Haskell Day 2021 is here, and the racing office at Monmouth Park did a tremendous job putting together an outstanding 14 race card. The card features five graded stakes and large fields throughout the card. From a wagering standpoint, there are two Pick-5’s and four Pick 4 sequences. It’s also worth mentioning that the purse increases that are reflected on this card are staying through the remainder the meet. The Grade 1 United Nations drew a strong field, headlined by Arklow, and a pair of Chad Brown horses that are looking to make a name for themselves in this division. The Grade 1 Haskell features the second place finishers in the Kentucky Derby (Mandaloun), Preakness (Midnight Bourbon), and the Belmont (Hot Rod Charlie). One horse in that race will get their first Grade 1 victory, which could be useful down the road in potentially determining the three year old champion.
|1||7,9||2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|2||5,7||1,2||6||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|6||6,11||2,4||12||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|8||5||4,7||DBL, PK3, PK6|
|9||1,7||2||DBL, PK3, PK4|
|10||3||1,2||DBL, PK3, PK5|
|11||8,10||1||DBL, PK3, PK4|
Race 1: Top Pick: 7
The first race of the day is a N1X allowance for three year olds and up going 1 Mile and 1/16 on the turf course. Eagerly (7) has quietly put two strong wins together in his last two turf races, breaking his maiden at Gulfstream in $50K maiden claiming company and beating a solid field of multi-conditioned $30K-$25K claimers here last month. I thought his last effort was very sharp, as he didn’t have the best of trips, breaking near the outside, racing three wide the majority of the race, and getting jostled in the stretch. He moves up in class today where he faces some tougher foes, but I think his effort last out showed that this gelded son of American Pharoah is starting to figure things out in his four year old campaign. Assiduously (9) is back at this level after losing by a length to his stablemate here last month. He makes his second start of the year. He tried stakes company at the end of his three year old campaign, racing in the Hill Prince at Belmont, but he was no match for Get Smokin and Decorated Invader that day. He has been competitive in his three races at this level, hitting the board in all three. However, he is 3-2 on the morning line, which feels very short for this race. Quiberon Bay (2) is the likely pacesetter here, while breaking from post two. He is one of the few horses left in training sired by the talented sprinter, Lite The Fuse. It’s interesting that this one doesn’t care much for dirt, but has definitely turned his career around since getting on the turf. Paco Lopez climbs aboard for the first time to try to help him ration his speed around two turns.
Race 2: Top Pick: 7
I think this optional claiming/N1X allowance sprint is wide open, and a good place to spread in the Win-Early Pick-5. I made Speeding Kid (7), who is in for the $16K tag, my top choice. He ran a strong second to High Five Cotton in optional claiming/starter allowance company here last out. The winner that day was the lone speed and was able to run that field off their feet, however, Speeding Kid, was best of the rest, and the only one really making up any ground that day. He finds a field where there is a good amount of speed lined up on the inside, which could set this race up for a closer. Jose Camejo trains a pair of Star Guitar geldings in this race. I think both are live, but I prefer Guitar Slim (5) who should be the bigger price of the duo. Guitar Slim ran at this level, trying the turf for the first time in his last start. He clearly hated it, never picking up his feet, finishing 34 lengths behind the winner. I’m willing to toss that effort, as his dirt tries in New Orleans against Louisiana breds were pretty good. He’s now in his second race off the layoff and, he too, could benefit from a hot early tempo. Camejo’s other horse, Win Ya Win (6) is a hard trying gelding that won his first two career starts in 2020 at Delta and the Fair Grounds, but hasn’t visited the Winner’s Circle since. He makes his first start since March, and has run well when freshened before. I think he’s more of an underneath horse today, but certainly one that could improve after this start. It’ll be interesting to see how the track is playing today, as speed tends to be good on big race days at tracks across the country. I’ll definitely include both Dr. Doyle (1) and Sneakiness (2) on my multi-race exotic tickets, as they both have shown the ability to battle early and keep going late in races. Dr. Doyle has been very good in his first two starts in 2021, beating New Jersey breds, going gate to wire last out. He was a close 4th at this level back in May when making his first start of the year. The third place finisher that day, Sagamore Mischief, came back to dominate a N1X allowance race last month. Dr. Doyle has never won with open company though, so he’ll have to prove he can do that, and he’ll likely be a short price in being asked to do so. Sneakiness is taking a big step up in class after beating multi-conditioned $5K claimers here last out, when making his first start off the claim for Jose Delgado. Everything coming from this barn is live at moment, and retaining the services of Paco Lopez is certainly a plus. He has races earlier this year that would be very tough at this level.
