Who can be mentioned in same breath as Onion?

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Ed DeRosa

August 2nd, 2015

Even the most hardened, degenerate, beat-the-chalk horseplayer in me acknowledges that Triple Crown champion American Pharoah is by far the most likely winner of today’s $1.75-million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Even couching his chances as being “the most likely winner” does not do justice to how he towers over this field on paper. Of course, they don’t run the races on paper, and Triple Crown winners do lose regardless of price, or fame, or acclaim.

Can American Pharoah lose? Sure, it could happen. Will I bet on that outcome? Not really.

Ideally, we’ll catch the right prices around American Pharoah in multi-race bets and maybe turn 1-to-10 at even money. If we really get lucky and are staring down a decent payoff keyed off American Pharoah then you can mess around with trying to beat him in saver exactas.

I wrote following Saturday’s stakes about how the horses American Pharoah has defeated are doing well (e.g. Frosted, Madefromlucky, and Texas Red), and it does not appear as if any other horses from this crop are capable of jumping up to the level of previous Grade 1 winners.

So for that reason, it’s tough to see horses like Mr. Jordan, Top Clearance, or Dontbetwithbruno as even quasi-legitimate upset threats.

I’m not including Competitive Edge in that list because he was under Preakness Stakes consideration, and several handicappers I respect—like Danny Zucker of—thought he’d have had a big chance in that race.

That leaves Upstart and Keen Ice in earnest, and I lean toward Keen Ice as the key because Upstart will take more money, and even though he is faster at his best, the price will be better on Keen Ice, who has been pointing toward this race. I would be Keen Ice at 20-to-1.

But even if I make that bet, I’d expect to lose.