Our in-house handicapper takes a close look at the Grade I Haskell Invitational Stakes which offers up both a 'Win and You're In' place for the Breeders' Cup Classic but also Kentucky Derby 2020 qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale for the top four finishers...
The Morning Line Odds for the 2020 Haskell Invitational Stakes are below:
1. Dr Post - 5/2
2. Authentic - 4/5
3. Jesus’ Team - 15/1
4. Ancient Warrior - 20/1
5. Fame to Famous - 30/1
6. Lebda - 20/1
7. Ny Traffic - 7/2
Only seven 3-year-olds are signed on for the G1, $1 million Haskell led by West Coast invader Authentic (#2). I’m not a huge fan of his, but I didn’t see much reason to pick against him in this spot given the lack of quality opponents. Authentic’s trainer Bob Baffert has a sterling record in this race, and this horse has done enough to suggest he’s ready to give Baffert another victory. After beginning his career with three straight victories, a little air was let out of the balloon last out when Authentic finished second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby behind Honor A. P. He did press a fast pace in that race, however, and was simply no match for the winner, who sat the better trip. He’s not going to catch any breathers in this race with Ancient Warrior (#4), Lebda (#6), and Ny Traffic (#7) all possessing good early speed, but that shouldn’t matter; if he runs his race he’s a very likely winner.
The main challenger to Authentic appears to be Dr Post (#1). I wasn’t a big fan of this horse, either, heading into his most recent start in the G1 Belmont, but I must acknowledge that he did pass that litmus test with a fine second-place finish. That said, he was well beaten by the winner Tiz the Law and finished only 1 ½ lengths ahead of Max Player in third. Max Player would warrant some attention in this race, but he wouldn’t be a major player and I’m skeptical of the overall quality of the Belmont aside from Tiz the Law. Dr Post can win this race if things break his way, but the value isn’t going to be there even if Authentic ends up an odds-on favorite.
The only other horse who seems to have an actual chance of winning the Haskell is the well-traveled Ny Traffic, who is coming off a solid runner-up finish in the G3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs behind Maxfield. In a fairly run race, I don’t think there’s much separating him and Dr Post and he’s only a few lengths slower than Authentic, however Ny Traffic figures to be compromised by a contested pace, as he likes to do his running near the front end. I wouldn’t totally dismiss him because I do believe he has the talent to come out on top, but it’s difficult to envision a winning trip for him unless he proves more tractable.