Race 3: The Wolf Hill Stakes: Top Pick: 1
The first stakes contest of the day feels like a free square in the early multi-race sequences. It’s hard to look past the consistency and quality of a horse like The Critical Way (1) in this race. He’s a multiple stakes winner that has only continued to get better since he joined Jose Delgado’s barn last summer. He has finished in front of everyone else in this field that has faced him in the past, and the new shooters that haven’t seen him look hopelessly overmatched. This race is three weeks away from the Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga, which would be a logical next step for this one who was dominant when winning the Get Serious Stakes on this course last month.
Race 4: Top Pick: 1
This is a very tough maiden special weight race, featuring three year olds and up, going 6 Furlongs on the main track. I ended up going with a pair of second time starters as my “A” horses, making Whata Guy (1) on the rail for Kelly Breen, my top pick. He showed some interest in his debut at this level last month, making the lead from his rail post before backing out to finish 5th that day. He’s had two sharp works since from a barn that has been winning at a 25% clip with their second time starters since 2020. I don’t love that he’s drawn the rail again, especially in a bigger field, however, he looks like a horse that has some ability, and could benefit if the track is playing kind to front end horses. Comedic Timing (10) debuted in a maiden special weight race on the turf two weeks ago, and I noted that day, that I thought his pedigree, while having some turf influences, might favor the main track. He didn’t have the cleanest trip for his debut. He was away slow and then found himself in cramped quarters at the quarter pole, before retreating to last in a five horse field on a good course. He should benefit from the experience and Greg Sacco has been successful 27% of the time with going turf to dirt. Blinkers come off the outside draw could be to his benefit here. He’s 20-1 on the morning line, which seems very high in this wide open race. Ghostconqueror (8) comes in from New York for trainer Chandradat Goberdhan, after being defeated by double digits in three straight maiden special weight races on the NYRA circuit. His sprint efforts weren’t too bad, as those races came back with big figures, most likely a lot higher than what the winner of this race will produce. New York based horses shipping here and dropping in class have done well all meet long, and you’ve been able to get a good price on some them, especially ones coming from smaller, lesser known barns, like he is. Not a Postino (9) has two career tries, both with maiden claiming company. He was claimed for $20K out of his debut, where he came up just short in the slop at 5 Furlongs. He came back for his new connections a month later against $40K-$30K maiden claimers, falling just short again. He gets Paco Lopez aboard and moves up to the maiden allowance ranks, where he’ll face a tougher field. However, he improved from start one to start two, and his speed figures are in line with top horses in this race.
