The $1 million Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park usually draws a solid field of runners exiting the Triple Crown races, but in the year of the pandemic instead it will serve as a prep for two major races.
Among recent Kentucky Derby winners that have come back to win the Haskell include American Pharoah, Big Brown and War Emblem. Maximum Security won last year’s Haskell after a tough disqualification in the Kentucky Derby.
This year’s edition drew a field of seven and the race is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, with 100-40-20-10 points up for grabs to the top four finishers. This year’s Run for the Roses will be decided on Saturday, Sept. 5.
In addition, the Haskell is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) which will be held at Keeneland on Nov. 7.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has won the Haskell a record eight times including five out of six years from 2010 to 2015. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was the most recent Haskell winner saddled by Baffert.
Baffert will be seeking his ninth Haskell with 4-5 morning line favorite Authentic, who won his first three career starts before having to settle for the runner up spot behind Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on June 6. Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith will pilot the colt for the first time, breaking from the two post.
2020 Santa Anita Derby Replay
Authentic is currently listed as the fifth choice at 9-1 for the Kentucky Derby in early wagering at BUSR.
His main foe will be the Todd Pletcher trained Dr Post, who ran second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) in his last outing on June 20. He was beaten 3 ¾ lengths by Tiz the Law, who is not the heavy favorite for the Kentucky Derby, currently listed at 3-2 at BUSR.
With Irad Ortiz Jr. at Saratoga, Joe Bravo will get a leg up on Dr Post for the first time, breaking from the rail as the 5-2 second choice.
There are five supporting stakes on the Monmouth Park card including the $300,000 United Nations (G1). NBC will televise the Haskell at 5:00 ET.
The first Saturday of the Saratoga meeting features the $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and the $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2).
I will include the major stakes in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
Let’s head out to the Jersey Shore for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Monmouth Park Race 12 The TVG.com Haskell (G1) Post time 5:46 ET
1 Dr Post 5-2
2 Authentic 4-5
7 Ny Traffic 7-2
3 Jesus’ Team 15-1
The Pletcher trainee exits the Belmont (G1) where he stalked the early pace and came with a six wide run, rallying to finish in the runner up spot down the middle of the track. He was unable to get to Tiz the Law who got clear turning for home. The racing strip was kind to inside speed that day. The colt was a sharp winner two back at Gulfstream Park in the Unbridled which was his lone trip around two turns. He is back going two turns here and should get a good trip sitting off what likely is going to be a lively early pace. The $400,000 Keeneland purchase is by Quality Road out of the stakes winner Mary Delaney (Hennessy) who was mainly a sprinter on turf and synthetic. This race sets up for him. Pletcher has won this race three times, the most recent with Verrazano in 2013.
This colt comes east off a runner up finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The colt was off a beat slow, pressed the early pace, drifted toward the inside in the final furlong and could not get to the winner. The colt won his first three starts including the San Felipe (G2) two back in gate to wire fashion where he beat Honor A.P. by 2 ¼ lengths. His last was off a three-month break and he should move forward off that effort. Baffert has owned this race, winning it a record eight times. This colt owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and if he shakes loose they won’t catch him. There are a couple of foes in here with some early zip and if they make things tough early it will benefit our top pick.
The colt earned a career top speed fig in a runner up finish in the Matt Winn (G3) last out at Churchill Downs. The colt pressed the early pace, had the lead and drifted outward late, beaten a length by Maxfield. He put in two good tries at Fair Grounds, running third in the Risen Star (G2) and second in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Despite the three losses he is still eighth in the Road to the Derby points race. The colt has worked sharply at Gulfstream Park since his last outing and while he does not look like a win candidate he should pick up piece in this spot.