A field of seven line up in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on Saturday, featuring a rematch of the top two finishers in the Pegasus—King for a Day and Maximum Security.
Maximum Security was making his first start since getting disqualified in the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the Pegasus and was sent off at odds of 1-20. That did not stop King for a Day from running him down in the stretch, returning $13.80.
The Haskell winner earns a fees expenses trip the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) as part of the “Win and You’re In” series. The race will be televised on NBC, the telecast getting underway at 5:00 ET.
The Todd Pletcher trained King for a Day drew the rail and is the 5-2 third choice oi the morning line behind Maximum Security at 8-5 and the Bob Baffert trained Mucho Gusto at 2-1.
“This is a big step up from the Pegasus but he’s an enthusiastically training colt, he’s had three solid works and I couldn’t be more delighted with the way he’s coming into the race,” said Pletcher. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the call and will break from the rail.
Maximum Security drew the seven post and has two slow works on the morning tab since getting upset in the Pegasus. Luis Saez has the return call on the colt.
2019 Pegasus Replay
Baffert has saddled a record eight Haskell winners including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. Mucho Gusto is coming off a sharp win in the Affirmed at Santa Anita in his last outing. The colt breaks from the five post with Joe Talamo in from Southern California to ride.
“He shipped really well and he couldn’t be doing any better. After he won last out (in the Affirmed) I thought he was ready for this. He deserves his chance to take on Grade 1 company,” said Baffert.
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The supporting card offers four additional graded stakes: the $200,000 Grade 3, Monmouth Cup at 1 1/8 miles for horses aged three and older; the Grade 3, $150,000 WinStar Matchmaker for fillies and mares three and up at 1 1/8 miles on the grass; the $150,000 Grade 3 Oceanport for horses three and up at 1 1/16 on the turf, and the Grade 3 $150,000 Molly Pitcher for fillies and mares three and older at 1 1/6 miles on the main track.
Let’s head out to Monmouth Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Monmouth Park Race 12 The Haskell Invitational (G1) Post time 5:49 ET
1 King for a Day 5-2
5 Mucho Gusto 2-1
7 Maximum Security 8-5
2 Joevia 10-1
King for a Day
This colt spoiled Maximum Security’s return in the Pegasus last out. The Pletcher trainee prompted the early pace and got by the chalk in the stretch to win by a length at 6-1. The colt is perfect in two starts this year, winning the restricted Sir Barton at Pimlico on Preakness Day in his first start off a 5 ½ month layoff. He showed some ability last year as a juvenile breaking his maiden in his second career start and then running fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in the slop. The son of Uncle Mo appears to be primed for a top effort in his third start off the bench here. Pletcher has won this race three times, the most recent with Verrazano in 2013.
The colt ships in form the west coast for Baffert who holds the record in this race, winning it eight times, most recently with American Pharoah in 2015. The colt earned a career top speed fig last out winning the Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita, his fifth win in second career starts. He beat his stablemate Roadster in that outing. The colt has just one trip at nine furlongs, a third in the Sunland Derby (G3) at 4-5. The colt may not have been wound tight enough for that outing and is on the improve. He has enough pedigree to handle the distance, by Mucho Macho Man out of a Giant’s Causeway mare. The colt has worked sharply since his last outing and he should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace.
This colt burned some cash last out in the Pegasus at 1-20, unable to hold off our top pick. The colt was making his first start since the Kentucky Derby (G1) where he was DQ’d for interference at the top of the stretch. He has earned four consecutive triple digit Beyers, including winning the Florida Derby (G1), not bad for a colt that broke his maiden for a $16,000 tag. His two works since his last outing are slow but that is not unusual for the Servis barn. The colt likely gets bet down from his 8-5 morning line and I don’t think he has nearly as much upside as his main two rivals in here.
WIN: King for a Day to win at 5-2 or better.
EXACTA: 1,5 / 1,2,5,7
TRIFECTA: 1,5 / 1,2,5,7 / 1,2,5,6,7