Race 5: The Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes: Top Pick: 5
Fillies and mares go 9 Furlongs on this turf in this Grade 3 contest that used to be a fixture at Atlantic City Race Course before relocating here 25 years ago. One of the coolest features of this race is that the top three finishers get their choice of a fees paid breeding to one of three WinStar stallions (Audible, Global Campaign, or Tom’s d’Etat) upon retirement from racing. Last year’s winner, Nay Lady Nay (6) is back in here, but the one that they’re going to have to deal with is Juliet Foxtrot (5). She’s a very consistent six year old mare, that already has a Grade 1 win under her belt this season, winning the Jenny Wiley back in April at Keeneland. She came up a bit short in her next start in the Mint Julep at Churchill. She’s been focusing on races at 1 Mile or 1 Mile and 1/16 of late, so the stretch out to the full 9 Furlongs is something that she hasn’t done since 2019. However, she was solid in some of those races as a four year old and could be using this spot to prep for a race like the Beverly D next month at 9.5 Furlongs. Other than No Mercy Percy (4), there’s not a ton of speed signed on in this spot, so she should wind up with a favorable trip, likely sitting just off the cheap speed of that mare. I think she has the advantage over the quartet coming from the Chad Brown barn. Of that group, Nay Lady Nay is going to be the main danger here. She was 6th, in a full field in the Eatontown last month. She didn’t really kick on while stalking a slowish pace. I think she struggled to get comfortable when racing in that large field that day. She ran better in the Beaugay two back behind Harvey’s Lil Goil, who goes in the Grade 1 Diana this afternoon. I’m willing to give her a pass for her last race and use her in this spot today.
Win-Early Pick-5 Play: $60.00
Race 1: 2, 7, 9
Race 2: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7
Race 3: 1
Race 4: 1, 8, 9, 10
Race 5: 5, 6
Race 6: Top Pick: 11
The second Pick-4 of the day starts in this optional $15K claiming/allowance sprint for New Jersey breds. This is a great sequence with some large, wide open fields, that should pay well. This field is evenly matched and there’s a lot of ways that you could go. I ended up with Lucky Lover Boy (11) as my top pick. He is second off the layoff and has been in much better form in 2021 than he was in back in 2020. He was 5th, beaten three in a full field race at this level last month. He drew near the inside that day and didn’t have a clean break. For his running style, I think he’ll benefit from being on the outside of horses today. All three of his career wins have come on this course at this 6 Furlong distance. Saltin’ The Rim (6) is the lukewarm morning line favorite in this race, dropping in class from some salty N1X allowance races in open company in Maryland and Delaware. He adds blinkers for his second race off the layoff and returns here for the first time since his maiden win with New Jersey bred maiden special weight foes in October. He was sluggish last out in the mud, but should be sharper today. Hit Me I’m Lucky (2) upset the heavy favorite, Pogi, last out, who has struggled to break through in maiden allowance company. He took a big step forward in his second start and his first try on a fast track last time. This is a big step up in class, as this field is much more competitive than the maidens he saw last out. Postino’s Vow (4) is in for the tag after nearly pulling off the upset at this level two back. He tried tougher New Jersey breds eight days later and was not competitive. He’ll benefit from a hot early pace and he’ll need to work out a trip in another large field. On deeper tickets, Pnutbutter Special (12) is one to keep an eye on, as he’s dropping in class after a few dull efforts with significantly better open allowance company. He missed all of 2020 and returned to the races after 14 months back in January. He’s run eight times this year, all against better fields, with only one second place finish to speak of. He was a state bred stakes winner back in 2019, and while it seems that those days seem like they may have gone, there’s enough back class to consider him at this level, especially if he is overlooked in wagering.
Race 7: Top Pick: 4
14 horses are set to go one mile on the turf in this multi-conditioned $16K-$14K claiming race for fillies and mares. I think Artie’s Rose (4) could be dangerous getting back on the turf for the first time since her debut at Ellis last summer. Two of her best career efforts came on the turf and synthetic. She struggled in the slop at this level in an off the turf contest here, and his been dull since being claimed three starts back. Kent Sweezey has been strong with the limited number of horses he’s brought here thus far, winning with 7 of 19 starts (37%). Real Wild Solution (7) was running quality races at this level at Tampa this winter. She was given a brief break and returned in the same off the turf race that Artie’s Rose was in. She’s definitely better on the grass and she likes the local course, winning once and finishing third in her two career starts here. She has tactical speed, which should help her navigate a good trip in a large field. Isla Bonita (9) is one of two horses entered here that has more than one career win. She was an impressive winner at this condition last out, running down the pacesetter, Donya’s Magic (12) to win going away. She has won her last two races on the turf, and looks to be improving with each start for trainer Darien Rodriguez. Musetta (2) is the morning line favorite, coming in from Tampa while making her first career start for Jose Delgado, who continues to be red hot at this meet. There’s not likely going to be a ton of value on this three year old filly who hasn’t been in a race since the end of March. I’ll cover her in the multi-race sequences, but I think there’s value in trying to beat her.
