OCEANPORT, NJ – After suffering his first career defeat last time out, Authentic is hoping to right the ship in Saturday’s $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park. Authentic is the 4/5 morning line favorite for the Hall of Fame duo of jockey Mike Smith and trainer Bob Baffert, who will try to saddle his record ninth winner of the event.
The winner of the Haskell will receive an automatic position in the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Classic (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Haskell is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route for 3-year-olds that drew a field of seven for the 2020 edition, which for the first time will award Kentucky Derby (G1) points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 basis.
Let’s take a look at the full field:
#1 Dr Post – After missing the board in his career unveiling last July, he won his first 2 starts in 2020, including the Unbridled Stakes in his first appearance against winners. He was most recently second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) behind top Kentucky Derby prospect Tiz the Law and appears to be peaking at the right time for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won this race 3 times.
#2 Authentic – The deserving heavy favorite on the morning line won his first 3 starts, including the Sham Stakes (G3) and the San Felipe Stakes (G2). He suffered his first defeat last time out in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) at the hands of Honor A. P., but he and his Hall of Fame connections still cast an imposing shadow over the rest of the field.
#3 Jesus’ Team – He seemed to turn the corner in March while breaking his maiden in his fifth career start, repeating that winning effort next out before finishing a narrow second to the Belmont Stakes contender Sole Volante in a salty allowance. Both victories came while entered for a claiming tag and he has yet to run beyond a one-turn mile on dirt, but continued improvement from his last effort could make him a contender at a price.
#4 Ancient Warrior – He broke his maiden on debut to great fanfare last November and looked ready for a big 3-year-old campaign, but he failed to run better than third in four subsequent starts while sprinting against optional claiming foes. Perhaps stretching out 2 1/2 furlongs beyond his previous longest race will help him rediscover the talent that he flashed last fall.
#5 Fame to Famous – The Tapit colt’s only prior career dirt start saw him finish last of 11 in February’s second division of the Risen Star Stakes (G2) while going this same distance at Fair Grounds. He faces the tall task of hitting the board for the first time since breaking his maiden last October on the Belmont Park turf, but both his dam (Assateague) and his one older sibling (Explorationist) won stakes, so his talented pedigree could help him make noise at a price.
#6 Lebda – Back-to-back stakes scores at Laurel Park earlier this year earned him a shot in the Ohio Derby (G3), where he dueled on the front end before fading once the real running began. Based on the running style that he has consistently displayed, expect him to go straight to the lead out of the gate and try to take the field gate to wire.
#7 Ny Traffic – He has done little wrong in 2020 while showing improvement with each start, beginning with a dominating allowance score in January. He then finished third in the Risen Star and second in both the Louisiana Derby (G2) and the Matt Winn Stakes (G3), and with a pair of strong recent workouts on his page, he should be ready to fire a big effort here.
The Haskell Stakes serves as the headlining event on the Saturday card at Monmouth Park. The track will also host the United Nations Stakes (G1), which may not be a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, but it has produced multiple Breeders’ Cup champions in recent years.
The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on August 1 and 2 at Saratoga and Del Mar, with four challenge races split among the two tracks over that weekend. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.