News & Barn notes

Haskell Undercard Loaded With Graded Stakes

July 28, 2017

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Although the 50th edition of the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational is the headline for Sunday and the entire Monmouth Park meet, the undercard is loaded with multiple graded stakes as well as some of the top older horses in the country.

            The first of the graded stakes to be run Sunday will be the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup headlined by multiple graded stakes winner Sharp Azteca for Monmouth Park’s leading trainer Jorge Navarro who leads a short, but competitive field. The son of Freud comes out of a second place finish in the Grade 1 Met Mile on the Belmont Stakes undercard. He took last year’s Grade 3 Pat Day Mile and this year’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

            He isn’t the only multiple graded stakes winner in the field. Scuba scored in the Grade 2 Marathon on the Breeders’ Cup undercard and the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup at Parx last year.

            Miss Temple City will make her first start in the US in 2017 in the Grade 3 $100,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes, going a mile and an eighth on the grass. The 5-year-old daughter by Temple City won three Grade 1’s last year including two against the boys in the Makers 46 Mile and the Shadwell Turf Mile, both at Keeneland. She went across the pond to take on the boys, finishing 13th in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. She has been placed as the 4/5 morning line favorite in the field of seven fillies and mares.

            The Grade 3 Molly Pitcher Stakes is headlined by Shug McGaughey’s Carrumba, winner of the Grade 3 Top Flight Handicap last year at Aqueduct and multiple graded stakes placed this year.

            The top three from the local prep for the Molly Pitcher, the Lady’s Secret Stakes, return to battle it out again as Money’soncharlotte, for Kelly Breen, will look to get the best of Pleasant Mine and Eskenformoney once again on Sunday.

            The final of the graded stakes slated for the undercard is the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes, going a mile and an eighth on the turf. Chad Brown’s Money Multiplier is set as the morning line favorite as he returns to the Jersey Shore for the first time since finishing second in the Grade 1 United Nations last year behind World Approval.

            He will have to deal with the full brother of Haskell runner Irish War Cry, Irish Strait, who is coming off of his first graded stakes win in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth earlier this year.

            They’ll both have to catch Smooth Daddy, who took the field wire-to-wire last time out, capturing the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes at Belmont Park.

            The race order for these graded stakes will be: Monmouth Cup, Race 3; Monmouth Stakes, Race 7; Molly Pitcher, Race 10; Matchmaker, Race 11; and, the Haskell Invitational running as race 12.

            Gates open early Sunday at 10 a.m. with first post slated for 12 noon.