Race 8: The Grade 3 Monmouth Cup: Top Pick: 5
Take note that this race will kickoff the Jersey Shore 6 wager today. I was all about Ny Traffic (4) in the Salvator Mile last month, coming off a monster effort in his seasonal debut at Belmont in May. He led, but couldn’t hold off the huge priced longshot, Informative, who blew by him in the stretch. He stretches out today to 9 Furlongs, which looks to be at the edge of his range. However, he’s installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite without ever winning a stakes race. The value doesn’t seem to be there, so I’ll side with Dr. Post (5), who finished behind Ny Traffic last year in the Haskell, after being the runner up to Tiz The Law in the Belmont. He won the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont in his four year old debut. He took a swing in the Met Mile where he may have bounced off his big comeback effort. Blinkers go on for the first time today and Joel Roasrio should be able to work out a very nice trip. Don’t sleep on Bankit (7) in this race, who is coming off a big time effort in the Commentator in the mud at Belmont. I’m always a little wary of horses in their next start after running a huge race in the mud, however, he has some strong two turn efforts, including a win against NY Breds in the Alex M Robb at this distance. He’s one to use as well.
Race 9: Top Pick: 1
The third Pick-4 of the day starts in this race, and this one comes with a $400K guarantee in the pool, as it ends with the Grade 1 United Nations and the Grade 1 Haskell. There are a lot of shippers in this N1X allowance race for fillies and mares on the turf. While I think many are up against it today, keep an eye on the local horses exiting this race for their next start. Linny Kate (1) may offer a rare opportunity to get a little value on a Chad Brown horse on the turf (9-2 ML). She debuted last year with a lot of promise, impressively beating a maiden allowance field at Gulfstream, while breaking from post 11. She ran well in two races at this level at Belmont and Gulfstream in her next two tries, with some sizeable gaps in between starts. She tried the dirt in an off the turf allowance at Keeneland two back and faltered. She had a wide journey when going 10 Furlongs last out. She faded, most likely indicating that she’s not ready or interested in going that far. She cuts back and keeps Rosario in a race where she should rebound nicely. L’Indiscret (7) is a four year old filly that dropped in for a $40K tag to break her maiden after a three month layoff at Belmont in April. Raymond Handal claimed her that day and ran her back in starter allowance company, where she was a handy winner. She seems to be figuring some things out as she ships here and moves up in class. Handal has only sent four horses here thus far, but they’ve been live runners, winning with two and finishing second with another one. Apurate (2) broke her maiden in her 8th start for Todd Pletcher last fall, and ran well twice at this level at Aqueduct and Gulfstream. Her last two have not been her finest efforts, but she runs back here in a race where she should be able to secure a good early position. I’d expect a better effort from her as well here.
