Weekend Watch: A hot Haskell, Catalina Cruiser hold spotlight

July 19, 2019 11:27am
Weekend Watch: A hot Haskell, Catalina Cruiser hold spotlight
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Each weekend, Horse Racing Nation previews the top races to tune into coast to coast and runs down the main contenders. All times are Eastern, with this edition covering what's left Saturday of graded stakes action in the U.S. after a heat wave forced cancellation of a number of tracks.

Monmouth Park, Race 5: 1:51 p.m.

Divisidero will be looking for his first victory since taking last summer’s Arlington Handicap (G3) as the 3-2 morning line favorite in the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes. The now-7-year old has been competitive since that last win but just has not managed to get his picture taken. He likes the distance and the track, and if he can handle the heat, he should be a winner. Second choice Projected has not won a race since September 30, 2017. But like Divisidero, this 7-year old gelding has remained competitive. In case you were wondering if there is a theme, there is. Third choice Just Howard has not won since August but has, you guessed it, remained in good form. The other half of the field is allowance types, so one of the aforementioned three should finally get a long overdue win.

Monmouth, Race 8: 3:27 p.m.

Midnight Bisou
is the odds-on favorite in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher Stakes for 3-year old and upwards fillies and mares -- and for good reason. Trained by Steve Asmussen, this filly rides a four race win streak, making her undefeated in 2019. She is also a perfect 8-for-8 at the Molly Pitcher distance of 1 1/16 miles. Chad Brown-trained Electric Forest, winner of the Doubledogdare (G3), will need to take a huge step forward in order to win this for Stonestreet Stables. Brown will also send out Grade 1-placed Pacific Wind, but like her stablemate, she will have to run a career-best race here. Coach Rocks steps back up into graded company after finally getting a confidence-boosting victory at the allowance level in her last start.

Monmouth, Race 10: 4:29 p.m.

Godolphin Mile (G2) winner
Coal Front is the 8-5 favorite to win the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup Stakes. This will be his first attempt at nine furlongs after he was most recently seventh in the loaded Met Mile (G1). While Coal Front certainly has the class, this will be a good spot to play against him. Second choice Monongahela enters off a win in the 1 1/16-mile Iselin (G3) on this track and is 4: 0-3-0 at the 1 1/8-mile distance. Third choice Bal Harbour has never been worse than third at Monmouth, while War Story remains an honest runner who could certainly spring an upset at this level.

Monmouth, Race 11: 5:06 p.m.

Chad Brown will certainly be hoping to get
Competitionofideas back on track off two straight runner-up performances to begin her 2019 campaign. Homerique, who Competitionofideas lost to in her last two starts, was most recently third behind Sistercharlie and Rushing Fall in the Diana (G1), making this filly tough in this spot, the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes at 1 1/8-mile on the lawn. Kelly Breen will send out second choice Valedictorian, who most recently won the Eatontown (G3). Brazilian Group 1 winner Touriga will make her U.S. debut off a nine month layoff for new trainer Graham Motion and is a well considered 3-1 on the morning line.

Monmouth, Race 12: 5:47 p.m.

Maximum Security
will try to turn the tables on King for a Day when the two meet again in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. The disqualified Kentucky Derby winner was upset in the Pegasus after lunging and stumbling at the start. Maximum Security drew the outside post in the field of seven while King for a Day will break from the rail. Should Maximum Security win here, it will go a long way toward the Eclipse Award race. Bob Baffert-trained Mucho Gusto should be a tough rival, having never been worse than third in his career. The distance will be a big question, but he has the breeding to go long and showed the ability to rate last time in California. Also in the field of seven are Preakness Stakes runner-up Everfast and Belmont Stakes third-place finisher Joevia.

Del Mar, Race 4: 6:30 p.m.

Catalina Cruiser
will stretch back out to 1 1/16 miles to defend his Grade 2 San Diego Handicap title. Now 5 years old, the son of Union Rags won this event last year to emerge as a top older horse for trainer John Sadler and owner Hronis Racing, who also had eventual champion Accelerate in the division. Catalina Cruiser wound up in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile rather than Classic, but could go a ways toward proving he belongs with the best on Saturday. He enters off a victory going 6 1/2 furlongs in Belmont Park's True North (G2). Five others are entered to take on this talented runner, chief among them graded stakes winners Dr. Dorr and Core Beliefs.

Del Mar, Race 8: 8:30 p.m.

Royal Ascot alumnus
Stillwater Cove tops the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes for 3-year old fillies going a mile on turf. The daughter of Quality Road has not won a race in nearly a year but has been training forwardly for Wesley Ward. I personally prefer Maxim Rate on the cutback in distance. This filly won the mile Senorita (G3) earlier this year but was fifth in the nine-furlong Honeymoon (G3). Mucho Unusual enters on a two-race win streak, with both of those victories coming at a flat mile. This will be another step up in class for the Mucho Macho Man filly, however, as she began her career in state-bred company.

Look for a second edition of the Weekend Watch on Saturday highlighted by a rescheduled Saratoga card led by Sunday's Coaching Club American Oaks (G1).


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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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