2020 Haskell Stakes Cheat Sheet

Authentic (left) and Dr Post headline a seven-horse field entered in Saturday’s 53rd running of the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park. (Eclipse Sportswire/Ryan Thompson-Coglianese Photo)

In years past, Saturday’s $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park marked the resumption of major stakes races for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown. Looking back over the previous two decades, the Haskell was often used as a midsummer launching pad for superstars such as 2001 Preakness and Belmont winner Point Given, 2009 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, and 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah as they burnished their already impressive credentials en route to earning championship honors at the Eclipse Awards.

But this year, the Haskell has a newfound significance due to the rescheduling of the Triple Crown. Churchill Downs added the Haskell to its Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve series following the postponement of the Derby to Sept. 5, and the Haskell offers Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale. The Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Haskell is also part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” program, offering the winner an automatic berth to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.

The 2020 Haskell drew a seven-horse field, headlined by Bob Baffert-trained Runhappy Santa Anita Derby runner-up Authentic and Todd Pletcher-trained Dr Post, runner-up last month in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. The Haskell will be shown live on NBC during a broadcast from 5 - 6 p.m. ET Saturday.

Read on for information on all seven Haskell starters.

Lauren KIng/Coglianese Photo

1. Dr Post (5-2)

Jockey: Joe Bravo

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: St. Elias Stable

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $261,635

Earnings per start: $65,409

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Kentucky Derby points: 60

Pedigree: Quality Road – Mary Delaney, by Hennessy

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Dr Post enters the Haskell off of a good runner-up effort behind current Kentucky Derby points leader Tiz the Law in the June 20 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, and if this lightly raced colt takes another step forward in Saturday’s Haskell, he’s a good bet to solidify his own spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate with a first- or second-place finish. Dr Post only raced once last year, finishing fourth in his July debut at Belmont Park, but returned in March and April at Gulfstream Park to post back-to-back wins, the second a gritty 1 ½-length score in the 1 1/16-mile Unbridled Stakes where he was jostled in early stretch but recovered to win going away. He then stepped up in class and rallied in the stretch to secure second in the Belmont, albeit 3 ¾ lengths behind Tiz the Law, and his come-from-behind running style figures to benefit him in the Haskell where Ny Traffic, Authentic, and a couple of other horses should compete for the lead early and ensure an honest pace. Todd Pletcher has won the Haskell three times, with Bluegrass Cat in 2006, Any Given Saturday in 2007, and Verrazano in 2013. "Jersey" Joe Bravo replaces Dr Post’s regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. in Saturday’s Haskell, as the reigning Eclipse Award winner chose to remain in Saratoga for the duration of its meet due to travel restrictions on jockeys during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bravo won the 2004 Haskell aboard Lion Heart.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

2. Authentic (4-5)

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: Spendthrift Farm, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $411,200

Earnings per start: $102,800

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 113

Kentucky Derby points: 100

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: California invader Authentic should vie for favoritism with Dr Post in Saturday’s Haskell based on several factors. First, he’s 3-for-4 lifetime, boasting clear victories in the one-mile Sham Stakes in January and the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes in March. Second, he arrives off of a runner-up effort behind Honor A. P. in the June 6 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby where he did not have the best of starts in the 1 1/8-mile race but still finished 1 ¼ lengths clear of third-place Rushie (who subsequently ran third in last Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes). And third, he’s trained by Bob Baffert, who has made the Jersey Shore his personal playground over the past 20 years, winning the Haskell a record eight times. Authentic has moved up to the top of Baffert’s stacked stable of Kentucky Derby contenders after Nadal was retired and Charlatan sidelined, and he already has a secure spot in the Derby starting gate with 100 qualifying points. While Authentic doesn’t need to win the Haskell, a good performance is expected, and it will be interesting to see if Mike Smith rates him off the lead or (more likely) takes advantage of this colt’s speed and challenges Ny Traffic and a couple others early on a Monmouth main track that often favors front-runners. Baffert’s Haskell wins came with Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002), Roman Ruler (2005), Lookin At Lucky (2010), Coil (2011), Paynter (2012), Bayern (2014), and American Pharoah (2015). He’s also finished second in the Haskell four times, including with Mucho Gusto last year. Mike Smith has won the Haskell twice, aboard Hall of Famer Holy Bull in 1994 and on Coronado's Quest in 1998.

3. Jesus’ Team (15-1)

Jockey: Samy Camacho

Trainer: Jose Francisco D’Angelo

Owner: Grupo 7C Racing Stable

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $48,640

Earnings per start: $6,949

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Tapiture – Golden Memories, by Suave

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Florida-based Jesus’ Team tackles tough company in the Haskell following a breakthrough effort of sorts in his last start, where he jumped up significantly in class to face Derby trail horses Sole Volante, Shivaree, and Ete Indien in a June 10 one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park and rallied to finish in second, just three-quarters of a length behind Sole Volante. Prior to that, this son of young sire Tapiture had won two starts in a row, taking a maiden claiming race in March and then a claiming race in May at Gulfstream, both coming the same one-mile distance as his June allowance race. He earned a 106 Equibase Speed Figure in that runner-up effort to Sole Volante, and overall his speed figures have been ticking upward with each start. He’s a deserved longshot in the Haskell and could very well be a “horse for the course” on Gulfstream’s main track (where he’s made five of his seven starts) that will struggle away from his familiar confines. Still, based on his last start Jesus’ Team is worth considering as a payoff-boosting option in trifecta tickets.

