Haskell Stakes 2021: Odds, picks, PPs, preview

Haskell Stakes 2021: Odds, picks, PPs, preview
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

The runners-up from each 2021 Triple Crown event and a flashy allowance winner headline a contentious Haskell Stakes renewal Saturday.

Belmont Stakes runner-up Hot Rod Charlie is the 6-5 morning-line favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell. Post time from Monmouth Park is 5:47 p.m. EDT, with NBC showing the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds.

The Haskell awards its victor a “win-and-you’re-in” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Del Mar. Authentic swept both those events in 2020, taking the postponed Kentucky Derby in between for good measure.

Hot Rod Charlie was a valiant second June 5 in the Belmont. The Oxbow colt set swift early fractions, dispatched fellow early runner Rock Your World, then locked heads in a stretch duel with Essential Quality but came up 1¼ lengths shy in what the chart called “a gutsy effort.”

Trainer Doug O’Neill seeks his first Haskell victory with Hot Rod Charlie, the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner running for a second graded-stakes score. Jockey Flavien Prat stays aboard Saturday.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Mandaloun (2-1) is the second choice on the morning line. Trainer Brad Cox sent the Risen Star Stakes (G2) hero to Monmouth last month for the track’s Haskell prep, the Pegasus Stakes, and he won by a neck at 3-10 odds.

The third American Classic runner-up in the Haskell field Saturday is Midnight Bourbon (9-2), who was second to Rombauer in the Preakness Stakes. Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Lecomte Stakes (G3) winner also ran sixth in the Kentucky Derby, finishing behind both Mandaloun (second) and Hot Rod Charlie (third).

Todd Pletcher trainee Following Sea is a newcomer to stakes company. The Runhappy colt won impressively on second asking in April for former trainer Bob Baffert, then took a Belmont Park allowance last month for Pletcher in geared-down fashion.

Here is a look at the 2021 Haskell Stakes field (trainer and jockey in parentheses) with morning-line odds:

1. Following Sea (Todd Pletcher, Joel Rosario), 3-1

2. Antigravity (Jerry Hollendorfer, David Cohen), 30-1

3. Mandaloun (Brad Cox, Florent Geroux), 2-1

4. Hot Rod Charlie (Doug O’Neill, Flavien Prat), 6-5

5. Pickin’ Time (Kelly Breen, Nik Juarez), 20-1

6. Midnight Bourbon (Steve Asmussen, Paco Lopez), 9-2

7. Basso (Gregg Sacco, Isaac Castillo), 30-1

TimeformUS’ pace projections show Following Sea going out to a lead under jockey Joel Rosario in a race favoring a horse on or near the early lead. Note that Hot Rod Charlie will race Saturday without blinkers.

For more information on the Haskell Stakes and some of Saturday’s other big events, visit Horse Racing Nation’s free past performances page.

Haskell links

Matt Shifman offers a full-field analysis for the Haskell Stakes. See which lightly raced 3-year-old he labels as an “interesting wild card.”

Laurie Ross and Ashley Tamulonis go head-to-head handicapping the Haskell Stakes. Both handicappers pick the same superfecta, with a Kentucky Derby runner on top.

Reinier Macatangay writes about why Midnight Bourbon is likely to offer value in the Haskell.

A win by Midnight Bourbon would put trainer Steve Asmussen one step closer toward breaking Dale Baird’s record for North American training wins.

Trainer Doug O’Neill will try for his first Haskell Stakes victory Saturday. See why he and his team chose to do “a chancy thing” and take blinkers off Hot Rod Charlie.

For young jockey Isaac Castillo, Saturday’s Haskell Stakes card represents the opportunity of a lifetime. He will ride long shots Oceans Map in the United Nations Stakes (G1) and Basso in the Haskell.

This week on HorseCenter, hosts Shifman and Brian Zipse preview the Haskell Stakes. The duo also analyzes opening weekends of the Del Mar and Saratoga meets.

The Haskell and three other Monmouth Park stakes are part of an all-graded stakes $0.20 Pick 6 sequence.

J. Keeler Johnson ranks the four greatest Haskell Stakes winners. With names like Point Given and Serena’s Song missing the cut, you know the top four includes legendary names.

Monmouth Park and BetMakers Technology Group are sponsoring a $1 million bonus for any horse that sweeps the Haskell Stakes, Travers Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Other Saturday stakes

Courtesy of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, here is a look at other graded stakes taking place Saturday across the U.S. All times are EDT.

