Who can get over the hump?
Three horses who finished second in their last outings — Authentic, Dr Post and Ny Traffic — are the heavy favorites in a seven-horse field for Saturday’s $1 million Grade I Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park.
New Jersey online horse betting fans can access the action for the Haskell and a star-studded, stakes-filled card that begins at noon via 4NJBETS, powered by TVG.
Post time for the Haskell is approximately 5:45 p.m.
The lineup for the 2020 Haskell
Authentic, who finished second to Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby, is the 4-5 favorite in the 53rd edition of this race and drew post 2.
Dr Post, runner-up to Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes, drew the rail and is 5-2.
Ny Traffic, second in the Louisiana Derby and Matt Winn, gets the outside post and 7-2 odds.
Rounding out the field are:
- Jesus’ Team at 15-1 from post 3
- Ancient Warrior at 20-1 odds from the 4 post
- Fame to Famous at 30-1 from post 5
- Lebda, breaking from the 6 post at 20-1
Authentic eyes the competition
Hall-of-Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose eight Haskell triumphs are the most in this event, addressed select media members Wednesday. Baffert has Authentic, who was beaten as a 1-2 favorite in the Santa Anita Derby.
Authentic bore out badly out of the gate and lost perhaps 3-4 lengths in that race. The Bay Colt was then outgunned in the stretch by Honor A.P.
“He had a rough trip,” Baffert said. “He was wide, a little rank. It did cost him. We like to make excuses for our horses, just like our children,” he laughed.
Baffert is central to one of the signature Haskells in Monmouth Park history. Five years ago, he brought Triple Crown-winning American Pharoah here, drawing more than 60,000 fans.
American Pharoah, the first winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 37 years, was a prohibitive 1-9 choice for the Haskell. He won easily.
It was American Pharoah’s first race since the Belmont Stakes and the first time Monmouth Park ever showcased a reigning Triple Crown champion.
“I was nervous that day,” Baffert told NJGamblingSites. “You don’t want to get the Triple Crown winner beat. I’ll never forget this exciting visual. When the horses were all going into the gate, somebody told me, ‘Look at the rail.’ I saw something I had never witnessed before. The jockey room was empty. All the jockeys that were there to run had come out to watch this race.
“It was also a memorable day because the Monmouth Park fans were unbelievable, they got behind the horse 100%. I told Victor Espinoza (the jockey) not to win by too much, just let him roll into the stretch. He could have broken the track record that day.
“I also loved the race call saying ‘The party continues’ as he crossed the line.”
Baffert’s record eight Haskell victories came in 2015 (American Pharoah), 2014 (Bayern), 2012 (Paynter), 2011 (Coil), 2010 (Lookin at Lucky), 2005 (Roman Ruler), 2002 (War Emblem) and 2001 (Point Given).
He almost made it nine last year when Mucho Gusto made a spirited all-out move and nearly defeated the winner, Maximum Security. He was just shy and finished second.
“The Haskell is a prestige type of race for me,” Baffert said. “People ask me my secret, and it’s just that I brought my best horses there. I have never been able to win with the horse that wasn’t the best.
“Last year, Mucho Gusto ran the best race of his life, but Maximum Security could have gotten around there twice and not given up the lead. We just were not going to get by him.”
Ironically, Baffert now handles Maximum Security, whose previous trainer, Jason Servis, was indicted in March for alleged doping of horses. Then ownership brought in Baffert.
Rivals for the Haskell crown
The chief rival for Baffert in this year’s Haskell is Dr Post, trained by Todd Pletcher. Dr Post was made the 5-2 second choice by Monmouth Park oddsmaker Brad Thomas.
Dr Post finished second in the Belmont Stakes on June 20, making a late run to pass front-running horses that had gotten caught up in a speed duel.
Sapphie Joseph, the trainer of Ny Traffic, said his horse has been steadily improving workout by workout. Ny Traffic has run gamely in all of his races. Joseph said that Paco Lopez, who will ride Ny Traffic, revealed that “he was thrilled” with the outside post position.
The remaining horses must improve substantially to be competitive. They have been failing to win in the lower-level competitions.
Jesus’ Team ran a game second to Sole Volante in an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park. However, Sole Volante would later run out of the money at the Belmont Stakes.
Ancient Warrior is winless in four trips this season at allowance optional claiming.
Fame for Famous has not finished in the money in four races this season, including a dull effort at Monmouth Park.
Lebda won a couple of races at Laurel Park but finished sixth in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby in June.
Official draw for Haskell 2020
|Dr Post||Todd Pletcher||Joe Bravo||5-2|
|Authentic||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith||4-5|
|Jesus' Team||Jose D'Angelo||Nik Juarez||15-1|
|Ancient Warrior||Jerry Hollendorfer||Trevor McCarthy||20-1|
|Fame to Famous||John P. McAllen||Jose C. Ferrer||30-1|
|Lebda||Claudio Gonzalez||Alex Cintron||20-1|
|Ny Traffic||Saffie Joseph Jr.||Paco Lopez||7-2|
What the Haskell winner earns
The Haskell ensures the winner a berth in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland and most likely the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Toward that end, BetMakers, in partnership with Monmouth, is offering a $1 million bonus to the connections of any horse that wins the Haskell, Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Saturday’s card at Monmouth features five other stakes, four graded. They include:
- $250,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3)
- $300,000 Monmouth Cup Stakes (G3)
- $300,000 United Nations Stakes (G1T)
- $150,000 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (G3T)
- $75,000 Wolf Hill Stakes