fidelightcayut (8/1 ML) looks to be the horse that will go for the lead.

I’m also expecting the 4 K Crown (6/1 ML) to potentially be on the lead. His last race was two months ago at Gulfstream, and there is the potential for a speed duel to help the experienced turf closers here. This is his first race on the turf, but he has run on the Tapeta at Gulfstream for his first four races of his career.

A horse to keep an eye on without turf experience is the 6 Trevesso (20/1 ML). He really hasn’t faced much which warrants the 20/1 morning line, but he is bred for the turf with Kitten’s Joy being his sire. It is not ideal that you debut on the turf here, but he should like the change of surface here. Even if Trevesso doesn’t win here, this race could set him up nicely for the rest of the season if he does run well here.

The 2 Frizzante (10/1 ML) finished well to finish third in his turf debut two races back at Tampa Bay Downs. He could get up there at a nice price.

I’m interested in what Frankie Dettori has in mind for the 8 Twirling Point (5/2 ML). This horse has raced on the lead on the turf at Santa Anita and closed well on the synthetic at Turfway Park in the Rushaway. I would not be the least bit surprised if Dettori sets Twirling Point up the same way he won the Penn Mile last night, defeating the Rushaway winner Trikari in a blanket finish. I think he can rate or he might show some of that California speed. There is an interesting setup here.

With some transitive properties as well with Trikari fighting to the end only to lose to Frankie Dettori’s ride on First World War, I’m having visions of Dettori going to the Jersey Shore and winning the Jersey Derby here in another blanket finish over Move the Gold and Trevesso. I’ll call this 8-5-6-2, and my play is $20 to win on the 8.  Good luck everyone!

Check out my show “Also Eligible” on Saturday mornings at 10 am Eastern/7 am Pacific as AJ Johnson and I discuss the big races, the latest news in horse racing and much more!