Brian Nadeau’s Road to the Triple Crown: The Haskell

Monmouth Park: The GI, $1 million Haskell at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 100-50-20-10)

Brian handicaps at Capital OTB and Horseplayer Now, and he’ll offer analysis and selections of Derby points races, hoping to make us all a little money as we head to the Belmont Stakes. Follow him on Twitter here.

Authentic and Drayden Van Dyke. Benoit photo

#1 Dr Post (5-2): Rapidly improving son of Quality Road was a closing second in the June 20 Belmont behind monster Tiz the Law and rates as the “now” horse for Pletcher off that breakthrough run, though not many others did much running that day, if you’re nit-picking. Stalker should be sitting a bit off the pace, which looks honest but hardly fast, so he needs to be close off the far turn to Authentic next door if he wants to reel him in, over a track that typically caters to speed, too. He does get back to two turns here, and that worked when he won the minor Unbridled two-back at Gulfstream Park, and if the chalk can’t see out this trip, or didn’t like the ship across the country, this one is clearly capable of taking advantage; the main danger.

#2 Authentic (4-5): The horse to beat saw his unbeaten streak end at three when he was second to heavyweight Honor A.P. in the GI Santa Anita Derby June 6 and now heads to the Jersey Shore while looking to give Baffert his ninth win in this race. Son of Into Mischief can seemingly do it all, as he won on the lead in Santa Anita’s the GIII Sham and GII San Felipe earlier this year but also sat second in his debut win before powering clear late. Expect Smith to be aggressive and put this one in the race early, and the speed around him is cheap, which means he’ll be getting first run on ‘Dr next door, and that might be all he needs; too tough for these.

#3 Jesus’ Team (15-1): GP invader won a 25k N2L two-back then in his first start for D’Angelo, then parlayed that to a fast second in a one-turn AOC there last time, so he enters better than ever, though this is one seismic acid test as he makes his stakes debut. Son of Tapiture should be close throughout, and the price will be a big one on a runner that fits off that last figure, but class isn’t part of his package; maybe for a small slice.

#4 Ancient Warrior (20-1): Hollendorfer runner could be the speed, or at the very least be on the pace, as he’s never run farther than 6 1/2 furlongs and was pressing a sub :46 half-mile two back when third in an Oaklawn Park AOC. Son of Constitution has the pedigree to get this trip, and he did close last time to be third in a CD AOC, but he’s slow on figures and biting off way too much here; tough to endorse.

#5 Fame to Famous (30-1): The first of two huge longshots has run on the main track only once, and it was a last-of-11 effort in the second division of Fair Grounds’ GII Risen Star in February, which makes this son of Tapit way out of his element for a McAllen barn that is winless on the year; easy toss.

#6 Lebda (20-1): Fellow huge longshot has some speed and dirt form, if nothing else, and this son of Raison d’Etat did win a couple of minor stakes at Laurel this winter, and Gonzalez is sharp, but he was just beaten a pole in the GIII Ohio Derby at Thistledown, and the top pair here are a whole lot tougher than that group; know him early.

#7 Ny Traffic (7-2): The most likely upsetter, should the top pair stumble, enters off a very solid second in Churchill Downs’ GIII Matt Winn, when he was just a length behind Maxfield, who was comfortably in everyone’s Derby top-3 before getting hurt, so there’s little doubt that this dude is a player here. Joseph-trained tactical son of Cross Traffic drew well, too, as he can gauge the pace from the outside and proceed accordingly, a tactic he used when second in the GII Louisiana Derby at FG two back. On the face of it, you’re allowed to wonder if he’s this kind, though it’s also fair to note that this isn’t your dad’s Haskell, which means he’s got as good a shot as any; won’t fault anyone looking his way.

 Selections:

#2 Authentic

#1 Dr Post

#7 Ny Traffic

#3 Jesus’ Team

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