Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba and unbeaten Jack Christopher headline a field of 8 for Saturday’s $1 million Haskell at Monmouth. Taiba was made the 7-5 morning line favorite at today’s post position draw by track oddsmaker Brad Thomas. Taiba will start from post 2, while Jack Christopher leaves from the 7-hole as the 3-2 second choice in the morning line.
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An eight-horse field reduces the importance of the draw with a fair run to the clubhouse turn at nine furlongs, though pace dynamics from the draw always are in play. Among the horses with early speed, Jack Christopher is drawn furthest out, giving jockey Jose Ortiz some options. How Jack Christopher handles the first turn and pace inside of him will be key to success. Cyberknife, from the rail, and Howling Time, in post 4, dueled on the front last time in the Matt Winn at Churchill. They’ve got Taiba between them, as well as stretch-out sprinter One Time Willard. The tempo should be hot, though speed has typically been golden in the Haskell throughout its history.
Nine-time Haskell winner Bob Baffert recently returned from suspension and looks to add Taiba’s name to a role call that includes American Pharoah, Point Given and most recently Authentic in 2020. Taiba makes his first start since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby in what was only his third career race. I expect the public to give the favoritism lean to Jack Christopher.
Jack Christopher has won all 4 starts around a single turn and will stretch out beyond 1 mile for the first time. The son of Munnings looks to extend his speed and winning streak for trainer Chad Brown, who captured Haskell glory in 2018 with the well-seasoned Good Magic.
The lineup also includes Florida Derby winner White Abarrio, who is 4-for-4 at Gulfstream Park and in search of his first road victory after 3 prior attempts.
Saturday’s 14-race program that begins at noon ET with the Haskell Stakes post time set for 5:45 pm ET as Race 12. For more Haskell Stakes coverage throughout the week, visit news.1st.com and the blog section at Xpressbet.com.
Monmouth Park // Race 12 // Grade 1 Haskell Stakes// 1-1/8 miles
1. Cyberknife // Brad Cox // Florent Geroux // 6-1
2. Taiba // Bob Baffert // Mike Smith // 7-5
3. One Time Willard // John Stephens // Paco Lopez // 30-1
4. Howling Time // Dale Romans // Joe Talamo // 10-1
5. King of Hollywood // Greg Sacco // Nik Juarez // 30-1
6. White Abarrio // Saffie Joseph Jr. // Joel Rosario // 5-1
7. Jack Christopher // Chad Brown // Jose Ortiz // 3-2
8. Benevengo // Jesus Cruz // Isaac Castillo // 20-1