The D. Wayne Lukas trained Oxbow, winner of the Preakness Stakes (G1) and the Todd Pletcher trained Verrazano, winner of the Wood Memorial (G1) will hook up on the Jersey Shore on Sunday in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park.
Oxbow followed up his Preakness upset with a solid runner up finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1) behind Palace Malice, who came back to win Saturday’s Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga.
His main rival in the Haskell figures to be Verrazano, who left Florida back in March undefeated in three starts and one of the early betting favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
The colt was sent off as the 4-5 betting favorite in the Wood, and many expected to see a big effort and then a trip to Louisville where he would be the favorite on Derby Day. He got the win in the Wood, but he only won by three-quarters of a length over Normandy Invasion and earned a 95 Beyer, six points lower than his figure for the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) win.
Enough horseplayers jumped off his bandwagon in the Derby that he went off at nearly 9-1 and the fourth choice and he never got untracked in the slop in a 14th place finish where he was beaten 15 ¾ lengths.
Another runner that should not be overlooked is the Bob Baffert trained Power Broker (3-1) who is coming off a victory in the Easy Goer at Belmont Park on June 8. Baffert has won the Haskell six times including the last three with Lookin At Lucky (2010), Coil (2011) and Paynter last year.
There are seven stakes on today’s 14-race card at Monmouth Park and I have selections for six of the stakes included in my Best Plays Report.
Let’s head out to Monmouth Park for Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Monmouth Park Race 13 The Haskell Invitational G1 (Post time 6:18 ET)
7 Verrazano 9-5
4 Power Broker 3-1
5 Oxbow 2-1
6 Micromanage 6-1
Analysis: Verrazano bounced back from his disappointing 14th place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a rather easy win in the Pegasus (G3) where his main foe Itsmyluckyday had to pull up. The colt was able to set moderate fractions and had plenty left, drawing away to win by 9 1/4 lengths The colt won his first four starts, but lost some luster despite winning the Wood (G1) as the race was won in slow time. The Todd Pletcher trainee has been working smartly since his last win and looks capable of moving forward off his last outing.
Power Broker took the field gate to wire to win the Easy Goer last out over a wet track and he was down toward the inside on a day most of the winners were using the outer paths. The runner up Micromanage came out of the race to win the Long Branch in his next outing on July 7. The Bob Baffert trainee is a Grade 1 winner, taking the Frontrunner as a juvenile and he looks back on track after failing to fire in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) which knocked him off the Triple Crown trail.
Oxbow makes his first start since his runner up finish in the Belmont (G1) behind Palace Malice, who came back with a sharp win yesterday in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee won the Preakness (G1) two back in gate to wire fashion as Gary Stevens was able to slow things down early and have plenty left late. The colt is the one to beat, but his price may end up lighter than his 2-1 morning line.
WIN: #7 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 4,7 / 4,5,6,7
TRI: 4,7 / 4,5,6,7 / 1,4,5,6,7
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