Saturday, July 29, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Haskell INV. Stakes (G1)

Strong Field May Mud Wrestle in Haskell Invitational

By: John Caro, S. FL. ThoroFan Member

This is one of the post Triple Crown races for three-year old with big bucks on the line. This year’s version has seven runners of which six have competed at the grade one level and the remaining contender is a two-time Grade III winning speedster. The problem for today’s race is the weather forecast, and it’s a doozy.  See the WC report here:

Rain and more rain is forecast for the weekend and this race is the 12th of 14 on Sunday. Monmouth is a speed favoring track but, how they prepare it for the race may influence the results. 

I’m going to start with a colt who has been over the track, cruises at high speed and is two for two on the off track. Timeline (#3) C. Brown/Castellano – He won his last out here in the Grade III Pegasus on a fast track. Prior to that his two races were in the slop going a mile and then a mile and an eighth at very high speeds. This Hard Spud wonder trained by 2016 Eclipse Trainer Chad Brown is four for four lifetime and Castellano has been aboard for each one. There are others here with far more experience but, he will be tough to catch if he gets out of the gate well.

Irish War Cry (#1) G. Motion/Maragh – Being #1 is great in most cases but not here today. We know IWC loves to hit the lead and stay there. He can track the pace like he did in the Wood though I think he has more work to do today with speed immediately to his outside. The additional concern is the track conditions. He run in the KD over a wet track was not good after the second call. Maragh has been aboard for the last three, winning the Wood, disaster at Kentucky, Second in the Belmont. He training well and I’ve liked him all through the spring but I don’t see him as the winner today.

Practical Joke (#4) C. Brown/Rosario – He’s the only Grade I winner (twice as a two-year old) in the field. The problem is he wins going through one turn and seems to be missing something when going two turns. Having said that; he did fight well in the Bluegrass to get home second down the lane against a determined Irap. Can’t put my finger on it. He’s a fighter and I won’t leave him off my tickets.

Battle of Midway (#2) Hollendorfer/Prat – Speaking of fighters, what a wonderful display of guts in the KD in wet conditions. He’s never been out of the money in six tries. He likes it near the front and can be there to finish well. Prat has been on him twice to win, recently in the Grade III Affirmed Stakes. Not sure why he’s listed as 6th for power ratings in the Bris but, they have their opinion and I have mine. He comes back off a layoff and wins going away, nice. Second off the layoff, I expect to see more. His ability to close well is a plus and the odds are right.

McCraken (#5) Wilkes/B. Hernandez Jr. – He’s coming off a win in the Grade III Matt Winn t Churchill with 43 days’ rest. I expect that will help as he had the same rest cycle coming out of the Derby. On paper, he doesn’t look fast but he’s a steady and got it done as a mid-pack closer five out of seven times. Brian H. has been aboard for each of his runs and he knows how to pace a race. The only down side is the track conditions. His daddy won over this track in the slop. His breeding suggests he can overcome a wet surface, he just hasn’t shown us yet. If the pace is just furious he will be in the money.

Girven (#7) J. Sharp/Albarado – Another who likes to be off the pace some to finish strong and is a three-time winner doing so. Other than the Derby he’s never been out of the exacta and he has nice odds today. He struggled during the Derby in wet conditions but the running line talks about him being roughed and in tight at the start. I think the traffic jam at the start and traffic in the last turn didn’t favor his running. This smaller field should not be a problem. Robby knows his business and I feel confident that he can find a way to get in the exacta.

Hence (#6) Asmussen/P. Lopez – This three-time winner seems to be a dead closer. His three wins al came from that scenario. This will be his second off a layoff and we could see some improvement after circling 5 wide to win the Iowa Derby. He does have a win over the slop, plus. The best thing going for this guy today is Paco Lopez riding at this track. Paco is 25% here with a 75% ITM history this year. The odds are incredible. 

Now how can we structure a winning bet that doesn’t cost a lot and might pay well? There are seven runners and we have a way to play a Trifecta that just does fit the situation.
A with B,C,D with All.
$5 Trifecta: 3 / 2,7,5 / 1,2,3,4,5,6,7     Total:  $75
$6 Exacta:  3/2,5,7,6     Total: $24

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