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Haskell Preview: Showdown on the Jersey Shore
Hot Rod Charlie winning the Louisiana Derby (Credit: Hodges Photography)

Haskell Preview: Showdown on the Jersey Shore

OCEANPORT, NJ – After a bit of time off, the 3-year-old stars get going again on the big stage this Saturday in the $1 million Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park.

The Haskell, which drew a small but stellar field, also serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Classic.

The California shipper Hot Rod Charlie will grab most of the headlines after a stellar runner-up effort in the Belmont Stakes (G1) last time out. He ran a race that was good enough to win the Belmont in most years; Essential Quality was just a bit better in that spot. Earlier in the year, Hot Rod Charlie captured the Louisiana Derby (G2) before running third in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He’ll break from post 4 with regular rider Flavien Prat aboard.

The local Pegasus Stakes (G3) winner Mandaloun will draw plenty of his own and will likely be named the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) as well. His Pegasus win over the track is important, considering the use of a whip is not allowed at Monmouth Park, so it’s nice to know that he can win without one. Florent Geroux will have the mount once again, breaking from post 3.

Steve Asmussen’s Midnight Bourbon appears after running second in the Preakness Stakes (G1) last time out. He’s had trouble winning this season, with his only victory coming in the Lecomte Stakes (G3), but he’s hit the board in all of his starts except for the Kentucky Derby. He drew post 6 for this challenge and will have Paco Lopez along for the ride.

The full field from the rail out: Following Sea, Anitgravity, Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie, Pickin’ Time, Midnight Bourbon, and Basso.

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Top Choice

#4 Hot Rod Charlie – We’ll see if he can run back to his amazing Belmont Stakes effort. He’s progressed with each start this season and has shown great consistency, which gives us confidence that’ll he show up with a nice effort here. Look for Prat to send him to the front, as speed looks to be his most dangerous weapon.

Horse to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

#3 Mandaloun – The big advantage he has over his main rivals is a victory over the Monmouth Park oval. Usually, I think that’s overrated, but not this year at Monmouth Park. With whips outlawed at the track, winning a race without it makes a difference because he’s now used to not having it used. That fact, as well as his talent level being good enough to get the job done here, makes him very intriguing.

Exotic Plays

#6 Midnight Bourbon – Just call him Mr. Consistent. This horse makes you run your best to beat him and he’s hit the board in 8 of 9 starts, but he’s had trouble winning. Until he proves he can win at this level, he should be played in the underneath positions. Plus, he’s already finished behind our top pick on multiple occasions.

Watch the latest episode of “Dr. Miranda Previews” for Dr. Miranda’s BEST BETS in the Haskell (G1)!

Party Crashers

#1 Following Sea – This horse was unbelievably impressive in his last 2 starts. After breaking his maiden at Oaklawn Park, he returned to demolish allowance foes at Belmont Park. All 3 of his starts came around one turn, though, which makes this 1 1/8-mile challenge the only major question mark. He’s shown the talent to compete with this group – if he can get the distance.

Throw Outs

#2 Antigravity – After 3 straight wins over this track, he’ll take on the big boys in his first attempt against stakes company. It took several starts for him to break his maiden, which isn’t a great sign, but he does seem to have figured something out.

#7 Basso – It’s hard to see him making an impact in this spot after running poorly in his last 2 starts. In a short field, perhaps it’s worth taking a shot, but these other runners he’s up against should not be taken lightly.

#5 Pickin’ Time – This seems like a very illogical horse in this spot after he struggled against easy competition in his last few starts. He’ll be up against a very tough group here, easily the toughest of his career.

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