Haskell Invitational 2019: Odds and analysis for Saturday's race

July 17, 2019 01:20pm

Maximum Security’s campaign took some interesting turns after he won the Florida Derby (G1) in late March. He crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby and became disqualified, and then lost the ungraded Pegasus Stakes to King for a Day.

In Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth, Maximum Security gets a chance at redemption. But not only is King for a Day present once more, but a few other speed horses are lined up to make sure the pace stays honest.

The Haskell Invitational is carded as Race 12 and goes at 5:47 p.m. ET. See analysis and the official morning line here:

1. King for a Day, 5/2 (Uncle Mo – Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez) – 5: 3-0-1): After flashing talent as a 2-year-old, King for a Day returned this year in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico and won easily over a quality horse in Tone Broke. Next, he upset Maximum Security in the Pegasus Stakes after a pressing trip. He needs to navigate a bit more distance this time, and he did draw the rail, which might make his task more difficult given the speed lined up outside of him. Win contender.

2. Joevia, 10-1 (Shanghai Bobby – Gregory Sacco/Jose Lezcano – 6: 2-2-1): The Belmont Stakes pacesetter ran well enough to lead them into the stretch run and hold third. He also won the local Long Branch Stakes on the lead. But he got hooked in a speed duel in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), which brings up one red flag. If he flaunts his speed here, more than one horse will keep him company. Should he can find a way to endure the speed or sit off a horse or two, he can win. Win contender.

3. Spun to Run, 15-1 (Hard Spun – Juan Carlos Guerrero/Paco Lopez – 6: 2-1-2): Not only does this colt come off a four-month layoff, but his two wins came at Parx in a maiden race and optional claimer. He did win the latter by 7 ¼ lengths, and his ability to sit off other horses will help, but this is an impossible task. Even without considering the layoff, in six starts he shows no stakes experience at all. Toss.

4. Bethlehem Road, 20-1 (Quality Road – Dee Curry/Luis Castro Rodriguez – 4: 3-0-0): His race two starts back in the Parx Spring Derby is visually impressive, as he repelled two different challenges to win on the lead. But stepping up to the Ohio Derby (G3) proved too much, and now he takes on an even more difficult field. Toss.

5. Mucho Gusto, 2-1 (Mucho Macho Man – Bob Baffert/Joe Talamo – 7: 5-1-1): While this colt disappointed in the Sunland Derby (G3) at the same distance, he did run a nice race in the Affirmed Stakes (G3). Despite a wide trip, he still kicked in and won by 2 ¼ lengths over Roadster, who was hyped earlier in the year. But is nine furlongs too long for him? That is a fair question to ask. Considering he will start as the third or fourth choice, perhaps it is worth taking a shot. The pick.

6. Everfast, 10-1 (Take Charge Indy – Dale Romans/Julien Leparoux) – 12: 1-2-1): Late closer once in a while pops up with a good race, as shown when he finished second in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Preakness Stakes. He received generous pace setups in both of those races but still failed to finish the job. In this situation, he will get a nice pace with King for a Day, Maximum Security, Joevia and Bethlehem Road. A spot on the board still feels like his limit. Use underneath.

7. Maximum Security, 8/5 (New Year’s Day – Jason Servis/Luis Saez – 6: 4-1-0): His class is clear, as he won the Florida Derby (G1) and crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby before getting disqualified. In both starts, he enjoyed an uncontested lead. But he failed to receive the same setup in the Pegasus Stakes and ultimately lost to King for a Day. That foe shows up in this spot, and there is other speed with him. While Maximum Security might overcome the adversity, it makes no sense to bet him at the price. Win contender.

The rail draw for King for a Day is disappointing, as he would otherwise be my top pick. He might still overcome it, but it's more difficult to trust him now with all that speed to the outside.

Mucho Gusto is in good form after his two recent wins at Santa Anita and shows enough versatility in his running style to make him a logical selection. Plus, he will offer rare value for a Bob Baffert entrant given Maximum Security's presence.

I'll take the exotics route and use the contenders not named Maximum Security in an exacta, while throwing in Everfast underneath just in case.

But if the expected payoffs are too low, don't be afraid to pass on a seven-horse field.

Exacta wheel: 1,2,5 / 1,2,5,6
Exacta wheel: 5 / 1,2
Exacta: 5 / 6


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