Race 10: The Grade 3 Molly Pitcher Stakes: Top Pick: 3
The late Pick-5 with a $100K guaranteed pool kicks off here. If the main track is playing fair today, one of my stronger opinions on the card is Vault (3) with Tyler Gaffalione and Brad Cox. She came up empty behind Letruska is the Fleur de Lis last out, but she was very good this spring, beating allowance foes at two turns at Oaklawn, and defeating some of these in the Grade 2 Ruffian in May. She had a tough trip in this race last year where she struggled to relax when beaten by Monmouth Park specialist, Horologist. In her recent races, she has been more comfortable when sitting off the pace. I think she’ll that kind of trip today, in a race which figures to have some decent early speed signed on. Our Super Freak (1) gave Monomoy Girl a run for her money in the Bayakoa two back at Oaklawn and followed that effort up with a third place finish behind Vault in the Ruffian. She was sharp in this race last year when she was coming in fresh. David Cohen rode her well in her two starts in Arkansas this winter and he’s back aboard this afternoon. Mrs. Danvers (2) has been bet heavily in her last few starts after running a monster effort in the Grade 3 Comely back in November. She hasn’t run back to that effort yet, but this race sets up similar to that one. She has early speed and should be pressured with Bank Sting (5), Bajan Girl (6), and Graceful Princess (9) to her outside. She showed that she can take the heat if they go with her early and keep running late. Expect her to be sent to the front, especially after encountering early trouble last out in the Allare DuPont at Pimlico.
Race 11: The Grade 1 United Nations: Top Pick: 10
The last Pick-4 of the day starts with the first Grade 1 stakes on the card. I believe the three favorites are definitely the ones to beat in this race. I think Tribhuvan (10) is going to throw down the gauntlet early and be tough to catch with Flavien Prat aboard for Chad Brown here. He has been very sharp in his two races this season, winning the Fort Marcy and finishing second to his very talented stablemate, Domestic Spending, in the Manhattan. With the exception of last year’s Fort Marcy where he was pulled up after an equipment malfunction, he’s been very good since coming here from France. Brown is stretching him out to distances he’s tried overseas, and I think he has the stamina to get the job done. Master Piece (8) is another live runner of the trio that is being sent out by Chad Brown in this race. He came to the States from South America in October and ran 4th in the Turf Classic behind Channel Maker, who ran huge that day. He resurfaced at Keeneland this spring, winning impressively in allowance company. He tried the Manhattan on the Belmont undercard and had a tough trip where he finished 6th. He was a lot farther behind than usual that day, so I’d look for Rosario to keep him within striking distance of his stablemate early, in hopes of getting first run on Arklow (1) coming from the back of the field. Arklow will be the deserving the favorite in this race. He was known as a horse that ran strong races, but struggled to win, but he’s scored in three of his last four races, with his only defeat coming in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November. He struggled in this race last year as the favorite, but he was not in the best form at the time. He’s a better horse coming in here today and he should definitely get an honest pace to set up his late move. I am slightly concerned that 11 Furlongs might be a little too short for him, so he might be a little vulnerable, especially if his price dips below his 8-5 morning line.
Race 12: The Grade 1 Haskell Stakes: Top Pick: 3
A field of seven has been assembled for the signature thoroughbred race of the year in New Jersey. This is a rematch of the Louisiana Derby, with Mandaloun (3), Hot Rod Charlie (4), and Midnight Bourbon (6) all back. All three had impacts in the Triple Crown races, with all three finishing second in one leg, and these are the three that should decide this race. The X-factor in here is going to be the newcomer, Following Sea (1), who has run huge in sprint races, and is making his first start at two turns today. He has the rail and a ton of early speed, so unless he doesn’t break cleanly, he should be on the lead going into the first turn. Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie both like to be forwardly placed, but they have shown the ability to run well sitting off the early lead. Meanwhile, Midnight Bourbon, who is drawn outside, might need to be used early to go with Following Sea. I’d be surprised if Following Sea will be able to keep pace at this level once the real running begins. I think the race will be decided between Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie, and I give the edge to Mandaloun today. He had a race over the track in an eventful trip in the Pegasus last out. The speed figure came back light for this level, but he did enough to win after encountering trouble and not having things go his way. He’s positioned to get the better trip, drawn inside of Hot Rod Charlie, and I think Florent Geroux may have an advantage over Flavien Prat, having a little more experience running with the new whip rules in place in New Jersey. I have been a huge fan of Hot Rod Charlie since his gutsy effort in the Robert B. Lewis this winter at Santa Anita. That race showed that his effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Essential Quality was not a fluke. He shipped in to win the Louisiana Derby, with a change in tactics, running on the front end that day. He went on to run big efforts in defeat in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. The blinkers come off today, which is an odd move to me, seeing as how he’s been so sharp since adding them back in October. He’s also coming off a huge effort at 12 Furlongs, so there’s a question if he can be as sharp coming off such a taxing race. He’s still the horse to beat in this race, but I think there’s going to better value on Mandaloun, and there’s enough questions for me to try to beat him at a short price. Midnight Bourbon defeated Mandaloun in January, but has come up short when facing these two in the past. I think he might be a little keen chasing Following Sea. I’ll try to beat him here. Of the rest, perhaps think about Antigravity (2) underneath in the trifecta as a value horse. I think he definitely has more upside than both the other bombs, Pickin’ Time (5) and Basso (7). I don’t think he’s a win candidate, but hitting the bottom of the trifecta could be within range here after rallying to win his last two races on this track. It took him forever to break his maiden, but certainly has figured some things out at the Jersey Shore this summer.
