American Pharoah made horse racing history earlier this year by becoming just the 12th three-year old thoroughbred in the storied history of Triple Crown racing to win one of sport’s most elusive titles. He returns to action this Saturday in the William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park for the first time since that historic three-race run.
The William Hill Haskell Invitational is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old thoroughbreds. It will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/8 miles with a total prize purse of $1 million. The morning line has yet to be set for this race, but to give you an idea of just how much a favorite American Pharoah is to win, the money line odds at 5Dimes for him against the field are set at -600, while the betting odds for a bet on the field are set at +400.
The following is a closer look at a few horses to watch in this Saturday’s race as they try and defy these odds by ending one of the most impressive winning streaks in the history of the sport.
William Hill Haskell Invitational - Top Contenders
I would have to put Keen Ice at the top of this list following his third-place run in this year’s Belmont Stakes. While this three-year old colt finished well behind American Pharoah in that race, he still had a chance to compete against one of the greatest horses in recent years, so he already knows what it will take to beat him. Trained by Dale Romans, Keen Ice also ran in the Kentucky Derby and finished a respectable seventh in a field of 18. Earlier this year during the Triple Crown prep season he finished fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.
The next horse on my list for Saturday’s race would be Competitive Edge. This three-year old colt is trained by Todd Pletcher and while he was not a true contender during the Triple Crown racing season he still comes into this race with some strong credentials. He started this season with a victory in the Tamarac Stakes in late March at Gulfstream Park, but the biggest win of his career came in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs the same day that American Pharoah won the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
My third top-contender for this year’s Haskell Invitational would be trainer Edward Plesa Jr.’s entry Mr. Jordan. While he may not be in the same class as the Triple Crown Champ, this three-year old colt as what it takes to finish in the money by placing no lower than first or second in six career starts. His biggest victory came his last time out in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 21. Along with the home track advantage, Mr. Jordan looked strong in a second-place finish in the Tarpon Stakes at Gulfstream Park in late April.
Rounding out my Top 5 horses for Saturday’s race is Top Clearance. While this three-year old colt has never even raced in a major graded stakes race let alone win one, he made my list with a solid racing record at Monmouth Park, which has to count for something. Trained by Wayne Catalano, he posted a victory in an Allowance race at this track earlier this month. His record this season also includes a first and second place finish in earlier Maiden Special Weight events at Churchill Downs.
William Hill Haskell Invitational - Official Pick
There is no way you can pick against American Pharoah to win given the overall field for Saturday’s Haskell Stakes so the best bet is to try and wheel him with two other horses. My sports pick would be to go with Keen Ice and Mr. Jordan in either combination of second and third.