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A look at the horses racing at Haskell Stakes

Seven thoroughbreds will try to earn a starting spot in this year’s Kentucky Derby by competing in the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey today. The Haskell is one of the premier summer races restricted to 3 year olds, with its Grade One status (the highest level) and a $1 million dollar total purse.

Because of this year’s delayed Kentucky Derby, the Haskell will also be awarding Derby points for the top four finishers.

Dr. Post, who drew the rail (Post No. 1), was last seen finishing second in the G1 Belmont Stakes to the current top-rated 3-year-old in the World: Tiz The Law. He has two wins and a second-place finish in his last three starts, and will likely be tracking the early leaders in the Haskell. The Belmont is typically the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, but this year that deck has been re-shuffled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kentucky Derby, typically the first Saturday in May, is now scheduled for Sept. 5. The Preakness, typically held on the third Saturday in May, is now scheduled for Oct. 3. It is too soon to tell how many, if any, fans will be permitted at these races.

Authentic, who is currently rated third behind Tiz The Law and Honor A.P. – who beat Authentic in the Santa Anita Derby — will exit Post No. 2. He will likely be at or near the lead, and will probably be the betting favorite. He won his first three career races before his second-place finish last time out. Bob Baffert is his trainer and the silver-haired guru has won the Haskell eight times already in his training career.

Jesus’ Team is really stepping up in class, as two races back he was running for a $25,000 claiming tag. When you run in a claiming race, it means that if someone would have dropped in a claiming slip just prior to that race they could have owned him for $25,000. Now he is running in a Grade One and competing for a piece of a million dollar purse.

He finished a credible second in his last start and won his previous two races while competing in claiming company. He is clearly improving as his Equibase numbers have climbed significantly. As these young horses mature, his connections figure it is worth taking a shot. He is definitely a long shot to finish in the top three.

Ancient Warrior is in Post No. 4 and this will also be his first try at the Graded Stakes level. He won his first and only start as a 2-year-old and has finished third in his last two starts. He will probably be coming from well off the pace setters and will hope for a meltdown — going too fast to soon — by the early leaders.

Fame To Famous was last seen finishing fourth in an allowance race at Monmouth Park. He has only one win in nine career starts. He will exit Post No. 5 and will likely be the longest shot in the field. Although his best Equibase speed figure is a respectable 96, he has been inconsistent. Several other entries top Equibase numbers are over 100.

Labda has won two of his last three starts, but was a disappointing sixth after contesting the early pace in the G3 Ohio Derby in his most recent race. His resume includes four wins, a second-place finish and a third-place finish in nine career starts. He was sold at the Timonium auction, located just north of Baltimore, this past December for $100,000. He does have two non graded stakes victories to his credit, as well a third in a G3. He drew Post No. 6.

The outside Post No. 7 entry is Ny Traffic. He has two wins in eight starts as well as two seconds and one third in Graded Stakes competition. He will probably be the third betting choice behind Authentic and Dr. Post, and does benefit from being able to track the early leaders from his outside post position.

NBC will televise the Haskell beginning at 5 p.m.

The Haskell will be contested at a distance of 1 1/8th miles. The Belmont was also contested at this distance this year, even though it is usually run at 1 1/2 miles. The Kentucky Derby is contested at the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, and the Preakness is just 1/16th of a mile shorter than the Derby.

And down the stretch they come!

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