The $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) had to settle for a trio of runners-up from the Triple Crown, but that doesn’t mean the 54th edition of the marquee race at Monmouth Park will be any less exciting.
Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon, and Hot Rod Charlie — second in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Belmont Stakes (G1), respectively — are the star attractions in a field of seven going 1 1 /8 miles with the winner earning an expenses-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in November.
The Haskell will be televised by NBC Sports from 5-6 p.m. ET, with a post time of 5:47 p.m.
Saratoga’s summer season stages Day 2 of its stellar meet with the $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1) and the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (G2).
Also at Monmouth, the $500,000 United Nations Stakes (G1) has a field of 10 3 and up females going 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
At Del Mar, which opened Friday (July 16), the main event is the $250,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) for 3-year-olds and up.
Summer racing is in full swing, and the TV lineup is a full one: America’s Day at the Races on Fox Sports will have live racing from 1-2 p.m. ET on FS1, then FS2 takes over from 2-5:30 p.m., 6:30-7 p.m., and 8-10 p.m. ET. Fox airs racing from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and NBC airs from 5-6 p.m. TVG will have daylong coverage.
Hot Rod Charlie, third in the Derby and second in the Belmont, has the 6-5 favorite’s role, but Derby runner-up Mandaloun is at 2-1 and Midnight Bourbon (second in the Preakness) is 9-2.
A field of seven is entered, and even though Mandaloun won the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth last month, it is the Doug O’Neill-trained Hot Rod Charlie that could be ready to grab that elusive Grade 1 victory. In fact, every horse in the field is in search of a first Grade 1 win.
Hot Rod Charlie will be ridden by Flavien Prat.
“Charlie is a pretty versatile runner. Obviously in his last couple of races he went out strong. We’ll see what Flavien feels like coming out of the gate, but I imagine it will be a similar race as the last couple,’’ said Roadrunner Racing’s Greg Helm, the owner of the colt along with Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable, and William Strauss.
“To win the Haskell would be huge. Just huge,” said trainer Brad Cox, who trains Mandaloun. (and Belmont winner Essential Quality). “He’s a good horse and he’s been training extremely well. This (level) is where we belong. I love this horse.”
Watch out for following Sea, a promising colt recently transferred to Todd Pletcher’s barn. The son of champion sprinter Run Happy has won his last two starts by a combined 12¼ lengths but is stretching out from 6½ furlongs for the first time.
Arklow, trained by Brad Cox, just keeps rolling along. At 7, he’s won a graded stakes race in each of the past five years and looks to win again in a field of 10.
In a 32-race career, he’s earned more than $2.7 million, including the 2019 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Arklow won the Louisville Stakes (G3) in his only start of 2021.
Last year, Arklow ran fourth in this race after being sent off as the 13-10 favorite. He will wear blinkers.
“He’s really moved forward since we’ve added the blinkers,” Cox said. “His only defeat with them came in the Breeders’ Cup. The blinkers seem to have picked his head up and are keeping him in the race mentally.”
Trainer Chad Brown’s Lemista is the slight 5-2 favorite in this field of eight but Harvey’s Lil Goil and Althiqa – both 3-1 – are more than capable of winning this prestigious race.
Brown also sends out Pocket Square (8-1) in search of extending his record of six victories in the Diana, including the last five in a row.
“We’ve had enormous success with it; I’m lucky. We’ve had the right horses,” said Brown. “It’s a real honor to have that level of success looking back at five Dianas in a row.”
Harvey’s Lil Goil held off Lemista to win the 1 1/16-mile Beaugay (G3) at Belmont on May 8.
Trainer Charlie Appleby’s 4-year-old Godolphin filly Althiqa is a winner of the Just a Game (G1). He also saddled 4-1 choice Summer Romance, second in the Just a Game.
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.