The Haskell Stakes is one of the biggest races that takes place in America between the last leg of the Triple Crown series, and the Breeders’ Cup later in the year. This is a Grade 1 race, which is run over a distance of 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Connections enter this race, with the hope of winning their share of the $1 million purse.
This race has been graced by some iconic horses during its history, which includes ten previous winners of the Eclipse Award for champion three-year-old. The most recent winner of the Haskell to win that accolade was American Pharoah in 2015. But, which horses could be set to join that illustrious group this year?
There are a lot of question marks whether Medina Spirit will be able to enter the Haskell Stakes later in the year, as Bob Baffert is facing up to the reality of the failed drug test following the Kentucky Derby.
Both samples have since come back positive, and Churchill Downs have banned Baffert from making any entries at the track. Other tracks may follow suit and decide to ban Baffert from making entries, but only time will tell whether that happens.
Should Medina Spirit be able to enter, then he has strong claims to win this race. He won the Kentucky Derby, before finishing a respectable third in the Preakness Stakes a month later. He was forced to bypass the Belmont Stakes after the NYRA banned Baffert from entering any horses.
Midnight Bourbon also looks set to target the Haskell Stakes in July, as the Steven Asmussen-trained horse looks to add further graded success to the G3 Lecomte Stakes that he won in the middle of January.
He has come close to adding more glory on a number of occasions since that run, as he finished second in both the Preakness Stakes and G2 Louisiana Derby.
Midnight Bourbon also travelled strongly throughout the Kentucky Derby, but couldn’t finish any closer than sixth on that occasion. The distance will certainly suit Midnight Bourbon in the Haskell Stakes, and he will be a selection that many gamblers will be willing to give another chance.
Hot Rod Charlie
Hot Rod Charlie’s long wait for a Grade 1 winner continued at Belmont Park, as he could only finish second behind Essential Quality in the Belmont Stakes. He remains a horse with a lot of fans, and many predict that the three-year-old will finally get his Grade 1 before the end of the calendar year.
That victory could come in the Haskell Stakes, as he will not need to carry the weight penalty that winners of Grade 1 and Triple Crown events will have to. Doug O’Neill trains this three-year-old, and his form throughout his career has been solid.
He has finished in the top three in each of his last six runs, which includes a second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a third in the Kentucky Derby.
He was unfortunate in the Derby, as he finished a length behind Medina Spirit, despite looking strong in the final stretch. Hot Rod Charlie just didn’t have the pace to compete in the end in the Belmont Stakes, as he finished a length and a quarter behind the winner.
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Nonetheless, all the trends are in his favour for the Haskell, and if he heads there, he could be the leading contender to claim that much-needed Grade 1 success.