On Sunday at Monmouth Park, the featured race is the $300,000 United Nations Stakes. Scheduled to be run at a mile and three-eighths on the turf, the Grade 1 event has drawn a field of ten colts and geldings.
Haskell Invitational Picks for Monmouth Sunday
The field is set for the $1 million Haskell, where Nyquist will be trying to re-stake his claim as the top three-year-old in the country.
As the morning line favorite at 6-5, it's perhaps unfair to think that Nyquist comes into the Haskell with something to prove and everything to lose. If he wins, it will re-affirm that he's the best of his crop. If he doesn't, his undefeated record through to the Preakness will lose some it's luster. But even against some solid competition at Monmouth at Sunday, he should win.
It's a race where jockey Mario Gutierrez should be able to sit where he wants, perhaps just off of Gun Runner (4-1) and whoever else wants the early lead, just as he did in the Derby. From there, he simply has the most natural speed of any in the race when they kick for home. If Gutierrez just allows Nyquist to display his talent, they will win. Gun Runner, meanwhile, is a very good and very game horse, but the race may play out as an exact copy of the Derby, where he showed he could run with Nyquist through the first mile, but then could not keep up.
As for Exaggerator (5-2), he didn't win the Preakness by a fluke, but he did enjoy the perfect set-up, an off-track that he loved, and a clear rail trip all the way around. With both at their best, over a fast track, he's finished behind Nyquist four times. The fact that it was a late decision by his connections to even send him to the Haskell when the original target was Saturday's Jim Dandy Stakes, after training poorly over the Saratoga dirt, could also be considered. Like Gun Runner he's a very good horse, just not Nyquist good.
OTB New Jersey Picks
1) #1 Nyquist
2) #4 Gun Runner
3) #6 Exaggerator
4) #5 American Freedom
On Sunday at Monmouth Park, the featured race is the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes, a key prep race for the Haskell Invitational (G1). The Grade 3 event will be contested at a mile and a sixteenth and has drawn a field of seven three-year-olds.
With five grade 1 races and a grade 2, the undercard for the June 11 Belmont stakes could be the best single day of racing on the calendar outside of the Breeders’ Cup.
The preparations are underway for the third jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes (G1). Horses have begun to arrive at Belmont Park for the mile and a half contest which is scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 11.