2016 Haskell Invitational Stakes Preview, Entries & Odds

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Dave Bond | OTB Writer

OffTrackBetting.com - Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey will be the scene of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes on Sunday, July 21. Some of the best three year olds in the land will take to Monmouth's dirt track and race 1 1/8 miles searching for the winner's share of the $1 million purse.

A strong field of six will take to the track in the Haskell Invitational - a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win & You're In" race to the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic. It is race 12 on Monmouth Park's stacked Sunday card with a post time pf 5:47 PM. Here is a peek into the past performances of all six entries or this intriguing and lucrative Grade 1 stakes - including the top 3 finishers from the Kentucky Derby.

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2016 Haskell Invitational Stakes Race Preview at Monmouth Park

Nyquist 6-5 - The runaway winner of the Eclipse Award for 2-year-old-male looked unstoppable for trainer Doug O'Neill - his realistic Triple Crown aspirations were derailed last time out with a third behind Exaggerator in the Preakness Stakes May 21 - he sat out the Belmont Stakes. In 2015 Nyquist won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the FrontRunner at Santa Anita and the Del Mar Futurity to go along with the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes. Nyquist had three starts in 2016 before his third last time out and they produced three more very impressive wins - the Kentucky Derby by 1 1/4 lengths, by 1 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita February 15 and the Grade 1 Florida Derby April 2. He has now won eight starts nine handily and is the one to catch again Sunday with Mario Gutierrez aboard the obvious morning line favorite from the rail.

Exaggerator 5-2 - Keith Desormeaux trained colt has five wins, three runner-ups and a third place finish in 12 career starts. He arrives off a disappointing career-worst effort - an eleventh as favorite in the Belmont Stakes June 11 which followed a terrific win - by 3 1/4 lengths in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes May 21. Before that was a good second behind Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, a nice win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby April 9, an OK third in the competitive Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes March 12 and a runner-up finish behind Nyquist in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes February 15. He's also posted a good win with a 103 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 3 $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot November 21, a fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a respectable second in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October and a nice win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in August. Exaggerator had been uber-competitive before last time out and will be out to avenge an ugly outing with Kent Desormeaux in the irons from the outside gate 6 as the morning line second choice.

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American Freedom 3-1 - has won three of four career starts for trainer Bob Baffert. He made a splash last time out with a win in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadow July 1 which followed another win in the minor LARC Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico May 21, an uncharacteristic sixth in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs May 7 and win his debut at Santa Anita in April. American Freedom, outside of one bad outing has been terrific in his young career so far. He tries to make a huge name for himself Sunday with Rafael Bejarano aboard the morning line third choice from post 5.

Gun Runner 4-1 - Steve Asmussen trained colt was tops in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Standings. He had five career starts prior to the Run for the Roses with four wins - two straight ahead of the Derby - in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby March 26 and the Risen Star Stakes February 2- both results at Fair Grounds. He finished a respectable third in the Derby but bounced back last time out and won the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs June 16. His only other blemish was a fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November. Gun Runner now has five wins and a third place finish in six career starts and looks like one of the best three year olds in the land again. Florent Geroux will be in the saddle Sunday from gate 4 as an intriguing fourth choice.

Awesome Slew 15-1 - Edward Plesa trained colt has four career starts with two nice wins and a third place finish. Last time out was an OK third in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park June 19 which followed one of his wins - an Allowance Optional Claiming on that track May 21. Before that was an OK fourth in his only other stakes action - the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga last July and a maiden score at first asking on June, 2015. Awesome Slew will be after his first stakes win from post 3. Paco Lopez rides.

Sunny Ridge 20-1 - Jason Servis trained gelding finished seventh in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga last July - in his second career start. He was last seen running a slightly disappointing fourth in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in March after an impressive win in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes on that track January 30, a second behind Exaggerator in the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot November 21, another second in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park in August and a win in the minor $100,000 Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park September 6. Sunny Ridge has looked good in his first five starts and will be out to avenge a poor outing when he leaves from gate w with Nik Juarez guiding him.

2016 Haskell Invitational Stakes Entries & Odds

Race 12 on Monmouth Park's Sunday card with a Post Time of 5:47 PM.

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Nyquist 6-5 Mario Gutierrez Doug O'Neill
2 Sunny Ridge 20-1 Nik Juarez Jason Servis
3 Awesome Slew 15-1 Paco Lopez Edward Plesa, Jr.
4 Gun Runner 4-1 Florent Geroux Steven Asmussen
5 American Freedom 3-1 Rafael Bejarano Bob Baffert
6 Exaggerator 5-2 Kent Desormeaux J. Desormeaux

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