2023 Haskell Stakes

$1,000,000 Grade I Haskell Stakes | July 22, 2023
Monmouth Park | Race 12 | Dirt | 9 Furlongs

.4. Mage at 4/1 or better

.3. Salute The Stars at 10/1 or better

Exacta Box .3. .4.

Trifecta .3. .4. / .3. .4. .5. .6. / .1. .3. .4. .5. .6.

#1 Geaux Rocket Ride
Can't be considered anything but well-intentioned here just on the nature of the coast-to-coast ship for a barn that knows what they're doing in this scenario. A quick NEG sprint and a REV route combined forces in last to a well-compressed 75/73 running line that features enough speed to be in range and enough finish to get things done. Needs a move forward now to handle these but as stated, he wouldn't be over here if they didn't think he had the potential to make it happen. Main concern is simply whether the odds offered match his odds of popping enough of that needed improvement.

#2 Awesome Strong
This is a really optimistic entry here to ask him to handle this distance and class jump after posting forward-spent positive dirt spreads in all spins. If anything, maybe he can contribute to pace and help the set-up Tapit Trice would like to see, but I'm finding it pretty tough to fantasize a scenario where Awesome Strong finds the board here.

#3 Salute The Stars
I like the story I'm being told here. Set a bit of a juvenile foundation with race experience on the less stressful turf and return with age progression to post a REV victory handling 9 panels first time on the main followed by a local win. Lots of upside here and logical upset contender if he takes another step forward.

#4 Mage
Derby winner has been overly impressive as one with a quick stride frequency, a sort you don't typically see so strong over distance. His dirt spread has grown more and more mathematically negative (late speed) over his entire career. I have a hard time not seeing him as the top contender here given that excellent spread progression while outrunning his physical profile. A lot has been made of trainer's comments on his pointing toward the Travers which is a fair bullet point, but perhaps being taken too far by some sounding as if he's just not going to try and win this $1 million race at all? For me, he projects to be the most likely to offer fair odds compared to his win chances.

#5 Tapit Trice
It's tough to ever be highly confident in a runner that thrives on staying power and long striding as they need help from rivals to provide the right race flow, but I will say I'm much more interested in him here getting back to his last winning distance and looking to pop back up to his ceiling now recovered after I called him “unbettable” in the Derby and Belmont when he was trying to sustain off a series of DTOPs. If there's enough fans of rivals to let the odds slide up a bit, I could get on board at some point, but I think it's most likely he's well bet enough that I relegate him a likely board hitter but uninterested in a Win proposition.

#6 Howgreatisnate
Really nice juvenile lines with several well-compressed sprint wins. Some hiccups when he went to two turns but seems to be wheeling back into form and getting better with distance with latest local spins featuring a dirt spread switch-up of +3.3 to -4.6. Longshot probably over his head but if the connections are going to take a deep shot like this, looks like they indeed have him sitting on an honest effort as a threat to add value to deep exotics.

#7 Extra Anejo
The positive would be owning the highest 4F and Final Figures of the field off an 81/80h romp meaning ability-wise, he figures to have the potential to be a contender here. On the flipside, those big figures off a DTOP have tagged him with the “Regressor” designation by the Value Plays' algorithm. This will be his first outing as a non-favorite and he's shown not to be the quickest or cleanest out of the gate. I find myself on the fade side of a single-digit odds offering as despite having the potential, he seems to stand a decent chance of seeing more heels early than he has previously taking a big bump in class here. Needs to show me something here I consider in the double-digit odds.

#8 Arabian Knight
Long-awaited return of the $2.3 million colt comes with limited information for our purposes. Does sport the big COMP on debut often seen from top juveniles as well as a nicely compressed stretchout in slop but is void of fast track route form. Should receive unsurprisingly high marks on clocker reports for return off a typical fast and long work tab for Baffert runners. Looks like one of those spots where you have to decide how much you value expectation versus odds offered. If he's really a $7 horse here (morning line), it would become tempting to be on board. However, when he starts getting hammered into the 3/2 region, I'll be ready to fade the lay-off and look for value elsewhere.


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