Race 13: Top Pick: 9
The late double features a pair of turf races with large fields. This one is an open $12,500-$10,500 claiming race going one mile. I’ll use King of Spades (9) as my top pick as he’s exiting a wild race in the Malouf Starter Series last out, when Abiding Star and Mid Day Image absolutely threw down in a crazy speed duel that did both of them in. King of Spades was much further behind that day than usual while facing a more talented field. He drops in class, which is a wise move, as he’d likely be up against in the next leg of that series tomorrow. He’s never run with such a low tag, but he certainly has efforts in his recent form that could put him over the top at this level. Cash Call Kitten (7) and Projected (8) both won a division of this race that was split into two heats back on June 6th, with Cash Call Kitten winning the faster of the two events. Projected came back to win at this level three weeks later, beating the next out winner, D’Craziness, that day. Both are live as they continue to compete at this same level, but do note that this field is a little deeper than the races that these guys have won so far at this meet. On deeper tickets, Blackline (3) isn’t a bad idea, making his second start since being claimed by Wayne Potts two back. He was 4th, beaten 4 and ¾ lengths at this level last out. He has run better races on firm courses, and he’s caught courses rated good in his last two starts. He has a post advantage over the favorites and is versatile enough to be able to sit close to the pace if it’s not too fast, or come from behind if needed.
Race 14: Top Pick: 2
The last race on Haskell Day 2021 is a $16K-$14K maiden claiming contest for fillies and mares going 1 Mile and 1/16, using the turf chute. No Valla (7) was my top pick at this level last out when she went off at 6-1. She ran a quality race in her third career start to be second behind Twisted Treasure, who was just too good that day. She runs back at this level and has been installed as the morning line favorite. I think she is live and she will be on my tickets, however, I’m going to try to beat her today as there looks to be better value elsewhere. Lullaby Land (2) has sprinted twice on the grass in her two starts at the current meet, most recently finishing third with $20K maiden claimers. She stretches out to a route after those two races, which I believe is the trip she wants. She ran competitive races at Tampa going two turns and she should be able to sit a good trip with her inside draw here. English Charmer (5) is definitely bred to a be a turf horse, and it’s no surprise that her turf efforts are better than her dirt races. She is dropping in class after finishing 4th with better last out at Parx, going a tricky 7 and ½ Furlongs. Adding the extra 1/8 of a mile should be to her benefit here. Rainout (10) is an interesting second time starter for Roy Lerman who debuted in April at this level at Tampa. She was beaten by Isla Bonita that day, who showed up earlier in the card today. She’s been working out at Saratoga for her return. I don’t love the outside draw, and she may need this race, however, she could be overlooked in the wagering and offer some value in some of the exotics.
Meet Stats: 57/206 (Top Pick Winners) – $369.00 / $1.79 ROI per $2 win bet