The 2020 Haskell Invitational stakes stands as one of the most important thoroughbred races in the season for American three-year-olds. Learn about the field in this 2020 Haskell Invitational betting preview.
The 2020 Haskell Invitational will draw the eyes of all horse racing fans to Monmouth Park in New Jersey this weekend. On Saturday, seven of the best three-year-old horses in the nation will be looking to snag the winner’s share of the $1 million purse. This year’s winner will be able to set its sights on the Kentucky Derby later this year.
In most years, the horse racing schedule in America follows a similar pattern. The Triple Crown races come up in the spring to capture everyone’s attention. As the summer continues, races like the Haskell Invitational and the Travers Stakes, while not Triple Crown events, act as determiners of whether those Triple Crown horses have some staying power.
The Triple Crown that usually takes place first (the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness stakes) have been shuffled to the final third of the year.
Meanwhile, the Belmont Stakes, usually the last Triple Crown event, is already in the books, won in impressive fashion by Tiz The Law.
As a result, these mid-summer three-year-old races now serve a bit of a different purpose. Instead of being post-Triple Crown events, they are now essentially prep races for both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. That means a lot more attention will be placed on them by casual fans than usual.
Of course, horse racing fans have always known that the Haskell Invitational is a big deal. The connection to the Derby adds to it. This year, the winner of the race will earn enough qualifying points to ensure a spot in the Derby.
Because of that twist, there is another major difference to the 2020 Haskell Invitational, in that the race technically isn’t invite-only this year. Anyone owner with a three-year-old who wanted to pony up the stakes fee could enter. This change prevented horses from being shut out of a race they might need to make the Triple Crown races down the road.
As for the race itself, this one shapes up interestingly, at least according to the oddsmakers. There are only seven horses in the field. Three of those are well-regarded on the morning line, but the other four are double-digit long shots.
That could present some exciting opportunities for bettors looking for value. You could try the top choices in different combinations of exotic wagers to win a lot for a little. Or you could take a chance on one of the bombers to sneak into the mix amidst the more highly-regarded horses.
In any case, we’re here to help with this 2020 Haskell Invitational betting preview. We’ll take a look at seven horses in the field, detailing their strengths and weaknesses. And we’ll give our picks for who we think is going to come out on top.
2020 Haskell Invitational Details
Where: Monmouth Park in New Jersey
When: Saturday, July 18, 2020, post time approximately 5:45 PM Eastern Time
Who: Three-year-old horses
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Top Contenders for the Haskell Invitational 2020
#1 Dr Post (Joe Bravo, Todd Pletcher) 5-2
Many thought it was a tough ask for this one to step up into the Belmont without ever having faced graded stakes competition. Yet step up is what he did, finishing second only behind much-the best Tiz The Law. Now he comes in brimming with confidence against this relatively small field.
The fact that he had won his previous two proves that he’s not just a near-miss type. Many will be asking is if his ceiling is as high as the favorite, Authentic, but you could also say that Dr Post is the steadier option of the two. One other concern will be if the early pace is fast enough to set up for his closing style.
#2 Authentic (Mike Smith, Bob Baffert) 4-5
The morning line odds speaks to the reputation of Baffert, an eight-time winner in the Haskell.
But does it speak to what we’ve seen so far of Authentic?
Even with three wins in four starts, each one has been increasingly shaky as he has stretched out, and his first loss came when he tried this 1 1/8-mile jaunt for the first time.
Most of Baffert’s Triple Crown eggs are now in this basket following the misfortunes that have befallen some of his other hopefuls. As a result, there’s a case to be made that maybe Authentic won’t be pushed that hard in this one with other big battles. There are more question marks than you would like to see from an odds-on horse.
#3 Jesus Team’ (Nik Juarez, Francisco D’Angelo) 15-1
As we said earlier, this is not an invitational event this year. Hence, a horse like Jesus’ Team, who never would have graced a Haskell Invitational field in the past, gets to take his shot. It’s hard to imagine him enjoying any thrills beyond hearing the cheering crowds during the post parade.
Jesus’ Team was up for a $25,000 claiming price earlier this year, which doesn’t suggest Grade 1 class in any way. He’s actually never won a race above the claiming ranks. Most likely, he’ll flash a bit early but then fade well back at the end.
#4 Ancient Warrior (Trevor McCarthy, Jerry Hollendorfer) 20-1
For whatever reason, there isn’t much middle ground in the 2020 Haskell Invitational field. Here is another horse that seems to be miles away from where he needs to be to mix in with the top three choices. Yet all he would need to have a chance to hit the board would be for one of the big guys to falter.
Hollendorfer is a respected trainer and Ancient Warrior does have good getaway speed. But whether he has the stuff to last 1 1/8 on the front end is another story. And that doesn’t even take into account all he seems to be giving up to the top trio in terms of overall talent.
#5 Fame To Famous (Jose Ferrer, John McAllen) 30-1
Not that he has much to chance to win, but Fame To Famous probably doesn’t deserve to be the longest shot on the board in this one. For one, he has some stakes competition in his rearview. And he also seems capable of making the distance much better than some of the others in here.
All that said, he only career race on a dirt surface resulted in an 11th-place finish. It’s more likely for a horse to overcome a surface bias than a distance bias, however. If you really want to spice up your superfecta payouts, this is the place you should be looking for.
#6 Lebda (Carlos Gonzalez, Alex Cintron) 20-1
Whenever this colt has moved into graded stakes competition, problems have followed. He has only hit the board in one of three races when he has stepped up into those races. In addition, he scuffled in his last start to a sixth-place finish, not inspiring confidence in his ability to get to 1 1/8 miles with style.
On the bright side, he does have a couple of ungraded stakes wins at Laurel Park in Maryland. He might not be as overmatched as some of the other long shots in here. But, then again, that’s a pretty low bar for him to have to clear.
#7 NY Traffic (Paco Lopez, Saffie Joseph) 7-2
Here you have a horse who gives consistently good efforts but has yet to prove that he can beat elite horses like the two on the inside of this field. In his last three races, all graded stakes, he has been on the board. But he also hasn’t won at any level higher than an allowance.
NY Traffic should easily outclass the four longer shots here. He makes for an outstanding place bet, as it’s easy to see a scenario where Authentic and Dr. Post duel and only one comes outstanding. But it’s hard to project this one as a winner based on the near misses in the history books.
Haskell Invitional Betting Picks
Right off the bat, you can safely throw out horses #3 through #6 in the post position in terms of the top two in the order of finish. Look out for Fame To Famous in the third spot, though, benefitting if the top choices come up empty. As we mentioned, NY Traffic seems like an excellent pick for second.
As for the win? This could be the race where Authentic cements his status as a real threat to the supremacy of Tiz The Law. Consider 2-7-5-1 in your superfecta ticket at betting sites with odds on the Haskell Invitational, with Authentic winning the 2020 Haskell Invitational.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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