This Saturday’s running of the Grade I TVG.com Haskell Stakes marks the highlight of the summer racing calendar at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Run on dirt at 1 1/8 miles, the race annually attracts the top three-year-olds in the country and is one of horse racing’s biggest events between the Triple Crown series and November’s Breeder’s Cup Classic.
This year’s Haskell is Race 12 on the card and features a field of seven runners competing for a purse of $1,000,000 and an automatic “win and in” berth to the Breeder’s Cup Classic.
Post time is 5:47 ET and exotic betting options include a 50-cent trifecta and 10-cent superfecta. The race is also the fifth leg of the 20-cent Jersey Shore Pick 6 and the final leg of a $400,000 guaranteed 50-cent pick 4.
What About Bob?
Although Monmouth Park officials did not bar him from participating, controversial trainer Bob Baffert and tentative Kentucky Derby champion Medina Spirit will not compete.
A nine-time Haskell Stakes winner, Baffert has hoisted six of the last 11 trophies awarded to the winner of this event.
Baffert’s awkward absence this coming weekend all but assures Medina Spirit’s consecutive positive drug tests will continue to be an unwanted distraction from the racing card itself.
Top contenders confirmed for 2021 Haskell Stakes
Hot Rod Charlie (6-5):
Coming off a second-place finish behind Essential Quality at the Belmont, Hot Rod Charlie is the morning line favorite and his 108 number at the Belmont is the top Beyer on the card.
The winner of Monmouth Park’s local Haskell Stakes prep race, Mandaloun looks to build on his Pegasus Stakes win. Mandaloun finished second at the Kentucky Derby behind Medina Spirit.
Following Sea (3-1):
Perhaps the most interesting storyline of the race, Following Sea was trained by Baffert before Spendthrift Farm switched him over to Todd Pletcher following Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby controversy.
Following Sea has never raced longer than 6 ½ furlongs and has only three career starts. He is however coming off two wins and a 100-Beyer on a wet track in his first start under the watch of Pletcher.
Midnight Bourbon (9-2):
After finishing second at the Preakness, Midnight Bourbon skipped the Belmont and goes back to the shorter length here. He is yet to win a GI or GII stakes race.
Haskell 2021 field and odds
|Post||Horse Name||Jockey / Trainer||Morning Line Odds|
|1||Following Sea||J. Rosario / T. Pletcher||3-1|
|2||Antigravity||D. Cohen / J. Hollendorfer||30-1|
|3||Mandaloun||F. Geroux / B. Cox||2-1|
|4||Hot Rod Charlie||F. Prat / D. O'Neill||6-5|
|5||Pickin' Time||N. Juarez / K. Breen||20-1|
|6||Midnight Bourbon||P. Lopez / S. Asmussen||9-2|
|7||Basso||I. Castillo / G. Sacco||30-1|
“Whip it Bad”
Last September, the New Jersey Racing Commission voted to institute the nation’s strictest whip regulations. Jockeys may only use their whip to ensure the safety of the horse or rider. These new rules went into effect for the start of Monmouth’s season on May 28.
The Jockey Guild objected, threatened boycott and filed an appeal but the new guidance stands. Of the top contenders and their associated jockeys, only Mandaloun and his rider Florent Geroux have raced under this new standard (together they won the Pegasus Stakes).
Weather forecast for Haskell Day
At the time of writing, extended forecasts are calling for localized thunderstorms and gusty winds the afternoon of the race. The chance of precipitation is listed at about 50%.
How to watch Haskell Stakes 2021
The Haskell Stakes will be broadcast live on NBC. Undercard races can be viewed on the TVG app.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez