Haskell Invitational Preview: Showdown on the Jersey Shore

Nyquist 05arrive - Maryland Jockey Club Photo
Maryland Jockey Club Photo

Likely Winners

#1 Nyquist – The Kentucky Derby winner makes his first start since losing the first race of his career in Preakness Stakes to Exaggerator.  However, a major error in strategy may have caused him to lose that one as he was sent out to the lead on a very hot pace and burned himself out causing him to finish third.  The strategy was surprising considering he sat off the pace beautifully in the Kentucky Derby, and also because the pace of the Preakness was thought to be swift leading up to the race.  If he had been rated in the Preakness would he have went to Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown?  Yes, I believe he would have, and he would have had a shot in the Belmont Stakes as well.  Regardless of what has happened in the past I believe Sunday afternoon he’ll get his revenge and make a big time statement.

#5 American Freedom – Eight time winning Haskell Stakes trainer Bob Baffert is back once again this year with a horse that is improving with each race and recently was a clear winner of the Grade 3 Iowa Derby.  On paper he doesn’t match up with Nyquist, but with a small improvement he can be right there with him.  In Baffert we trust…looking for American Freedom to run a big one here.  Maybe he can’t match up with the Kentucky Derby winner, but he can run second at a decent price.

Exotic Plays

#4 Gun Runner – This will most likely be the second choice in the race behind Nyquist, but for me he’s a tough one to get behind and always has been.  I’ve only picked this horse to win one time in his career, and that was last time out in his Matt Winn Stakes romp.  However, I cannot sit here and talk bad about this horse as he’s ran fantastic all year long.  I just can’t all of the sudden become a big enough fan of his to think he can beat a horse like Nyquist.  Also a bit concerned that his beyer figure in the Matt Winn is a big inflated.  The second place finisher came back to finish off the board in an allowance at Saratoga last weekend.

#6 Exaggerator – That’s right I’m calling for the Preakness winner to not have much of a shot to win this race today.  In the Belmont Stakes he ran like a tired horse which was understandable considering his tough campaign of running in all three Triple Crown races.  Since the Belmont Stakes his workouts have not been great, and the speculation was that he would skip his original plan of running in the Jim Dandy and train up to the Grade 1 Travers Stakes.  Then on Wednesday the shocking news came out that he’d be going to the Haskell.   You hate to disrespect a horse of this nature, but there are a lot of question marks hanging over his head.  The horse that has been training at Saratoga cannot win this race today.

Party Crashers

NONE – No upset bids are happening against this top heavy bunch much like the Jim Dandy Stakes on Saturday.  At this point we know who the better horses are in this division so it will be hard to get a longshot home.

Throw Outs

#2 Sunny Ridge – Can’t match up with the top ones in this race today, and probably should consider a nice class drop after this one.

#3 Awesome Slew – Local hero gets Paco Lopez aboard, but will most likely need more than that to pull off this kind of upset.

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