The Haskell on Saturday at Monmouth turned out to be an interesting and competitive race. Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie, and Midnight Bourbon are all in there, and I think all three get beat.
People like to throw the word freak around with lightly raced fast horses. I almost never agree and usually mock them. I am not ready to call Following Sea a freak yet, but I think he has these at a big disadvantage on Saturday.
This lightly raced colt is by Runhappy. Despite this, Todd Pletcher stretches him out in a race like the Haskell off a six-and-a-half-furlong non-winner of one sprint. That, in my view, is a huge vote of confidence in a horse who is obviously very fast and talented.
From the rail, he figures to go right to the lead under Joel Rosario, who although known as a strong come from behind finisher, rides the front end as good as anyone. The whip or crop restrictions help him further, and you can’t beat what you can’t catch, and the other riders will be chasing and limited on how much urging and encouragement they can provide.
This is a talented and quality field, and those other horses are not slow by any means, but out of those sprints, I don’t see them catching Following Sea. If he does win, I won’t be surprised to see him in the Travers. A tall order, but I believe it is possible if not likely.
I’ll look at the rest of the field.
Antigravity likes the track but steps up into the deep waters here. I don’t think he is as good as these at this point.
Mandaloun is obviously a threat. Brad Cox is deadly, and this colt won a nice prep for this over the track. That said it was not a wow performance, and I think he will need one to win here. He will take a lot of the money and be one of the ones chasing Following Sea home.
Hot Rod Charlie has earned respect as one of the top three-year-olds and was pretty good at two also. He has a perfect style, and Prat is on fire in the big races. He is honest, and I think he is likely to be the second-place finisher assuming I am right about the winner.
Pickin Time looks over his head.
Midnight Bourbon is fresh and fits. I don’t think he gets the best set up in here as he will be chasing a faster horse. If Following Sea comes back and humbles me and horses humble everyone, then this guy may be in a good spot. I don’t see it playing that way, and I think Charlie is better on the square anyway.
Basso looks like there were several better spots to run him than in here. He gets a participation trophy at best.
I am in on Following Sea. I think he is a single and a play. I am hoping he goes off longer than the 3-1 morning line as that is a short price for a horse being asked what they are asking of him. That said, you gotta back your opinion, and I think he is legit.