OCEANPORT, N.J. — Maximum Security galloped on Monday, July 15 as his final prep for next the July 20, $1 million TVG.com Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
The current probables for the race are Maximum Security, Joevia, King for a Day, Mucho Gusto, Everfast, Spun to Run and Bethlehem Road.
The disqualified Kentucky Derby winner schooled in the starting gate at Monmouth Park a day earlier, with trainer Jason Servis saying he was pleased the way his star 3-year-old colt handled things.
“He was good in the gate,” Servis said.
The Florida Derby winner will be looking to make amends for a stunning one-length loss as the 1-20 favorite to fellow Haskell contender King for a Day in the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes on June 16.
The field for the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational currently stands at seven after trainer Miguel Vera withdrew Chilly in Charge from the race, saying the four-week gap was “too close between races for him, especially against this caliber of horses.”
Preakness runnerup Everfast, meanwhile, will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Joevia and King for a Day put in their final serious works on July 13.
Joevia, third in the Belmont Stakes in his most recent start, worked in tandem with Bal Bay Harbor, with both Greg Sacco-trainees hitting the track at Monmouth Park shortly after 9 a.m.
“He went in :58.2 and was out in 11 (seconds) and change,” said Sacco. “He worked super.
“That was what we were looking for. The other horse is a talented horse who just broke his maiden and is going to run on Haskell Day.”
Hector Diaz, Jr. was in the saddle for Joevia’s work. Jose Lezcano has the mount for the Haskell Invitational.
“We know he’s a nice colt. We wanted to go for it today,” said Sacco. “I didn’t want to pussyfoot into the Haskell, He did it well within himself.”
King for a Day, who posted a stunning upset of 1-20 Maximum Security in the June 16 TVG.Com Pegasus Stakes, “went five-eighths in 1:01” under regular rider John Velazquez over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Saturday morning, according to Red Oak Stable racing manager Rick Sacco.
King for a Day is owned by Red Oak Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher.
“He breezed in company with a horse called Just Right, who is getting ready for the Finger Lakes Derby,” said Rick Sacco. “He went the half in :48.33, five-eighths in 1:01.10, was out three-quarters in 1:14 and out in seven-eighths in 1:28.
“It was a maintenance work but he was in the bridle strong and (Velazquez) never moved on him.”
Rick Sacco said Pletcher still has not yet made a decision on when King for a Day will ship from his Saratoga base to Monmouth Park for the race.
The field for the 52nd Haskell Invitational includes the late addition of Parx-based Bethlehem Road, who is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Ohio Derby on June 22.
Dee Curry trains Bethlehem Road, a son of Quality Road-Alydarla by Henny Hughes, who won his first three career starts before the Ohio Derby.
“We were thinking about the West Virginia Derby or the Curlin at Saratoga,” said Curry. “All of the races we were looking at were a mile and an eighth. I’m at Parx. I’m right next door to Monmouth Park. That might be a plus. I don’t have to go that far. I can keep him home until race day. I think that will be a benefit.”
Curry would be the fourth female trainer to have a Haskell starter, joining Nancy Alberts (2nd with Magic Weisner in 2002), Cynthia Reese (4th with Devil’s Honor in 1996) and Linda Rice (6th with Arcadia Falls in 1989).
Bethlehem Road turned in a two-mile maintenance gallop on Saturday morning, Curry said.
“I was disappointed in the Ohio Derby because he got bumped hard four times during that race,” said Curry. “The fourth time he got bumped the jockey (Luis A. Rodriguez Castro) said he just seemed to take a deep breath and say `that’s it. I’m done.’
“He has never been bumped the way he was bumped that race. So we’re going to give him a shot in the Haskell. We have nothing to lose.”
Curry said owners Don Ameche III and Griffin Investments “are excited about being invited to the Haskell and the opportunity it presents”
“I’m a small trainer,” she said. “I don’t get these kinds of opportunities with a horse that fits in this type of race very often. Sometimes you have to take a chance.”
Castro will have the mount aboard Bethlehem Road, Curry said.
Mucho Gusto, who represents trainer Bob Baffert’s hope of extending his record number of Haskell victories to nine, turned in his final work on July 12 at Santa Anita, going six furlongs in 1:12.20. A winner of five of seven career starts, Mucho Gusto is expected to ship to Monmouth Park on Wednesday.
Trainers Vera, Guerrero Battling Race History With Likely Longshots
The TVG.Com Haskell Invitational has generally been a favorite bettor’s haven through the years. Of the 51 runnings of Monmouth Park’s signature race, 25 have been won by favorites – a 49 percent clip.
But there have been exceptions to that, and trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero is counting on the 2019 edition of the $1 million Haskell Invitational being one of those.
He heads into the Grade 1 Haskell knowing exactly what he’s up against: A horse (Maximum Security) that crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby; the Preakness Stakes runnerup (Everfast); the third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes (Joevia); a Bob Baffert-trained horse (Mucho Gusto) that has won five of seven career starts, and a horse that defeated Maximum Security (King for a Day) on June 16.
Guerrero will saddle Spun to Run, an improving colt who has yet to try stakes company.
A Kentucky-bred son of Hard Spun-Yawkey Way by Grand Slam, Spun to Run has only missed the board once in six career starts and is coming off two straight victories. One was a Maiden Special Weight score, the other a 7¼-length romp in a $50,000 optional claimer. Both races were at Parx.
Guerrero thinks his colt will improve dramatically, too, because of two reasons: Successful surgery for a trapped epiglottis and the addition of blinkers for the Haskell. He has enlisted Paco Lopez to ride.
“He came back perfect (from the surgery),” said Guerrero. “I started looking at the races available and this made sense to me. It’s an easy ship from Parx. I know Maximum Security is a good horse but I’m not sure he is the same horse he was. He just got beat, so we know he can lose.
“I look at this as a wide-open race. There are two really nice horses in it but I think my horse is sitting on a very good race.”
Spun to Run, owned by Robert P. Donaldson, will have to shake off some rust since has not raced since March 23. But Guerrero has been pleased with the way his horse has been training.
“I think he is right there with these horses,” he said. “He was good without blinkers. To me, blinkers move him up five lengths – which puts him right there with these horses. And it’s a $1 million race. So why not try?”
This will be Guerrero’s second career attempt to win a Grade 1 stakes. Golden Mystery finished seventh for him in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
The biggest winning longshot in the race’s history is Skip Trial, who pulled off a 35-1 stunner in 1985, returning $73.00 to win. Girvin won at 9-1 in 2017 and Restless Con’s claimed victory in 1990 at 10-1.
See more Equestrian news at www.TAPintoHorses.net
See equestrian events at https://www.tapinto.net/sections/horses/events
Contact TAPinto Horses at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TAPintoHorses/
Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox.