One of the biggest major graded horse races of the summer season leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the fall is the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. This year’s event on Sunday, July 31 is shaping up to be a good one with a strong field of contenders listed as probable.
Last year’s Haskell featured Triple Crown winner American Pharoah on betting odds as the favorite and he did not disappoint in a convincing win. Leading the way in this year’s field of top three-year-olds is Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. After breaking down all the contenders lining up to win the 2016 Haskell Invitational, the following are my top three horses to use in a trifecta play when placing yourr bets at preffered sportsbook.
Haskell Invitational- Monmouth Park
The Haskell Invitational is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old thoroughbreds with a total prize purse of $1 million. This race will be contested on the dirt track at Monmouth over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.
Right now there are seven horses listed as probable or possible for Sunday’s main attraction at Monmouth led by Nyquist as the likely morning line favorite when the post positions for the race are released later this week. I would have to agree that this three-year old Kentucky-bred colt remains the class of this field. Trained by Doug O’Neill, he has not raced since his third-place finish in this year’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico to end a run at a Triple Crown, but the added rest could be a good thing.
Prior to that he had won every event he entered including the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year old and the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park before his triumphant run at Churchill Downs in early May. Nyquist is currently ranked No. 7 by Horse Racing Nation with a rating of 8.68.
One three-year old that is very familiar with competing against Nyquist is trainer Steve Asmussen’s Gun Runner. He closed out his juvenile campaign finishing out of the money in fourth place of the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill. This followed two victories in non-stakes events to start his racing career and he quickly got back to his winning ways with a victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds in his first race this year as a three-year old. His biggest claim to fame is a third-place run in the Kentucky Derby behind Nyquist and Exaggerator.
After skipping both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, Gun Runner made it five victories in seven tries with a win in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill on June 18 over a distance of 1 1/16 miles. His HRN rank stands at No. 15 with an 8.45 rating.
While he may not be considered the third-best horse in this field, I am going with trainer Bob Baffert’s American Freedom my choice to fill the show position on Sunday afternoon at Monmouth. This three-year old Kentucky-bred colt never raced as a juvenile, but he has made up for lost time with three victories in four races this year. Against a strong field in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile he faded to sixth in his major stakes race debut, but he immediately showed some promise as a top three-year old with a victory in the non-graded Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico on May 16.
The main reason I am high on his chances to finish in the money in the Haskell is his recent victory on July 1 at Prairie Meadows in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby over a distance of 1 1/16 miles. These past two victories have earned American Freedom a respectable HRN rating of 7.76 making it a valuable betting pick and I believe that his best racing days are still to come.
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