Related: Saturday Plays: Diana, Sanford, Haskell and more

1:52 p.m. – $150,000 Matchmaker Stakes (G3), Monmouth Park, TVG

Juddmonte’s Juliet Foxtrot leads the field of seven fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles in the Matchmaker Stakes. Juliet Foxtrot, trained by Brad Cox, has won four graded stakes, including the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland on April 10. She went off at 1-2 in the Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs on June 12 and had a clear lead at the sixteenth pole before being passed by Mintd and finishing second by a half-length. Juliet Foxtrot will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione from post 5. Four starters in the Matchmaker are trained by Chad Brown, led by defending champion Nay Lady Nay, who is owned by First Row Partners and Hidden Brook Farm. Ridden by Paco Lopez from post 6, Nay Lady Nay, winless in two starts this year, finished sixth in her last start, the Eatontown (G3) over the Monmouth course June 20. Klaravich Stables’ Counterparty Risk, third in the Eatontown, won the Endeavour Stakes (G3) in February for Brown. Nik Suarez rides from post 3. Repole Stable’s 5-year-old Always Shopping, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the La Prevoyante (G3) at Gulfstream in January. Florent Geroux has the mount breaking from post 1.

3:29 p.m. – $300,000 Monmouth Cup Stakes (G3), Monmouth Park, TVG 

Leading the seven-horse field for the 1 1/8-mile Monmouth Cup is John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley’s Ny Traffic, who came within a nose of reaching future Horse of the Year Authentic at the wire in last year’s Haskell Stakes (G1). That was the highpoint of 2020 for the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained son of Cross Traffic. Afterward, Ny Traffic finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Preakness Stakes. This year, Ny Traffic won an allowance optional claiming race at Belmont Park on May 2 and finished second by a length to 79-1 Informative in Monmouth’s Salvator Mile (G3) on June 12. Tyler Gaffalione has the mount from post 4. St. Elias Stable’s 4-year-old Dr. Post, third in last year’s Haskell, won the Westchester (G3) at Belmont Park on May 1. Joel Rosario rides Dr. Post from post 5. The most impressive recent winner entered in the Monmouth Cup is Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s New York-bred Bank It, who drew off to a 13¼-length romp in the black-type, one-mile Commentator Stakes at Belmont Park on May 31 for trainer Steve Asmussen. Now a six-time winner, Bank It will be ridden by Paco Lopez from post 7. 

4:38 p.m. – $250,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3), Monmouth Park, TVG

Kueber Racing, Barlar, Madaket Stables and Little Red Feather Racing’s Pennsylvania-bred Vault disappointed as the 3-1 second choice in last year’s Molly Pitcher Stakes, finishing sixth. In this year’s renewal at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares, Vault, trained by Brad Cox, faces six rivals. Ridden from post 3 by Tyler Gaffalione, Vault won the Ruffian (G2) at Belmont Park on May 2 before finishing sixth in the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs. E.V. Racing Stables’ 4-year-old Water White finished second to Vault in the Ruffian by 1 3/4 lengths but trailed five rivals last time out in the Ogden Phipps (G1). Trained by Rudy Rodriquez, Water White will be ridden by Hector Diaz Jr. from post 7. Joseph Allen’s 4-year-old Mrs. Danvers won last year’s Comely Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, and this year, finished second in the Top Flight Stakes. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Mrs. Danvers will be ridden by Paco Lopez from post 2. 

5:12 p.m. – $500,000 United Nations Stakes (G1), Monmouth Park, NBC

The 7-year-old Arklow, a five-time graded-stakes winner, leads a 10-horse field as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the United Nations Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. Owned by Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and the Estate of Peter Coneway, and trained by Brad Cox, Arklow finished fourth in last year’s United Nations as the 8-5 favorite. He was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland but rebounded to win the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (G2) at Del Mar on Nov. 27. Arklow made a successful 2021 debut May 15, winning the 1½-mile Louisville Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. Arklow will be ridden by Florent Geroux from post 1. Trainer Chad Brown has three starters in the race, headed by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s 5-year-old Tribhuvan, who finished second in the Manhattan Stakes (G1) on June 5. Flavien Prat has the mount from post 10. Waterford Stable’s Winters Back, trained by Todd Pletcher, finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Monmouth Stakes (G3) on June 5. David Cohen rides from post 6.

