43rd Running of the Haskell Invitational G1
Distance: 1 1/8-miles
Purse: $1 million
Monmouth Park, Race 12, Sunday, August 1, 2010
Haskell Picks and Analysis
1.Lookin At Lucky
3. First Dude
4. Super Saver
Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky takes on Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and six more solid rivals in the 43rd running of the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday, August 1, 2010 and its truly anybodys race.
From post position out the Haskell field includes: Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky, Withers Stakes winner Afleet Again, Florida Derby winner Ice Box, Preakness Stakes runner-up First Dude, Spend A Buck runner-up Our Dark Knight, Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, troubled trip Uptowncharlybrown, and Long Branch winner Trappe Shot.
Despite the fact that Lookin At Lucky drew the rail, well be siding with him for three reasons. Hes proven under fire; his trainer Bob Baffert has won this race three times with Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002) and Roman Ruler (2005) - and theres a good chance hell get a perfect trip behind the speed. Were a little worried about his fitness, as he hasnt run since gutting out a -length victory over First Dude in the Preakness Stakes on May 15, but hes been working well since, and Bafferts proven record in the race says hell have him ready. There are some who might argue that the Haskell is simply a prep race for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 28, but were not buying that angle with $600,000 and a possible stranglehold on championship honors going to the winner.
Trainer Nick Zito has both Our Dark Knight and Ice Box in the Haskell and with Ice Box needing a pace to run at logic suggests he will send Our Dark Knight after likely inside speed First Dude. Super Saver and Trappe Shot have the talent to force the issue from the outside, but are more likely to sit just back of the top pair and wait for them to tire. Depending on how Lookin At Lucky breaks he should get a decent trip from the rail just back of the aforementioned four. The next flight back will include ralliers Afleet Again, Ice Box and Uptowncharlybrown, all of whom should get the pace they need to set up their late runs.
First Dude is a very good speed horse. He made Lookin At Lucky work hard to wear him down in the mile and three-sixteenths Preakness and set the pace to deep stretch in the mile and a half Belmont before tiring to finish third beaten only a length in race that was probably too far for him. Its difficult to imagine him wilting from the other speed at this shorter distance of a mile and an eighth, and he could even win the race. The more likely scenario is that he shakes off Our Dark Knight somewhere on the final turn and is then taken on by Super Saver and Trappe Shot. If that pair moves to early however, they will find themselves in a heated battle that should last at least to mid stretch.
Super Saver came off a perfect-trip win in the Kentucky Derby to run a very dull eighth in the Preakness after pressing First Dude to late in the final turn. Prior to that he hadnt really run a bad race, but were not convinced hes a good horse yet after that Preakness debacle. Keep in mind however, that his trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race twice before in 2006 with Bluegrass Cat and in 2007 with Any Give Saturday.
Trappe Shot is more intriguing. Hes paired up best-in-the-field 105 Beyer Speed figures in his last two races and hes won four in a row including the mile and a sixteenth Long Branch at Monmouth in his last start on July 10. Truthfully though, he beat only three horses in the Long Branch and they were nowhere near the quality of the horses he will face in the Haskell. He is however, proven over the track and he does have the pedigree to get the mile and an eighth, being by Tapit (by Pulpit) out of a Private Account mare. Trappe Shot likes to sit just off the pace and will like challenge the speed on the final turn. We just dont think hes going by First Dude with ease in his first start against a horse of that caliber. Could he be a good one? Sure. But at a short price well take the proven commodity Lookin At Lucky.
While First Dude, Our Dark Knight, Super Saver and Trappe Shot are sorting themselves out on the turn for home and in early stretch, Lookin At Lucky should be sitting perfectly waiting to make his run. Hes not flashy, but he knows how to get the job done when asked and with a good trip hes the horse to beat. Hes only run worse than second twice in his 10-start career and he had legitimate excuses. In the Santa Anita Derby he was shut off on the turn for home and in the Kentucky Derby he was bumped, bashed and squashed early before making a solid run to finish a better-than-it-looked sixth. A rider switch to Matt Garcia for the Preakness resulted in a good trip and a return to the winners circle and Garcia will again be aboard in the Haskell.
Lookin At Lucky should be fit enough off the 75-day layoff based on his regular work schedule, but Monmouth Park can be unforgiving to short horses. If thats the case on Sunday and Lookin At Lucky comes up short after battling with the speed in the stretch, either Ice Box or Afleet Again could be the beneficiaries.
Florida Derby winner Ice Box debatably had enough trouble in the Kentucky Derby to cost him the win and really had little pace to set up his run when finishing ninth in the Belmont Stakes on June 15. Still, he never got out of a gallop in the Belmont and were still wondering why he didnt put in even a mild bid. Our thoughts are that he isnt really that good but he does have a shot at winning the Haskell with a perfect trip and a hot pressured pace.
Withers Stakes winner Afleet Again is another who would benefit from a perfect trip behind a hot pace. The Withers Stakes winner was comprised by slow paces in both of his last starts, the Spend A Buck, in which he was beaten only a neck for second by fellow Haskell entrant Our Dark Knight, and the Pegasus, in which he rallied into the slow pace to finish second. While Afleet Again appears just a notch below these on quality and numbers, his last two starts have been solid races over the Monmouth surface and he does get rider Joe Bravo, who is currently tied for top spot in the Monmouth Park jockey standings.
If youre looking for a Haskell superfecta longshot you might want to throw Uptowncharlybrown (15-1 morning line) on some of your smaller tickets. Beaten only three lengths while finishing fifth in the Belmont Stakes with a slipped saddle and a lost weight pad, he was also coming into that race off a 7-week layoff. In his race previous to that, the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, he made a wide move to finish third beaten only 1 -lengths after being bumped early and dropping well back. In his third start back in the Tampa Bay Derby he finished fifth beaten only 2 -lengths for the win and only 2 -lengths by Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver with yet another troubled trip. He doesnt appear to be as good as these, but he might finally get a good trip.
Below follow the entries, post positions, jockeys and morning-line odds for the 2010 Haskell Invitational. Should be a great race!
2010 Haskell Invitational Entries, Post Positions, Odds and Jockeys
1. Lookin At Lucky (5/2) Garcia
2. Afleet Again (12-1) Bravo
3. Ice Box (9/2) Lezcano
4.First Dude (6-1) Dominguez
5.Our Dark Knight (15-1) Trujillo
6. Super Saver (3-1) Borel
7. Uptowncharlybrown (15-1) Maragh
8. Trappe Shot (3-1) Garcia