Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park
The Haskell Stakes (G1)has retained its $1 million purse and is still also part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series that offers the winner a place in the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 7. However, Monmouth Park’s signature race has undergone some changes in 2020. No longer an invitational race, the mile and eighth Grade 1 was open to any 3-year-old through the typical stakes nomination process. Also, when the Kentucky Derby date was moved, the Haskell became an official stop on the road to the Derby offering 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Haskell will not be run in front of the usual overflow crowd. Following strict guidelines established by the New Jersey Governor, there will only be 750 spectators on hand including about 250 owners of horses on the Saturday card and 500 spectators.
The Haskell hats, which are one of the most popular giveaway items at any racetrack in the country, will still be available this year. Fans not in attendance will be able to get them online or if they visit the Monmouth Park gift shop during the race meeting.
As if often the case, trainer Bob Baffert will have the favorite in the race in Authentic as he goes for his ninth victory in the Haskell dating back to 2001 when he first won with Point Given. His most recent win came in 2015 after American Pharoah became a Triple Crown champion.
Here is a full-field analysis of the Haskell with the official Monmouth Park morning line odds.
Dr Post [ML 5-2 – Quality Road – T. Pletcher/J. Bravo – 4: 2-1-0 - $261,635] The lightly raced son of Quality Road has been improving as the year has progressed for trainer Todd Pletcher. He moved from an off the pace victory in the Unbridled at Gulfstream to running second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) losing to only the division leader Tiz the Law. It looks he will get plenty of pace to set up his closing move and that makes him very dangerous as Pletcher goes for his fourth Haskell victory. Top Choice
Authentic [ML 4-5 – Into Mischief – B. Baffert/M. Smith – 4: 3-1-0 - $411,200] Authentic currently sits in third on the Kentucky Derby points list with 100 which came when he was second in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) behind Honor A. P. and won the Sham (G3) and the San Felipe (G2). He will make his first start outside of California and will try and give his trainer Bob Baffert his ninth victory in the signature race at Monmouth Park. He has pressed the pace in all four his starts and will have plenty of company on the front end in here. He is likely to be a heavy favorite. Win Contender
Jesus’ Team [ML 15-1 – Tapiture – J. F. D’Angelo/N. Juarez– 7: 2-2-1 - $48,640] This longshot has two claiming victories to his credit with both coming this spring at Gulfstream Park while pressing the pace in a maiden race and then in a N2L condition for a $25,000 tag. He is grossly overmatched in the Grade 1 Haskell. Toss
Ancient Warrior [ML 20-1 – Constitution – J. Hollendorfer/T. McCarthy – 5: 1-0-2 - $50,130] This son of Constitution was a debut winner last November at Del Mar at odds of 2-1 while racing on the front end. Since then, he has tried allowance company four times while flashing speed and fading in sprint races. Distance and class seem to be serious obstacles. Toss
Fame to Famous [ML 30-1 – Tapit – J. McAllen/J. Ferrer – 8: 1-1-1 - $68,097] Owned and trained by John McAllen, all but one of his starts were on the turf. Last year, he broke his maiden at Belmont Park going a mile on the grass while stalking the pace but has not won since. His only try on the dirt was a last place finish in the Risen Star (G2) back in February. Toss
Lebda [ML 20-1 – Raison d’Etat – C. Gonzalez/A. Cintron – 9: 4-1-2 - $224,525] Lebda has four career victories which is the most for any horse in this field. Two of those wins were in listed stakes races at his home base at Laurel Park. Last seen he pressed the pace in the Ohio Derby (G3) and faded to sixth in the field of 13. As a 2-year-old he did run third in the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. Use underneath
Ny Traffic [ML 7-2 – Cross Traffic – S. Joseph Jr./P. Lopez – 8: 2-2-2 - $365,470] This New York-bred ships up to New Jersey from Gulfstream Park to continue his run on the Kentucky Derby trail. With 70 Derby qualifying points in hand, he probably has secured a spot in the Run for the Roses already. In his last three starts he has two seconds and a third in Derby preps. Most recently, he had pressed the pace and took the lead in the stretch in the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill but was passed by Maxfield. Another good effort should be expected in the Haskell. Use in trifecta
Summary: It has been five years since Bob Baffert won the Haskell, including last year when eventual Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner Mucho Gusto lost to Maximum Security in the heat-delayed edition of the race.
Authentic, who will be a heavy favorite for Baffert, does his best running when he is on or near the lead. He should have company out front since several others have the same preferred running style. Authentic will have to ship out of California for the first time and face a negative pace scenario.
The improving horse from the Pletcher barn, Dr Post, should get an ideal set-up for his late running style. Dr Post is my top choice to upset Authentic.