Betting Against Maximum Security in Haskell Invitational

Gambling
Fans enjoy a day at Monmouth at the 2015 Haskell Invitational Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues on Saturday, July 20 with the $1 million, Grade 1 TVG.com Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Seven three-year-olds, including three veterans of the Triple Crown, have been entered to contest this prestigious 1 1/8-mile race, which serves as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the November 2 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. The Haskell will be broadcast live on NBC Sports starting at 5 p.m. ET — be sure to tune in and watch!

The majority of racing fans will focus their attention on #7 Maximum Security, and understandably so. Trained by Jason Servis, the New Year’s Day colt burst onto the scene with an impressive gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 1 Xpressbet Florida Derby during the spring, a performance that stamped him among the favorites for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.

Maximum Security lived up to expectations at Churchill Downs, setting the Derby pace and battling back through the stretch to cross the finish line 1 ¾ lengths in front. It was a huge performance, but following a prolonged inquiry, Maximum Security was disqualified for ducking out on the far turn and causing interference.

Six weeks after having a career-defining victory snatched away, Maximum Security returned to action in the 1 1/16-mile TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, a local prep for the Haskell. Favored at the legal minimum odds of 1-20, Maximum Security stumbled at the start, recovered to set the pace … and weakened in the final furlong to finish second behind fellow Haskell contender #1 King for a Day.

You can make several excuses for Maximum Security’s shocking defeat in the Pegasus. The stumble at the start surely didn’t help his chances, and Maximum Security had reportedly trained in lackluster fashion leading up to the race.

But from a Beyer and Brisnet speed figure perspective, Maximum Security ran as fast as ever in the Pegasus, and in my opinion he was simply the second-best horse on the day. King for a Day ran a huge race in his own right, pressing Maximum Security every step of the way before tenaciously reeling him in to prevail by a half-length with eye-catching speed figures of 102 (Beyer) and 105 (Brisnet).

Did the Pegasus mark a transition of power from one 3-year-old to another? Maximum Security was undeniably the star of the spring, but his big effort at Churchill Downs seemed to take something out of him. Since he returned six weeks later to run another hard race in the Pegasus, I wonder if Maximum Security might be vulnerable to regression in the Haskell.

In contrast, King for a Day kicked off 2019 with an easy victory against a quality field in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico, after which he upset Maximum Security in the Pegasus. With just two starts under his belt this season, King for a Day is fresh and on the rise for three-time Haskell-winning trainer Todd Pletcher. If you’re looking for the “now” horse — a colt with proven talent and the upside to keep improving throughout the summer — this well-bred son of Uncle Mo is one to be excited about.

Since the Haskell field is filled with front-runners and speed horses, I’ll bank on King for a Day getting the job done on Saturday. His willingness to rate off the lead should allow him to sit a perfect trip behind the front-runners before rallying in the homestretch.

In contrast, a fast pace could prove problematic for Maximum Security, who could have difficulty reaching the lead while breaking from post-position seven. Maximum Security may be forced to employ stalking tactics instead, a question mark for a colt who has raced almost exclusively as a front-runner.

Therefore, when playing the exacta and trifecta, I’ll cover for the possibility of Maximum Security finishing out of the top three by using #6 Everfast (runner-up in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes) and #5 Mucho Gusto (a three-time graded stakes winner) in equal strength with the disqualified Derby winner. Mucho Gusto races for eight-time Haskell-winning trainer Bob Baffert, while Everfast is a late-running colt who should benefit from a hot pace in the Haskell.

Depending on your budget, here are a couple of wagering strategies to consider:

Wagering Strategy on a $12 Budget

$6 to win on #1 King for a Day

What to say at the betting window: Monmouth Park, 12th race, $6 to win on 1

$2 exacta: 1 with 5,6,7 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Monmouth Park, 12th race, $2 exacta: 1 with 5,6,7

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$12 to win on #1 King for a Day

What to say at the betting window: Monmouth Park, 12th race, $12 to win on 1

$2 exacta: 1 with 5,6,7 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Monmouth Park, 12th race, $2 exacta: 1 with 5,6,7

$2 trifecta: 1 with 5,6,7 with 5,6,7 ($12)

What to say at the betting window: Monmouth Park, 12th race, $1 trifecta: 1 with 5,6,7 with 5,6,7

Good luck, and enjoy the race!

2019 TVG.com Haskell Invitational S.
July 20th, 2019

Winning Time: 1:47.56
  • Purse: $1,000,000
  • Distance: 1 1/8 Miles
  • Age: 3 yo
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 1:47.56
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
7 Maximum Security
$3.60
$2.60
$2.20
2nd
5 Mucho Gusto
$3.40
$2.80
3rd
3 Spun to Run
$5.60
4th
6 Everfast
5th
1 King for a Day
6th
4 Bethlehem Road
Scratches
Payoff
Pick 3
6-2-7
6-2-7
$30
Pick 4
7-6-2-2/7
7-6-2-2/7
$109
Pick 5
1/3/4/5-7-6-2-2/7
1/3/4/5-7-6-2-2/7
$186
Daily Double
2-7
2-7
$8
Exacta
7-5
7-5
$6
Superfecta
7-5-3-6
7-5-3-6
$19
Trifecta
7-5-3
7-5-3
$23
Race Replay
Play
Payoff
Pick 3
6-2-7
6-2-7
$30
Pick 4
7-6-2-2/7
7-6-2-2/7
$109
Pick 5
1/3/4/5-7-6-2-2/7
1/3/4/5-7-6-2-2/7
$186
Daily Double
2-7
2-7
$8
Exacta
7-5
7-5
$6
Superfecta
7-5-3-6
7-5-3-6
$19
Trifecta
7-5-3
7-5-3
$23

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