5:40 p.m. – $150,000 Sanford Stakes (G3), Saratoga, FOX

Hall of Famer trainer Todd Pletcher, who will have his induction ceremony into Racing’s Hall of Fame next month in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has won the Sanford Stakes a record seven times. In Saturday’s 106th Sanford for 2-year-olds run at six furlongs, Pletcher saddles Repole Stable and Gainesway Stable’s Wit, who won a six-furlong maiden special weight June 5 at Belmont by six lengths. A son of Practical Joke, Wit, the 8-5 morning line favorite in a 12-horse field, will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. from post 1. Hall of famer John Velazquez, who holds the Sanford Stakes record for most wins by jockey with seven, has the mount aboard Breeze Easy Stable’s Headline Report. Trained by Wesley Ward, Headline Report won a 4½-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland on April 23 as the odds-on favorite with Velazquez up. Headline Report, a son of Gormley, will break from post 9. Mueller Thoroughbred Stable’s Candy Landing, trained by Brendan Walsh, won on debut in a 5½-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on June 11 by 4½ lengths at 17-1. The son of Twirling Candy will be ridden by James Graham from post 2. 

6:03 p.m. – $100,000 Arlington Stakes (G3), Arlington Park, TVG 

Michael Hui’s 7-year-old gelding Zulu Alpha, a 12-time winner, is the one to beat making his seasonal debut in the Arlington Park Stakes on turf against seven rivals, headlining Million Preview Day. Trained by Mike Maker, Zulu Alpha, winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) at Gulfstream Park in January 2020, went on to capture two Grade 2 races in the Mac Diarmida, also at Gulfstream, and the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland. Unfortunately, a leg injury in September following a third-place finish in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) put a stop on the rest of his season. David Cabrera has the mount from post 2. Lothenbach Stables’ Captivating Moon won the Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) in February for trainer Chris Block, but has finished out of the money in his last four starts, including a fourth-place finish over the Arlington surface in the listed Hanshin Cup Stakes at one mile June 26. Declan Carroll has the mount from post 8. 

6:16 p.m. ­– $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1), Saratoga, FOX

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown has saddled the winners of the last six runnings of the Diana Stakes. Looking to extend the streak in a field of eight fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the turf, Brown is saddling Peter Brant’s 5-2 morning line favorite Lemista and Juddmonte’s Pocket Square. Lemista, a 4-year-old daughter of Raven’s Pass, won four races in Ireland, including the Kilboy Estate Stakes (G2) last year at The Curragh. In her U.S. debut in Belmont Park’s 1 1/16-mile Beaugay Stakes (G3) on May 8, Lemista finished second by a neck to Harvey’s Lil Goil. Lemista will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. from post 7. Pocket Square, who raced in Europe the past two years, won her first race in the U.S. on April 7 at Keeneland, taking a 1 1/16-mile allowance by 2¼ lengths over 10 rivals. She was the 5-2 favorite in Belmont’s Longines Just a Game (G1) on June 5 but lacked a response in the stretch and finished fifth. John Velazquez has the mount, breaking from post 2. The Estate of Harvey A. Clarke and Paul Braverman’s 4-year-old Harvey’s Lil Goil has won five races, including the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) last October at Keeneland for trainer Bill Mott. A daughter of American Pharoah, Harvey’s Lil Goil closed out the year with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland. Following her Beaugay win, Harvey’s Lil Goil finished fifth in the New York Stakes (G2) at Belmont on June 4. Junior Alvarado has the mount from post 5. Godolphin’s one-two finishers from the Just a Game, Althiqa and Summer Romance, are back for trainer Charlie Appleby. Althiqa defeated Summer Romance by three-quarters of a length in the Just a Game. Manny Franco will ride Althiqa from post 8, while Luis Saez has the mount on Summer Romance from post 6.

7:11 p.m. – $100,000 Modesty Stakes (G3), Arlington Park, TVG

Twelve fillies and mares have been entered in the Modesty going 1 1/16 miles on turf and La Nora’s 6-year-old mare Joy Epifora is the 7-2 morning line favorite. Trained by Ignacio Correas IV, Joy Epifora finished second in a 1 1/8-mile optional allowance claiming race at Churchill Downs in her last start June 13. After winning two races in France last year, Hunter Valley Farm, Debra O’Connor and Marc Detampel’s Family Way had a second-place finish in an allowance race at Keeneland in April, and then won a 1 1/8-mile optional allowance claiming race at Churchill Downs on May 21. Adam Beschizza will ride, breaking from post 7. Ballybrit Stable’s 6-year-old Illinois homebred Bramble Queen, a nine-time winner, makes her second start of the year for trainer Michael Dini. In her 2021 debut May 23 at Belmont Park, Bramble Queen finished fifth in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claiming race.   

