JULY 19, 2019—I love Haskell Day at Monmouth Park, the quintessential summertime racetrack.
Many years we would hop in the car the moment the Jim Dandy horses reached the Spa finish line and made the drive south to Eatontown. Often we’d get there in time for dinner and if Max’s was still serving, it was a score.
Don’t know if any scores will be made on tomorrow’s renewal but if not there will be 13 other opportunities to make stacks if you can pick some winners. Only seven sophomores have signed on; three of the major variety.
If you were disappointed by Maximum Security’s (8-5) defeat in the small-p Pegasus, you should go back and review the video tape.
A little quiet as he stood in the starting gate, he stumbled leaving there, raced a bit flat–given his noted brilliance–and it still took a Todd Pletcher up-and-comer to nail him as he tired in the last few strides.
King for a Day (5-2) will be back for the big dance and, despite beating Maximum Security at level weights in the Pegasus, will get a two-pound edge and a ground saving rail draw, The Derby-first drew the outside slip.
Maximum Security will be a much tougher customer in the Haskell with a race under his belt on his home grounds. But speaking of Max’s, the man who has won eight renewals of this race starts Haskell day for a good luck hot dog as he returns seeking his ninth with Mucho Gusto (2-1).
All three rate to go forward and any could win this. If they didn’t improve from their last, they still rate to finish at the line together.
Given his draw, Johnny Velazquez will have to send his mount out of there to protect his position and take some sting out of the leader before easing back into a stalking posture.
From the outside post, Luis Saez will have to ask Maximum Security for tactical position then play it from there as the field enters the lower first turn.
Mucho Gusto also has gas, is drawn in the middle of the field, but like King for a Day does his best racing stalking from close range.
Even in a seven horse field, it gets crowded when the jockeys are all looking to land in the same spot. This Haskell lacks a true standout, very much a “rider’s race.”
In that context, Joe Talamo gets along very well with the recent G3 Affirmed winner, defeating well regarded stablemate Roadster. Mucho Gusto is seeking his third straight win.
Of the big three, we vote for Mucho Gusto the most likely to go forward, and the early line 2-1 quote looks just about right.
YESTERDAY: Overbet Dogtag was terribly disappointing, even if he wasn’t handled in his preferred one-run style. One stablemate got loose on an easy lead, the other made the last strong run from the outside as Dogtag got caught in a pace sandwich. Nonetheless, the fact that the Lake George turned into a three-horse Chad Brown Invitational, was a major embarrassment.