Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) did not draw any of the Triple Crown race winners but a strong group of seven will be looking to move up in the division as well as stamp a free ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar this November.
The Haskell is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and with three different horses winning Triple Crown races this year, the three-year-old division is far from being decided.
Trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have accounted for 11 winners of the Haskell since 2001 but neither trainer has a horse in this year’s wide open race.
The Graham Motion trained Irish War Cry is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The colt was 10th in the Run for the Roses and bounced back with a game second in the Belmont Stakes (G1), run down late by Tapwrit.
Trainer Chad Brown sends out a pair of contenders. Timeline (3-1) is perfect in four career starts, taking the Pegasus (G3) over the Monmouth Park main track in his last start. He will also saddle Practical Joke (4-1), who is coming off a victory in the Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park going a mile in his last start.
Steve Asmussen sends out Hence (12-1), the Iowa Derby (G3) winner and Ohio Derby (G3) runner up Girvin (6-1) will be sent out by Joe Sharp.
Completing the field is Battle of Midway (5-1) who won the Affirmed (G3) at Santa Anita in his last outing. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was third in the Kentucky Derby at odds of 40-1.
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Let’s head out to Monmouth Park for Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Monmouth Park Race 12 The Haskell Invitational (G1) Post time 5:47 ET
5 McCraken 9-2
1 Irish War Cry 5-2
7 Girvin 6-1
3 Timeline 3-1
McCraken rebounded nicely from his rough trip in the Kentucky Derby (G1) to win the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs in his last outing. This guy was an early Derby favorite after starting his career with four straight wins including the Sam F. Davis (G3). He was third in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland and I thought his trainer Ian Wilkes did not have him fully cranked and I made him my Derby pick. It did not work out but it sure looks as if he is sitting on a big one here. He should get an honest pace to run at and the nine furlongs looks perfect for him.
Irish War Cry was my second choice in the Derby and he let us down too, checking in 10th. He rebounded with a good second in the Belmont Stakes (G1). He put in two very impressive efforts earlier this spring winning the Holy Bull (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2). The Graham Motion trainee draws the rail and should be forwardly placed here. It looks as if the pace will be solid and this guy can sit just off of it and should be able to work out a good trip.
Girvin was 13th in the Derby and he rebounded with a game head loss in the Ohio Derby (G3) in his last outing. The winner was Irap, who came back to win the Indiana Derby (G3) in his next outing on July 15. He won the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) to stamp his ticket to Louisville but the preps at Fair Grounds did not really come up all that tough this year. He did earn a career top speed fig last out and has shown he can handle nine furlongs.
WIN: McCraken to win at 7-2 or better.
EXACTA: 1,5 / 1,3,5,7
TRIFECTA: 1,5 / 1,3,5,7 / 1,3,4,5,7
Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday which will include all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to October and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report.
Michael’s two-day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Del Mar on Nov. 3-4.