March 3, 2024

Haskell’s Betrayal: Mage Not Favored

The highlight of today’s race card is the 2023 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Kentucky Derby winner Mage will be in the field…but not your favorite.

The Haskell is on NBC at 5P ET. John Furlong looks at the card.

Pledge of the UNITED NATIONS

RACE 11, MOON PARK
Saturday July 22, POST TIME 5:06PM ET

Let’s start with your favorite online of the morning, #9 The Red Knight. Trained by Mike Maker, who often excels in these long-distance turf races, he is the only horse in the field to already have a Grade 1 win in North America. But I have some concerns. The 9-year-old gelding is closer, and I’m not sure there’s enough quick pace in this race to set up his late kick. Additionally, the Munmouth turf course does not benefit from deep closers as well as many other turf courses. Also – Red Knight has never run at Monmouth before.

I am much more interested #3 Catnip. Firstly, he is proven over this Munmouth turf course – each of his last two wins have come on this track. Secondly, he has tactical pace in a race where there is no early pace – I expect him to sit 2n.d or 3rd in the early stages of the race and get the first run on the fasteners. And finally, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet – he’s never run this 1 3/8 mile distance before, but based on his pedigree, he should excel at this marathon turf distance.

To be honest, I think Catnip is the most likely winner in this race – and since it’s not going to be your favorite, that means it’s going to be a huge overlay. This is the perfect situation to make a big win bet.

THE drama:
Win: #3 CATNIP, AT 5/2 OR HIGHER

HASKELL Pledges

RACE 12, MOON PARK
Saturday July 22, POST TIME 5:45PM ET

This is amazing edition of the Haskell, and it is #8 Arab Knight. I know he hasn’t raced since January, but this horse is really, really talented. He blew the doors off good competition in each of his two career courses, and it’s hard to find any faults with him. And Bob Baffert, a nine-time winner of this race, wouldn’t have sent him across the country if he wasn’t ready to put an end to it.

Arabian Knight is the most likely winner. But there are some other really good horses in this race. And maybe I’m getting too cute here, but I think there is one horse whose ceiling is so similar to the Arabian Knight – #7 Additional Annex.

Extra Anejo missed out on the Triple Crown after suffering an injury in December, but this horse has always been highly regarded by his connections. Just like Arabian Knight, he broke his maiden in commanding fashion, winning by 9½ lengths without question. Arabian Knight is a special talent, but I think Extra Anejo is the only horse in this field with as high a ceiling as Arabian Knight – and he will be at least 3x the price. I’m going to play the seven to win and play the eight over the seven in the cold.

THE drama:
Win: #7 EXTRA ANEJO, at 9/2 or higher
EXACT: 8/7 and 7/8

Enjoy the races tonight on NBC and Peacock and enjoy the sweat.

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