The Haskell and The Coaching Club American Oaks
The three-year old championship is very much up for grabs at this point. We had three different horses win all three of The Triple Crown races. One of them, Rich Strike is considered by many, me included, to be the beneficiary of a perfect storm in The Kentucky Derby. He’ll have to prove he belongs at the head of the class. Another, Mo Donegal is through for the remainder of the year. Early Point is looking towards The Travers probably by way of The Jim Dandy. The rest of the three-year olds will be sorting themselves out and that sorting process will begin Saturday at Monmouth Park in an exciting renewal of The Haskell.
Jack Christopher has been nothing short of a star going 4 for 4 with all being runaway victories. He has smoked every field he has faced. He has speed and has handled a one turn mile twice including a Grade 1 win in The Champagne. Since returning this year he galloped in The Pat Day Mile on Kentucky Derby Day and again in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day. He has been pointed to this race by Chad Brown who is as good as any at pointing a horse to a race and knowing which ones to point which horses to.
Bob Baffert is back calling the shots on Taiba. This is another potential star who was sort of rushed into The Kentucky Derby after winning The Santa Anita Derby in just his second start. He did not fire in The Derby but we have seen many a good horse not show up for one reason or another on The First Saturday in May and come back as good or better than ever. Taiba is fast and fresh.
Brad Cox takes his shot at the big two with Cyberknife. At first glance Cyberknife looks like he might just be a cut below the top two and at this point he may be. On Saturday he is in a chess match as much as a horserace and he looks to be in position to get a very favorable trip and pace to run at with Florent Geroux piloting.
The chess match is really between Jose Ortiz on Jack Christopher and Mike Smith on Taiba. Neither can let the other dictate the pace alone and still has their best shot to win. Neither can afford to get caught in a speed duel with another quality horse and once again still have their best shot to win. Therefore, the race is a chess match in my opinion.
There is some other speed in the race on paper and perhaps both Mike and Jose wait and see who else goes and if they want to take the cat bird seat. I don’t think any of the other speed is serious enough to win or make all that much of an impact on this race. I see it coming down to Mike and Jose, with Geroux just waiting and watching and riding his race. White Abarrio gets a rider switch to Joel Rosario who can finish with the best of them, but I don’t think he has enough horse here.
This is a race that will be fun to watch even if you don’t bet it. That said we love to play these big races and most of us will.
All things being equal I think Jack Christopher just might be too sharp right now to beat in this spot. I respect Taiba and Bob Baffert, and Mike Smith knows his way around big races, but Jack Christopher has been flat out fast, and I think Jose will be aggressive and put him in front and say come catch me. If he does, I say they won’t.
The Coaching Club American Oaks drew a relatively short field of 5. That small field has Nest and Secret Oath so what it lacks in quantity it has in quality.
Secret Oath beat Nest in The Kentucky Oaks. I thought Secret Oath had the better trip that day even though she made a wide move. Nest had an even worse trip in The Belmont Stakes against the boys and still ran a very good second. It looks like these two will be fighting it out down the lane but there is an intriguing presence in here. Society looks like she is not in the league of the two big names in here. She is however 3 for 3 and she is also the only speed and front runner in this small field. Lone speed is always dangerous. She is a Gun Runner trained by Steve Asmussen. She’s game and has Tyler Gaffalione. There are worse situations to take a shot at a price. This is a game and improving filly who may get inhaled when the real running starts, but then again, she may not. I think I will take a shot on her.
Enjoy the races and for more at Saratoga watch Saratoga Today every Saturday on Past The Wire TV. Last week Dawn Lupul loved Mo Strike. This week she may love another winner. Tune in and find out!