The Grade I Haskell is the first big race for three-year-olds following the Triple Crown and having had three different winners across the Derby, Preakness and Belmont, the race to be the top horse in the division will heat up here and at the Travers next month. The favourite however is a horse we didn’t see at Churchill Downs, Pimlico or Belmont Park…
Any follower of US Horse Racing will know all about Bob Baffert and the trainer is now fully free to race his horses across all tracks following the end of of his two-year suspension at Churchill Downs.
Having won the Haskell no fewer than nine times, it is no surprise to see him send his top three-year-old as Arabian Knight makes the trek cross-country in an attempt to fully announce himself to the watching public. An extremely impressive debut on the Breeders’ Cup undercard was backed up with a pretty decent win in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park back in January. The six-month layoff is a concern but if you are handicapping just looking for the fastest horse in the field, he’s your pick.
Kentucky Derby winner Mage is also set to take to the track but his connections are calling this a prep race for the Travers. His work since finishing third in the Preakness has been average at best so plenty of questions to answer and doesn’t feel like the value play out of the big three.
The third of the top choices in the betting is Tapit Trice, a horse I thought looked the best on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The three-year-old out of the stable of Todd Pletcher could only finish seventh in the Run for the Roses and third in the Belmont. He’s certainly got plenty of potential and I wouldn’t put it past him to win one of the big Grade I races left on the calendar this year.
However, having said that if you want to back the best horse in the race straight up to win then it has to be Arabian Knight. If it wasn’t for Baffert’s Churchill Downs ban, I’d be amazed if he didn’t go into the big race as the top choice in the betting. On the two occasions we’ve seen him, he’s been nothing short of mighty impressive and we all know this trainer knows how to get his horses ready for top quality races.
If you like taking bigger odds hoping for a place, Betfred are paying out three places in this eight horse field and since Salute the Stars has moved to Brad Cox’s yard, he’s taken big strides forward. I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes off as the sixth choice in the betting but he’s my top pick behind the big three to run a good race and hit the board.