4. Ancient Warrior (20-1)

Jockey: Trevor McCarthy

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Owner: Al Graziani

Career record: 5 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $50,130

Earnings per start: $10,026

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Constitution – Wellington Beauty, by Forestry

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Ancient Warrior turned heads in his very first start last November at Del Mar, winning his debut in a six-furlong race by 4 ¼ lengths and earning an impressive 100 Equibase Speed Figure. He did not start again until February 2020, however, and tired late to finish fourth after setting the pace in another six-furlong race, this time at Oaklawn Park. Since then, he’s competed in three more allowance-optional claiming races, finishing sixth and third at Oaklawn and then third in his most recent start at Churchill Downs on June 14. In that race, he was bumped at the start and raced off the pace before closing late, a departure from his usual forwardly-placed running style. Sitting off what projects to be a solid early pace in the Haskell could benefit this son of promising young sire Constitution (sire of Tiz the Law), but he’ll still need to improve significantly to have any shot at hitting the board as he tries two turns for the first time in a $1 million, Grade 1 stakes. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won the 1989 Haskell with King Glorious.

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5. Fame to Famous (30-1)

Jockey: Carlos Hernandez

Trainer: John Mc Allen

Owner: John Mc Allen

Career record: 8 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $70,472

Earnings per start: $7,830

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Tapit – Assateague, by Stormy Atlantic

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Longshot Fame to Famous faces a huge class test in Saturday’s Haskell, plus a surface switch that should make his post-time odds gargantuan. This son of top sire Tapit has made seven of his eight career starts on turf, including his win last November at Belmont Park. In his only dirt start, a division of the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford in February at Fair Grounds, he finished last of 11, defeated by 26 ¾ lengths at 106.10-1 odds. He’s made two more starts on turf since then and has not hit the board, although his most recent effort — fifth in a May 2 stakes at Gulfstream Park — did earn him a career-best 96 Equibase Speed Figure. A projected honest early pace in the Haskell is a plus for this deep closer, but overall Fame to Famous appears thoroughly overmatched.

Coady Photography

6. Lebda (30-1)

Jockey: Alex Cintron

Trainer: Claudio Gonzalez

Owner: Euro Stable

Career record: 9 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $224,525

Earnings per start: $24,947

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Kentucky Derby points: 2

Pedigree: Raison d’Etat – Lenders Way, by Hook and Ladder

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Laurel Park-based Lebda has amassed a solid record through nine career starts, winning four times and taking two listed stakes races at his home track earlier this year. He even earned a couple of Kentucky Derby points last September when finishing third in the Iroquois Stakes, the first race on Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby series that, as it turned out, will cover nearly an entire year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, however, he profiles as a longshot win candidate in the Haskell since, aside from the Iroquois, he has struggled mightily when stepping out of Maryland to tackle tougher competition. Coming off of those two stakes wins at Laurel in February and March, followed by a three-month layoff, he shipped to Thistledown for the Ohio Derby on June 27 and received some betting support at 6-1 odds, only to finish sixth, defeated by 11 ¾ lengths. This colt’s Equibase Speed Figures have stalled in the mid- to upper-90s range, and that’s not good enough to secure him anything more than fourth against this field.

Lauren KIng/Coglianese Photo

7. Ny Traffic (7-2)

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Owners: John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing and Paul Braverman

Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $365,470

Earnings per start: $45,684

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Kentucky Derby points: 70

Pedigree: Cross Traffic – Mamie Reilly, by Graeme Hall

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Authentic and Dr Post are clear standouts in Saturday’s Haskell based on prior form, but any horseplayer looking for an upset candidate is well advised to consider Ny Traffic. He’s a must-use in exacta tickets at the very least based on how he has performed in his three most recent starts, after he was elevated in class to compete in Kentucky Derby preps. He started that string with a third-place finish in the second division of the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford, competing well in the stretch after dueling for the early lead, and then ran second behind gate-to-wire winner Wells Bayou in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, another game effort. In his last start, once again Ny Traffic was part of a contested early pace in the Matt Winn Stakes on May 23 at Churchill Downs, and he actually led briefly in the stretch before yielding to Maxfield but still holding second. This son of Cross Traffic does not shy away from an early pace duel, which he may get Saturday facing off against Authentic, and although he’ll need to boost his Equibase Speed Figure to contend for win honors, he’s shown enough fight to hang with the top contenders and pick up some more Kentucky Derby points. Third-place (20 points) should be enough to secure his spot at Churchill Downs on Sept. 5. Paco Lopez, a perennial leading jockey at Monmouth, finished third in last year's Haskell on Spun to Run.

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