Who will step up as a dominant 3-year-old? Saturday’s $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes opens that question to Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon and Hot Rod Charlie, respective second-place finishers in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Deciding on Haskell picks for your betting card will start with handicapping that trio.
It is the first time in the history of the Haskell, first run in 1968, that the runners-up of all three Triple Crown races line up in the gate. This prestigious Grade I event guarantees the winner entry into the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.
Post time is 5:45 p.m.
Who obtains the guarantee? Let’s examine the field and betting-odds from Wednesday’s draw.
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Haskell Stakes Morning Line Odds
|Post||Horse||Morning Line Odds||Jockey|
|1||Following Sea||3-1||Joel Rosario|
|4||Hot Rod Charlie||6-5||Flavien Prat|
|5||Pickin Time||20-1||Nik Juarez|
|6||Midnight Bourbon||9-2||Paco Lopez|
What to know before making your Haskell picks
1. Following Sea 3-1
Has not proven himself yet on the class angle but is being respected, possibly in light of the value of early speed at Monmouth Park. Coming out of a 6 1/2-furlong race, should be the pacesetter here. How valuable is that speed? He withstood challenges after a blistering half-mile in 44.79 and three-quarters in 1:08.82 at Belmont Park in June. He won for fun, showing credentials that he would ultimately be ready for a bigger stage.
Will this be the right stage? He’s going from four-horse field and allowance company to facing the nation’s top 3-year-olds and must stretch out significantly to 1 1/8 miles. Thought odds would be a little higher.
Speed factor could influence a front-runner like Hot Rod Charlie. Will run well, but for how far?
2. Antigravity 30-1
Good style, yes. Does he have the substance? Antigravity has a 1-mile victory at the track, passing five horses and swinging wide before prevailing in the stretch. It was a confident ride for Paco Lopez, who now steps over to take Midnight Bourbon. Steps way, way up here from allowance optional claiming. Needs a speed duel up front. Handily put away Basso, another entrant in this race. Picks up pieces, maybe.
3. Mandaloun 2-1
You have to like the fact he has a race over the track, even if it was a vulnerable-looking victory in the Pegasus on June 13. Mandaloun started last in the field of five, unable to break through an early gap between horses. At 1-5 odds, he did show the heart to run down the leaders. But New Jersey’s no-whip rule made an impact, as Mandaloun was nearly overtaken by Weyburn after looking to be safely in the lead.
When the smoke clears, a race over the track is an advantage. Can he step up from a Kentucky Derby 101 Beyer Speed Figure in light of Hot Rod Charlie’s improvement? Runs hard every time out. Would benefit from any early-speed horse compromising Hot Rod Charlie. Major contender.
4. Hot Rod Charlie 6-5
How much did you love that Belmont Stakes race? Hot Rod Charlie finished second to Essential Quality after being stuck in a wicked speed duel with Rock Your World. The Belmont fractions – 22.78 for the first quarter mile and 46.49 for the half mile in a 1 1/2-mile race – were astoundingly fast. Hot Rod Charlie ran his best race ever in fighting for a stubborn second.
That blistering pace probably won’t be repeated here. By comparison, Mandaloun chased a pace of 24.67 in the Pegasus, which was 1 1/16th miles. Hot Rod Charlie backers would love to see him placed in front with similar fractions and no speed duel this time. A repeat of his Belmont performance would put him in the winner’s circle here, if that race didn’t take too much out of him.
Hot Rod surged from a Derby Beyer figure of 100 to a sterling 108. Has Hot Rod found his groove?
Intangible: in a season for which the 3-year-olds have taken turns beating each other, Hot Rod Charlie is due. He just missed twice against Essential Quality (Breeders Cup Juvenile and Belmont Stakes) and was nosed by Mandaloun in the Derby. Too good not to have won yet. Can he keep a level of restraint and have something left? Major contender/my choice.
5. Pickin Time 20-1
Didn’t like the slop at Monmouth and was a bad seventh in the Jersey Derby on Memorial Day. Was in position to fire around the turn and at least make a run for third, but was not up to it. Also outrun in the Mucho Macho Man after breaking slowly and being rushed up in a $100,000 race. This one’s worth a million. Outclassed and at the wrong distance. Toss this horse from betting tickets.
6. Midnight Bourbon 9-2
Always a solid underneath play who rides hard. Sixth in the Kentucky Derby, was a good rebound from a slow start. No arguments with second in the Preakness. Midnight Bourbon did pass the early speed Medina Spirit but Rombauer rolled past him with a fresh set of wheels in the stretch. Reliable in the money and should be used in exactas, trifectas and superfectas. Love him in it, but can’t love him to win it. Rider change to Paco Lopez, a seven-time Monmouth Park riding champion, is a plus.
7. Basso 30-1
Buried by Antigravity in Allowance Optional Claiming. Asking too much. Toss.
Pace Considerations For Haskell Picks
Can Hot Rod Charlie stay out of a duel? Following Sea, graduating a sprint race, figures to set the early fractions. The three – Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon – would ideally like to sit off the pace, set up a match race in the homestretch and overrun the early speed.
Haskell Picks and Possibilities: How I’m Looking To Bet The Race
Not much money in the race unless you connect on a slam. I like a win bet on Hot Rod Charlie, on the belief he will prefer 1 1/8 miles rather than 1 1/2, even if his speed is slightly compromised. Mandaloun should keep him above even money, maybe even make him drift up.
But if Hot Rod Charlie sinks to 4-5, no bet.
Where is money? If you are convinced that Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon are the top three, the $1 trifecta box will pay peanuts. But if you take a straight $10 trifecta with the horse you like atop the other two, it will cost $20. If you are right, you get a reasonable payout.