Most horseplayers live for trying to beat heavy favorites, but Sunday’s $1.75 million Haskell invitational (G1) has a different feel despite having a prohibitive chalk in American Pharoah.
Most of the time I can find a legitimate reason to play against the chalk, but I am not having much luck looking for a way to beat the Triple Crown winner as he takes on seven overmatched foes.
Five of the seven foes he faces have not reached the plateau of earning a triple digit Beyer Speed Figure, something the Bob Baffert trainee has in all seven of his victories.
There are two that have earned triple digit Beyers-Upstart and Competitive Edge, and they are the two that might seem to have the best shot of pulling off the upset.
Upstart makes his first start since running dead least in the Kentucky Derby (G1). The Rick Violette trainee earned a 108 Beyer in his runner up finish in the Florida Derby (G1) and has earned two other triple digit Beyers, his 102 for his runner up in the Champagne (G1) as a juvenile and his 105 in his Holy Bull (G2) victory.
Competitive Edge won his first four career starts and earned a 102 Beyer for his win in the Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill Downs. He lost for the first time last out with a dull sixth place finish in the Woody Stephens (G2) as the betting favorite.
If either runs back to their career tops they could make it a race, but American Pharoah seems to be coming into the Haskell in sharp form, and his five previous races do not seem to have taken much out of him.
The colt has won his five starts this year by a combined 27 ¾ lengths. His only true tough race was in the Kentucky Derby (G1) where he won by a length. He won the final two jewels of the Triple Crown by a comfortable 12 ½ lengths combined.
So it certainly looks like a bridgejumpers dream in the Haskell.
Today’s Haskell will be broadcast live on NBC at 5:00 ET and the race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In addition to a big day on the Jersey Shore, the Spa offers up an 11-race card that features the $200,000 Shuvee Handicap (G3) which matches up last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) champ Untapable with Stopchargingmaria, who won a pair of Grade 1 races at the Spa last summer.
Saratoga Race 10 The Shuvee Handicap G3 (6:07 ET)
5 Stopchargingmaria 2-1
4 Untapable 7-5
3 House Rules 5-1
6 Tiz Windy 8-1
Analysis: Stopchargingmaria was off a beat slow when bobbling coming out of the gate and came with a good late run to win the DuPont Distaff (G3) at Pimlico. That snapped a two race losing streak and she is back on her favorite surface. Last year here she won the CCA Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1) over the main track and has won three of four with a second in her career here. She owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and may have the tactical advantage over our second choice in here.
Untapable was nearly unstoppable last year winning six of seven starts, but she has lost two of three this year and was no match for Wedding Toast last out in the Ogden Phipps (G1), beaten five lengths. The extra ground here will suit her as she won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at today’s distance last fall at Santa Anita. She gets hammered at the betting windows every time out and will be more of the same here.
WIN: #5 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 4,5 / 3,4,5
TRI: no play
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