The Player’s Edge – July 26th: Haskell Day at Monmouth Park
Monmouth Park – Haskell Invitational
Monmouth Park – Oceanport Stakes
Monmouth Park – Monmouth Cup
Monmouth Park – Matchmaker Stakes
Monmouth Park – Haskell Invitational
The feature race on Sunday, July 28, at Monmouth Park is the $1-million Haskell Invitational for three-year-olds. The nine furlong Grade 1 drew a field of seven, led by the Preakness winner Oxbow.
Oxbow has been clashing heads with some of the best of his crop every since he set his hooves onto the race track. Throughout his running lines are horses in italics, denoting next out winners, and sprinkled through those past performances are three wins, none bigger than the 2013 Preakness.
What jockey Gary Stevens did in the Preakness was masterful, he went straight to the lead and never looked back, defeating Itsmyluckyday, Mylute and the Derby winner Orb. The son of Awesome Again came back to be a good second in the Belmont and will be tough in the Haskell.
Oxbow may have been considered a slam dunk if the pace for the race had not come up so hot. Drawn to his inside is Power Broker and two stalls to his outside is Verrazano, the colt many thought would be the favorite for the Derby.
Verrazano has had an ambitious campaign since his debut on January 1. After winning his first two starts, Verrazano was put right into graded stakes and he won both the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and Grade 1 Wood Memorial. The Kentucky Derby; however, was a different story. In his first time facing true adversity, Verrazano backed up and finished 14th. No worries for the connections though as the More Than Ready colt came right back to score in the local prep, the Grade 3 Pegasus, by nine and one-quarter lengths.
Jockey John Velazquez can go to the lead or sit off the pace, depending on what the jockeys on Oxbow and Power Broker decide to do.
Power Broker has won back-to-back races at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park, both with the lead at the half call. The son of Pulpit was fifth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but also won the Grade 1 Front Runner last September. His class has yet to be determined this year though. Rosie Napravnik keeps the mount for trainer Bob Baffert.
Should the pace be fast, and it looks that way, Golden Soul will be picking up the pieces. The stretch-runner was second in the Kentucky Derby, but only has one win in seven starts. His style does not suit the Monmouth track profile.
Vyjack, winner of the Grade 3 Gotham and cross-entered in the Haskell and at Saratoga, Pick of the Litter, third in the Grade 3 Lexington, and Micromanage, two-for-two at Monmouth, complete the field.
Carded as race 13 on the 14-race card, post time for the Haskell is 6:18 pm ET.
Monmouth Park – Oceanport Stakes Grade 3 Turfers
One of the best betting races on the Sunday Monmouth Park card is the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes for three-year-olds and upward at eight and one-half furlongs on the turf. A full field of 11 will break from the gate; let’s take a look.
Silver Max was installed as the morning line favorite at 7-2 looking to improve his turf record to eight wins in 15 starts. By Badge of Silver, Silver Max only has one win in his last six starts, an off-the-turf event on a sloppy Churchill track. He is the one to catch, but may also be the one to bet against.
Next on the morning line are six horses between 4-1 and 8-1; Swift Warrior, Howe Great, Tune Me In, Hudson Steele, Change of Command and General Logan all have races that would put them in the winner’s circle.
Swift Warrior is coming off a third place finish, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia. He won a pair of Grade 3 races earlier this year and will be pressing the pace. Swift Warrior is stubborn and does not like to be passed late.
Another pace-presser is Howe Great, who drew post eleven. Now trained by Richard Mettee, Howe Great has not won a graded stakes race since the Palm Beach in March 2012, a streak that is at eight races. One positive is that Howe Great won the $60,000 Jersey Derby over the course in July 2012.
While Howe Great has a win over the track, Tune Me In is the horse-for-course with five wins, five seconds and four thirds in 16 starts on the Monmouth turf. The six-year-old gelding has yet to win since the Grade 3 Cliffhanger last September and has regressed in two starts since finishing second to Za Approval in the Grade 3 Red Bank in May.
