2021 Haskell Stakes Tipsheet
Saturday’s $1 million Haskell S. (G1) at Monmouth Park isn’t part of the Triple Crown, but it might as well be. The 1 1/8-mile “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) has drawn the classic-placed trio of Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun, and Midnight Bourbon, along with four newcomers aiming to upset the Triple Crown alumni.
- #4 Hot Rod Charlie
- #3 Mandaloun
- #6 Midnight Bourbon
- #1 Following Sea
#1 Following Sea has shown a world of talent sprinting, with a 6 1/2-length allowance win at Belmont Park standing as the latest testament to his talent. But the son of champion sprinter Runhappy has never won (or run) over one mile or farther and has yet to win (or even compete) in a stakes, two traits shared by almost all previous Haskell winners. These are significant obstacles for Following Sea to conquer.
#2 Antigravity lost his first 10 starts, but has gone 2-for-2 since shipping to Monmouth Park, dominating a two-turn maiden special weight before rallying to victory by a neck in a one-mile allowance. The son of First Samurai will face much tougher competition in the Haskell, but there’s plenty of speed in the field, and it’s not hard to envision a scenario where Antigravity settles back and rallies down the lane to crash the trifecta or superfecta.
#3 Mandaloun crossed the wire second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) before getting a taste of Monmouth Park in the Pegasus S., where he rallied to victory by a neck over Gotham S. (G3) winner Weyburn. The Pegasus showcased a new dimension for Mandaloun, who typically stalks the pace, so he’ll have options for working out an ideal trip whether a fast or slow tempo unfolds in the Haskell.
#4 Hot Rod Charlie ran too good to lose in the Belmont S. (G1) last month, carving out a fast pace before battling on gamely to finish second behind champion juvenile Essential Quality. Hot Rod Charlie actually pulled 11 1/4 lengths clear of the rest while earning a massive 110 Brisnet Speed rating. The Louisiana Derby (G2) winner has been on a steady ascent and should be forwardly placed again in the Haskell, even while dropping blinkers. He’s a tenacious fighter and will be tough to beat if he repeats his Belmont effort.
#5 Pickin’ Time went 2-for-3 at Monmouth as a juvenile, most notably winning the six-furlong Smoke Glacken S. by a nose. But he’s lost three straight races by wide margins since upsetting Aqueduct’s Nashua S. (G3) last fall, most recently coming home last of seven in the off-the-turf Jersey Derby at Monmouth. He’ll need a form turnaround to factor against tougher company in the Haskell.
#6 Midnight Bourbon enters off a game runner-up effort in the Preakness S. (G1), where he tracked the early tempo before getting run down in the homestretch. But the son of Tiznow finished behind Hot Rod Charlie in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Louisiana Derby (G2), and you can argue 1 1/8 miles is a bit farther than Midnight Bourbon’s best distance.
#7 Basso won his debut at Monmouth Park last summer, but he hasn’t cracked the exacta in four starts since, with his best effort being a third in the Smoke Glacken behind Pickin’ Time. He kicked off his 2021 campaign by finishing sixth behind Antigravity in a one-mile allowance at Monmouth, and while he’s eligible to improve in his second run of the season, stepping up against Grade 1 competition could be a tough task.