The summer horse racing schedule features several major three-year-old races. The first major three-year-old dirt route of the summer is the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, scheduled for Saturday, July 17 at 5:47 pm Eastern Time. Vegas Betting is the best place for expert 2021 Haskell Stakes Picks and betting advice!
The Haskell is a $1 million horse race going a mile and an eighth on dirt. Though it only drew a field of seven, the runners include both familiar Triple Crown contenders like Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun, and Midnight Bourbon, as well as intriguing new faces like Following Sea. It will be a great race to bet, so keep reading to learn all about the race and the contenders!
These are the official entrants for the 2021 Haskell Stakes, along with post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning line odds:
These morning line odds reflect the racetrack’s best guess for what the tote board will look like when the race begins on Saturday, not necessarily the best Vegas odds. Your best chance to get the best Vegas odds is to sign up for a trusted sportsbook, watch the odds as they fluctuate, and bet the Haskell Stakes online. Then, you can lock in real Vegas odds when you bet your horse.
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To make money handicapping and betting the Haskell, keep a few things in mind. First off, at Monmouth Park, speed horses tend to do very well. When looking for a horse to win the Haskell, it makes sense to lean on horses who have speed, or at least a stalking gear that puts them very close to the front end.
The Haskell Stakes tends to be a very formful race: the winner is typically a well-bet horse. In the last ten years, only two horses at longer than 4/1 odds have won the race: Bayern paid $11.40 in 2014 and Girvin paid $20.40 in 2017. Sometimes longer shots can fill out exactas or trifectas, but they typically do not win.
A typical Haskell winner has won a graded stakes already. In the last ten years, only one Haskell winner had not yet won a graded-level race: Paynter (2012). However, Paynter did already have some form against stakes-caliber horses: he ran second in the Derby Trial (G3), and also ran second beaten only a neck in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Discussion of the Haskell starts with Hot Rod Charlie. He is not only the morning line favorite but fits the profile of a Haskell winner for several other reasons, too. He is a graded stakes winner with good early speed. Staying a mile and an eighth will be no trouble, and he is a game and consistent horse who has shown up with a big race in every start since his maiden win last October.
The one question with Hot Rod Charlie is the removal of blinkers. The Doug O’Neill trainee came around when going blinkers-on for his maiden win, and has worn them ever since. He will have to prove he is the same without them, and that he can show early pace without them.
Midnight Bourbon will be forward as well. Toss the Kentucky Derby, where he got a rough start in a huge field, and he has been on or near the lead in every other start this year. He stayed on better than Medina Spirit after a speed duel when running second in the Preakness, his rider Paco Lopez shines at Monmouth, and his trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race before.
Perhaps the speed of the speed will be Following Sea. All three of his starts have come in sprint races. The last two have been wins, and he has been on or near the lead in both of those winning efforts. Mired on the rail with proven sprint speed, his running style will be a plus at Monmouth.
Though, it won’t be easy. Trainer Todd Pletcher has already won three Haskells, all were with horses who had some graded stakes experience — not like Following Sea, who makes his first stakes attempt in the Haskell. And, Following Sea is by Runhappy out of a Speightstown mare who was a sprinter and has produced sprinter types.
Mandaloun makes his second start since crossing the wire second in the Kentucky Derby. He has proven his Louisiana Derby to be an aberration, after running so well on the First Saturday in May and then rallying to win the Pegasus at Monmouth after a bad start. His natural style shows tactical speed, and the Brad Cox trainee has shown no problems getting nine furlongs.
Among these four major Haskell contenders, Following Sea has too much to prove to be exciting at a short price. Hot Rod Charlie is consistent enough, but the blinkers-off is a question at the shortest price in the field.
Midnight Bourbon gets the slight nod, with good speed from an outside post and a rider who knows more than anyone else in the field about riding Monmouth Park. However, Mandaloun also has strong claims, including tactical speed and a win over the course.
Though longshots usually do not win the Haskell, it’s worth looking at them to see if any can hit the board. In terms of speed, they all need to make a significant step forward in order to threaten the four more proven horses.
Even though he’ll need to move forward, Pickin’ Time has the best claims for an underneath share of any of the longshots in the Haskell. He has an excellent record at Monmouth Park, with two wins and a second in four starts. He also won the Nashua (G2) last year, making him the only longshot with graded experience, much less a win.
Antigravity has won his last two races, and they were both at Monmouth, but they were a maiden special and then an allowance optional claimer. Outside-drawn Basso makes only his second start of the year; though he can improve second off a break and if the track comes up dry, he was a well-beaten sixth behind Antigravity in his return and his only win came in a two-year-old sprint.
Here are your best bets for the 2021 Haskell Stakes!