9:30 p.m. – $250,000 San Diego Handicap (G2), Del Mar, TVG

Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm’s 5-year-old gelding Royal Ship is the 9-5 morning line favorite in a nine-horse field for the San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. Since arriving from Brazil last year and making four consecutive starts on turf, Royal Ship found a home on the main track at Santa Anita Park for trainer Richard Mandella, winning the Californian (G2) on April 17, and finishing second by a head to Country Grammer in the 1¼-mile Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) on May 31. Mike Smith has the mount from post 4. CRK Stable’s Express Train, third in the Hollywood Gold Cup, won Santa Anita’s San Pasqual Stakes (G2) in January and finished second by a half-length to Idol in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in March. Trained by John Shirreffs, and ridden from post 5 by Juan Hernandez, Express Train broke his maiden in 2019 at Del Mar and won an allowance optional claiming race over the track last year. Jim Daniell and Donna Daniell’s 4-year-old Florida-bred Rushie, finished second in the Oaklawn Mile Stakes on May 10 and was fourth last time out in the Hollywood Gold Cup for trainer Michael McCarthy. Umberto Rispoli has the mount from post 1.

Haskell preview

From Lynne Snierson/Monmouth Park communications

For the first time in the storied history of the $1 million Haskell Stakes, the runners-up in all three jewels in the Triple Crown series will line up in the starting gate when the one of North America’s most prestigious Grade 1 races is renewed for the 54th time at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

On the strength of his valiant second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes in the final leg of the Triple Crown last time out, the Doug O’Neill-trained Hot Rod Charlie has been installed as the 6-5 morning line favorite (from post position 4) in the field of seven talented 3-year-olds.

Despite their considerable accomplishments so far this season, none of the colts has earned a Grade 1 victory. The mile-and-an-eighth Haskell, where champions validate their greatness, presents the opportunity to reach that top level, and it also offers the chance for an all-expenses-paid spot to the Breeders’ Cup Classic as part of the “win-and-you're-in” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

The Haskell is the highlight of Monmouth Park’s 48-stakes race schedule, and it marks the beginning of the all-important second half of the season to determine the divisional champion and potentially the eventual Horse of the Year.

Authentic launched his 2020 Horse of the Year campaign last year by winning the Haskell Stakes before going on to win the Kentucky Derby (re-scheduled to Sept. 5 due to COVID) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“To win the Haskell would be huge. Just huge,” said reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, who will send out 2-1 morning-line second choice Mandaloun, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby.

Mandaloun, a Juddmonte Farms homebred, won Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park in his last start June 13 while prepping for the Haskell.

A Kentucky-bred son of Into Mischief, Mandaloun will depart from post 3 under Florent Geroux, who has ridden the Grade 2 winner in each of his previous seven starts.

“He’s a good horse and he’s been training extremely well,” said Cox. “This (level) is where we belong. I love this horse.”

Breaking just to his outside in post 4 will be Hot Rod Charlie and Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the Belmont and for the Kentucky Derby, where the horse and rider were third, just one length behind Mandaloun.

“I think the draw sets it up perfectly for us,” said Roadrunner Racing’s Greg Helm, the owner of the colt along with Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable, and William Strauss. “Charlie is a pretty versatile runner. Obviously in his last couple of races he went out strong. We’ll see what Flavien feels like coming out of the gate, but I imagine it will be a similar race as the last couple.”

Spendthrift Farm’s homebred Following Sea, an especially promising colt recently transferred to the stable of newly elected Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, drew the rail and Joel Rosario gets the return call. The son of champion sprinter Runhappy has won his last two starts by a combined 12¼ lengths but is stretching out from 6½ furlongs for the first time as well as attempting a two-turn race and stakes company for the first time.

Also expected to draw considerable interest is Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred Midnight Bourbon, the Preakness Stakes runner-up. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the colt has yet to win a graded stakes but has been impressive while competing against the top of the three-year-old crop all season.

Midnight Bourbon, a half-brother to 2017 Haskell winner Girvin, will have seven-time Monmouth Park leading rider Paco Lopez aboard and depart from post 6.

“I expect Midnight Bourbon to break well, and I think a sharp break for him is essential,” said Asmussen, who won the 2009 Haskell with Rachel Alexandra, only the second filly to win this race. “There’s speed in the race and I think that will make it very interesting to the first turn.”

The rest of the field is all locally based and includes Antigravity (post 2, David Cohen riding), Pickin' Time (post 5, Nik Juarez), and Basso (post 7, Isaac Castillo).

Post time for the Haskell, which will be televised by NBC Sports, is approximately 5:45 p.m. EDT and will be run as the 12th of 14 races on the card. First post on Haskell day is at noon.

The supporting card offers four additional graded stakes: the $500,000 United Nations (G1), the $300,000 Monmouth Cup (G3), the $250,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3), and the $150,000 Matchmaker Stakes (G3).

Gates open at 9 a.m. Haskell day. Parking is free.

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