Hudson Steele looked like the real deal when he won the Grade 2 Dixie on Preakness day in 2012, but has only made three starts since with one since July 2012. Of course, the gelded son of Johannesburg, won his last race, the $50,000 Da Hoss at Colonial in June and that will have served as the perfect prep for the Oceanport. It’s not often you get a Todd Pletcher-trained, Johnny Velazquez-ridden horse at 6-1, regardless of the surface or type of race.
Change of Command and General Logan are the 8-1 shots and the two have run against each other before. In May, General Logan won an allowance race at Pimlico over Change of Command by just under four lengths. Change of Command went on to be third in the Da Hoss behind Hudson Steele and won a small stakes race three weeks ago, while General Logan finished fourth in the Colonial Turf Cup, two lengths behind Swift Warrior.
Long shots in the race are Glass Art, Hobbs, Decisive Moment and Two Notch Road. While they may not win, both Decisive Moment and Two Notch Road will ensure a fast pace, setting the race up well for Hudson Steele and General Logan.
Post time for the Oceanport is 5:36 pm ET.
Monmouth Park – Monmouth Cup Take Charge Indy Looks to Rebound
The lead in to the Haskell begins early on the card and the graded stake races just keep on coming. The nine race on the day is the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup for three-year-olds and upward at eight and one-half furlongs on the main track. Take Charge Indy is the 9-5 morning line favorite and horse to beat.
Two starts back the son of A.P. Indy put it all together when he routed his foes in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs. Jockey Rosie Napravnik sat chilly out of the gate, made the lead early and never looked back. It was the best race of his career, which was then followed by his second worse race.
In the Stephen Foster Take Charge Indy was sitting second, but did not off any resistance and faded to be last, 20 and one-quarter lengths behind Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned. No bullet drills for the works leading up to the Monmouth Cup, perhaps he is a bet against?
One problem for Take Charge Indy will be the pace as the five-year-old gelding Big Sur, drawn next to the favorite, also has an abundance of early speed, which will set things up for a closer. That closer is Hymn Book, the Shug McGaughey trained seven-year-old.
Hymn Book has been first or second in 15 of his 23 career races including a win in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February 2012. Since then he only has one win in nine starts, but he may have just found the right chance to get back on track. This is his third start off the layoff and Johnny Velazquez has been booked to ride. The jockey who won the Donn on Hymn Book? Johnny Velazquez.
Not only will the pace be swift from Take Charge Indy and Big Sur, but you also have Ponzi Scheme and Pants on Fire. Ponzi Scheme looks like he can rate a bit though he unproven at this level. Pants on Fire is a graded stakes winner over the track and is making his first start since the Mountainview Handicap at Penn National in June. Also coming out of that race is the Pennsylvania-bred Norman Asbjornson.
Asbjornson has made almost a half-million in his career that has taken him up and down the north east. He was second behind a good horse, Easter Gift, in the Mountainview and likes a bit more pace to run into. He is 6-1 on the morning line, but could drift up higher.
Small Town Talk is the final entrant in the Grade 2, coming off a pair of non-placings in two Grade 3 races. That makes him the longest shot on the board and would need the best race of Take Charge Indy’s career in order to upset the apple cart.
Post time for the Monmouth Cup is 3:56 pm ET and it starts the 10-cent Jersey Shore 6, a jackpot pick-6 wager.
Monmouth Park – Matchmaker Stakes Graded Fillies and Mares on the Turf
The start of the graded stakes action on Sunday at Monmouth Park is the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf. The nine furlong race drew a field of eight with Laughing the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Laughing, out of the Be My Chief mare Comic, is also entered for Saturday at Saratoga so check the scratches, but if she stays in the Matchmaker, Laughing is the filly to beat. The Irish-bred mare has won five of her 12 career races with two seconds and two thirds. Eight of those races have been in the U.S. after she began her career with two wins in four starts in Ireland.
