There never was a realistic shot that the Haskell or Jim Dandy was going to lure Justify. The announcement that the Triple Crown winner will not race again underlined how bereft of star power the 3-year-old division is without him. In fact the best of what's left of the crop arguably is a filly, Monomoy Girl, who continued her march toward an undefeated season with a devastating score in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
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This is the weekend every summer when Monmouth’s Haskell and the Jim Dandy at Saratoga vie for the best of the 3-year-old crop, with the West Virginia Derby lurking to pick up what’s left for Mountaineer’s big race the following weekend.

The retirement of Justify leaves the 3-year-old division with little to get excited about. With one exception, this year’s Haskell and Jim Dandy resemble quality wise what other year’s West Virginia Derby look like.

The big horse, such as he is, is Good Magic. Monmouth, which has lured the likes of American Pharoah, Curlin and Rachel Alexandra to the Jersey Shore, again has the boldest face name. But even though he is the reigning Eclipse champion, Good Magic is unlikely to create traffic jams in Oceanport. Since the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Good Magic has managed only one win in four starts, the Blue Grass. This came on another weekend when the cream of the sophomore crop was dispersed among multiple races.

When it comes to this year’s 3-year-olds, there is Justify and everyone else, and to the surprise of no one, Justify is on his way to the breeding shed. The signs have been there since Justify completed his sweep of the Triple Crown that his multiple owners were looking for an excuse to not race him again.

The rest of the division keep swapping wins. Of the 26 Kentucky Derby points races in 2018, only Audible, Magnum Moon and My Boy Jack were able to win more than one. Magnum Moon’s racing career is over, Audible is not expected back until next winter and My Boy’s Jack’s double is a bit bogus since the second one came in the very minor, last chance Lexington Stakes.

Since the half-dozen 100-point Derby qualifiers, only Justify has found the winner’s circle again.

This inconsistency makes it perilous to take the odds-on price expected to be available on Good Magic. But the opposition is so undistinguished, if not him, who?

Bravazo did finish in front of Good Magic in the Preakness but Good Magic did all the hard work in trying to deny Justify the second jewel of the Triple Crown. No such scenario is expected Sunday. Core Beliefs and Lone Sailor ran 1-2 in the Ohio Derby but Monmouth is not Thistledown.

The Jim Dandy is even more bereft of top talent with only five names in the box. The fact that two of them, Vino Rosso and Sporting Chance, are Grade 1 winners is as misleading as it can get. Vino Rosso's Wood was the weakest of the final phase Derby preps. Sporting Chance hasn't won since last summer's Hopeful. The best case that can be made for him is that he is two-for-two at the Spa.

In fact, if Hofburg, third in the Belmont, had opted for the Jim Dandy over the Curlin on Friday, he might have been favored. Why NYRA continues to run this race on the same weekend as the Jim Dandy and Haskell is inexplicable.

Flameaway looked like a serious horse in the spring but he might have gone over the top. He can be forgiven his 13th in the Derby but it’s tough to draw a line through his no-excuse sixth in the Ohio Derby. But he did win a minor juvenile stake at the Spa last summer and the Casse barn is sizzling.

At the probable odds, Tenfold offers the most value. He’s hit the board only once in three stakes, a fast closing third in the Preakness, in which he showed promise of more to come. The Belmont is not a fair indicator of a horse. Some thrive at 12 furlongs, some don’t. Nine furlongs could be his game.

Second best 3YO

Not only is Justify out of the game, the second best 3-year-old isn’t racing this weekend either.

Monomoy Girl clinched the Eclipse as outstanding 3-year-old filly in Sunday’s Coaching Club American Oaks. She might be more than that. She hasn’t faced males in going five-for-five this year but the facile manner in which she dispatched her leading rival, Midnight Bisou, made an emphatic case that she is the equal or superior of the best of the males not named Justify.

Monomoy Girl put away Wonder Gadot in the Kentucky Oaks and that filly rebounded to bury males in the first two legs of Canada’s Triple Crown, the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales.

There are equine misogynists who consider fillies the weaker sex. They must have had blinkers on during the careers of Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Havre de Grace, Miesque and Goldikova, to name just a few superstar distaffers.

The connections of Monomoy Girl can be forgiven for dreaming even bigger dreams, although they are pipe dreams. After the CCAO trainer Brad Cox all but ruled out a start in the Alabama and Travers but laid out a blueprint with an unattainable reward. Monomoy Girl will likely run next in the Cotillion at Parx and then wrap up her season in the BC Distaff. Were she to run the table and complete an undefeated season, Cox speculated, she might get votes for Horse of the Year.

Maybe in another year. This season, she could add the Alabama, Travers, Cotillion and BC Classic—not that three of those are even under consideration—and she still would come out second best to Triple Crown champion Justify. The Horse of the Year polls closed on June 9.

Take that, Pegasus

It was only a matter of time before the sheiks in Dubai put up a bundle of oil money to regain the World Cup’s stature as the world’s richest race. With oil prices soaring, the announcement came Wednesday.

The 2019 purse for the World Cup has been jacked up to $12 million. This is still less than the $16 million hung on the finish line of the Pegasus at Gulfstream last winter. However, two significant factors make the World Cup more lucrative. The winner’s share has been elevated to $7.2 million, $200,000 more than goes to the Pegasus winner, and the World Cup is an invitational. Owners don't have to pay to play.

The ball is now in Gulfstream’s court. Other than the announcement that there will be a Pegasus in January, The Stronach Group has been uncommonly quiet about the third edition. Resistance among horsemen about the exorbitant $1 million ante has reached the rebellion stage.

Under the circumstances, it would be foolhardy for TSG to attempt to play one-upmanship with the sheiks, especially without a drawing card like Justify. The third Pegasus will be the first without the reigning Horse of the Year. Bob Baffert’s early declaration that the Pegasus was not on Justify's dance card was one of the tipoffs that the Triple Crown winner was probably not going to race again.

The prudent move for TSG is to scale back the entrance fees for the Pegasus while still offering a purse more than the $6 million of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There's nothing wrong with being “America’s richest race.”