Maximum Security makes his second start Saturday since his disqualification in the Kentucky Derby, squaring off against just six rivals in the $1 million Haskell Invitational Stakes. It’s a small but highly talented field in the 1 1/8 mile signature race during the summer season at Monmouth Park on the New Jersey shore in Oceanport.
Jason Servis conditions the son of New Years Day, who will break from the far outside post position seven. Luis Saez rides the 8/5 early favorite. Maximum Security is the first horse ever disqualified from first for interference in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby — this country’s most prestigious Thoroughbred horse race.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has no fear of the favorite. He’s sending his speedy two-time Grade 3 stakes winner Mucho Gusto from California to New Jersey to put the favorite to the test. Regular rider Joe Talamo has the assignment.
King For A Day, last seen in June besting Maximum Security in the Pegasus Stakes, the local Haskell prep race, by just a length, is the projected third betting choice. Others not to be discounted in the filed are Joevia, the third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, and Everfast, the Preakness runner-up. Some long shot spice to the event is being provided by Bethlehem Road and Spun to Run.
“No pressure,” Servis said after the draw. “There are a lot of good trainers and a lot of good horses. Guys keep asking me about speed, speed, speed. We ran against 19 in the Derby. We are not going to be afraid of going against six.”
Three-Year-Old Division Up for Grabs
This year’s three-year-old division lacks a clear leader.
That’s because rank outsider Country House is the official Kentucky winner thanks to Maximum Security’s being remanded to 17th place for interference in the stretch. Trainer Bill Mott says Country House, lackluster when resuming training after the Derby, is unlikely to race again until next year.
War of Will, one of the horses Maximum Security bothered in the Derby, is the Preakness winner. His trainer Mark Casse says he’ll soon be seen in major three-year-old stakes events at Saratoga later this summer. Sir Winston, also a Casse student, is the Belmont Stakes winner. But, he’s now on Casse’s farm in Florida resting after a minor injury. And, don’t overlook Game Winner. That’s Baffert’s 2018 two-year-old champ so impressive last week in the Los Alamitos Derby. Not to be overlooked is Mr. Money, the impressive Indiana Derby hero.
Baffert is the Haskell winning trainer a record eight times. His Mucho Gusto is the 2/1 second choice. The colt is breaking from the fifth starting stall. He sports a stalking style especially well-suited, if good enough, for running down frontrunners, such as Maximum Security.
King For A Day is the 5/2 third choice for the always dangerous trainer Todd Pletcher. John Velazquez has the mount.
The Haskell Invitational is a Monmouth fixture since 1968. It honors former Monmouth Park President and Chairman Amory L. Haskell. Originally an all-age event, in 1981 restrictions were instituted making the race an invitational for only three-year-olds.
Good Magic for trainer Chad Brown is the 2018 Haskell winner. For a complete list of Haskell winners since its inception, click here.
Who Do You Like?
Here’s the full field, trainers, jockeys and projected morning line for the 2019 Haskell:
1. King for a Day, 5/2
Trainer: Todd Pletcher — Jockey: John Velazquez
2. Joevia, 10/1
Trainer: Gregory Sacco — Jockey: Jose Lezcano
3 Spun to Road, 15/1
Trainer: Juan Carlos Guerrero — Jockey: Paco Lopez
4. Bethlehem Road, 20/1
Trainer: Dee Curry — Jockey: Luis Rodriguez Castillo
5. Mucho Gusto, 2/1
Trainer: Bob Baffert — Jockey: Joe Talamo
6. Everfast, 10/1
Trainer: Dale Romans — Jockey: Julien Leparoux
7. Maximum Security, 8/5
Trainer: Jason Servis — Jockey: Luis Saez
Post time is scheduled for 5:47 pm ET. The race will be televised by NBC.