Monmouth Park in New Jersey is the place to be Sunday for one of the first big graded stakes races for 3-year-olds in the summer racing season. The $1 million Haskell Invitational is on the card and some of the top colts from this year’s Triple Crown racing season are expected in the field.
While the final field for Sunday’s main event at Monmouth is still being finalized as we move closer to post time, the one thing we know for sure is that it will be deep in talent with a number of the top 3-year-old thoroughbreds in the nation expected to compete in this event. I have narrowed this deep field down to three entries who are part of my official Haskell Invitational trifecta play.
2017 Haskell Invitational At Monmouth Park
The Haskell Invitational is a Grade 1 stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds and will be contested on the dirt track at Monmouth Park over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. The total prize purse for this 50th running of the Haskell is $1 million.
When it comes to Horse Racing Nation’s rankings for some of the contenders in this race, Irish War Cry is well down the list at No. 323 with a moderate rating of 7.85. When it comes to my favorite to win this race, this New Jersey-bred colt is at the top of my list. He has always done well in this part of the country with a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes following his big win in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in early April at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. You know that trainer H. Graham Motion will have him ready to go for the hometown Jersey crowd at Monmouth.
This sire of Curlin was one of my favorite Kentucky Derby contenders, and despite the fact that he faded to 10th place in that race I still think he is one of the "best of the best" in the 3-year-old category this year.
The top-ranked colt at HRN in the probable field for this year’s Haskell would be McCraken at No. 8. I have him set as my second-favorite in the field coming off a recent victory in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 17 at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. This was his only event following an eighth-place run in the Kentucky Derby. This Kentucky-bred colt’s biggest career victory was in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in early February when he outpaced both Tapwrit and State of Honor over 1 1/16 miles on dirt.
Trained by Ian Wilkes, this pedigree of Ghostzapper has won five of the seven events he has run over the course of his young career with four of those victories coming at Churchill Downs.
Moving down the list of probable entries for this year’s Haskell, I have settled in on Hence to round out my trifecta play. This Kentucky-bred colt is unranked by HRN and his current rating stands at 6.8, but he ranks and rates much higher in my book. Coming off a solid win in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby on July 7 at Prairie Meadows at a distance of 1 1/16 miles, his current form speaks for itself. Trained by Steve Asmussen, I believe he has taken a big step forward following an 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a ninth-place run in the Preakness.
This son of Street Boss earned the biggest victory of his career at the 1 1/8-mile distance of this Sunday's race with a win in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby back in late March.Talk Horse Racing Betting In Our Forum