Laughing looked like a need-the-lead type last year, but came back with an off-the-pace score in the Grade 3 Eatontown over the track last month. She may opt to take the lead on Sunday as there does not appear to be any true front-runner.
Channel Lady looks the biggest challenge to the favorite off her win in the Grade 3 All Along at Colonial Downs. The Todd Pletcher-trained daughter of English Channel has won have of her 10 starts including two grade 3 races. She can either be on the pace or stalk, very similar to Laughing.
The other contenders in the field are Julie’s Love, 3-1, Minakshi, 7-2, and Starstruck, 6-1.
Julie’s Love has some back class, but looks up against it pace wise. The daughter of Ad Valorem has been second or third in 12 of her 23 career starts with only five wins. Her best win was in a $90,000 stakes race in May at Belmont Park, when she won by a half length of Minakshi.
Minakshi cuts back a furlong to a distance she won at in her native France where she had four wins in 13 starts before coming to the U.S. In three starts at Belmont Park, Minakshi has finished second, third and fourth, in that order. Perhaps she will finish fifth or maybe Sunday is the day.
Starstruck is the wild card and perhaps worth a bet if she is close to her 6-1 morning line. Her U.S. debut at Churchill in May was outstanding and then caught a pair of pace-less races. The winner and second place filly from her last start have already come back to won and blinkers now go on the Irish-bred. Starstruck was good enough to beat the boys in Ireland in October 2012. Do not over look.
Rounding out the field are Idle Talk, Naples Bay and Parranda.
First post on Sunday at Monmouth is 12:00 pm ET with the Matchmaker off at 1:50. Race ten, post time 4:28, starts the $250,000 guaranteed pick-5, which ends with the Haskell. Welcome to the second half of the three-year-old stakes season.
Thoroughbred Racing Action
Great racing action from across the country this weekend. Watch these races all on BetAmerica.com.
Saturday– July 27
- Del Mar: San Diego Handicap - G2, $200,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
- Del Mar: Fleet Treat Stakes, $200,000, 3yo f, 7f
- Monmouth Park: Desert Vixen Stakes, $60,000, 3yo f, 8.5f turf
- Woodbine: Toronto Cup Stakes, $250,000, 3yo, 9f turf
- Parx: Crowd Pleaser Handicap, $75,000, 3yo, 8.5f turf
- Parx: Power by Far Handicap, $75,000, 3yo & up, 5f turf
- Northlands Park: Northlands Oaks, $50,000, 3yo f, 8f
- Northlands Park: Count Lathum Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 8.5f
- Northlands Park: Edmonton Juvenile Stakes, $50,000, 2yo, 6f
- Northlands Park: Princess Margaret Stakes, $50,000, 2yo f, 6f
- Santa Rosa: Wine Country Stakes, $50,000, 3yo, 8.5f turf
- Monmouth Park: Haskell Invitational - G1, $1-million, 3yo, 9f
- Monmouth Park: Monmouth Cup Stakes - G2, $200,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f
- Monmouth Park: Molly Pitcher Stakes - G2, $200,000, 3yo & up f&m, 8.5f
- Monmouth Park: Matchmaker Stakes - G3, $150,000, 3yo & up f&m, 9f turf
- Monmouth Park: Oceanport Stakes - G3, $150,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f turf
- Monmouth Park: Teddy Drone Stakes, $100,000, 3yo & up, 6f
- Monmouth Park: Regret Stakes, $75,000, 3yo & up f&m, 6f
- Del Mar: Bing Crosby Stakes - G1, $300,000, 3yo & up, 6f
- Woodbine: Royal North Stakes - G3, $150,000, 3yo & up, 6f turf
- Emerald Downs: Emerald Express Stakes, $50,000, 2yo, 6f
- Santa Rosa: Luther Burbank Handicap, $50,000, 3yo & up, 8.5f turf