Hot Rod Charlie Leads Saturday's $1 Million TVG.com Haskell Stakes for Automatic Berth into Longines Breeders' Cup Classic Live on NBC
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
OCEANPORT, N.J. (July 15, 2021) — Hot Rod Charlie, a hard-fought second in the Belmont Stakes (G1), headlines a seven-horse field of 3-year-olds set for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile, $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) live on NBC beginning at 5 p.m. ET. The winner of the TVG.com Haskell Stakes gains a “Win and You’re In” berth into the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Haskell Stakes broadcast is the fourth program this year in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – presented by America’s Best Racing” on NBC and NBCSN from some of North America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 38th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, to be held Nov. 5-6 and televised live on NBC and NBCSN. The complete series TV schedule can be accessed here.
The one-hour broadcast also will include the $500,000 United Nations Stakes (G1) on turf.
NBC Sports’ coverage will feature commentary and discussion on-site at Monmouth led by host Britney Eurton, analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who won 15 Breeders’ Cup races including five victories in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, reporter Laffit Pincay, and handicapper/reporter Eddie Olczyk.
Hot Rod Charlie, owned by Boat Racing, Gainesway Stable, Roadrunner Racing, and William Strauss, and trained by Doug O’Neill, is the 6-5 morning line favorite in the 54th TVG.com Haskell Stakes. Winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans in March, Hot Rod Charlie finished third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), losing by just a little more than a length. In the most exciting finish of this year’s Triple Crown races, Hot Rod Charlie battled Essential Quality on even terms through the stretch of the Belmont Stakes in a gallant effort and finished 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Hot Rod Charlie will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post position four.
Two other second-place finishers from the Triple Crown races, Juddmonte’s Mandaloun and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon, should also figure prominently in the Haskell. Mandaloun, the 2-1 second choice, trained by Brad Cox, was forwardly placed in the Kentucky Derby and finished just a half-length behind Medina Spirit. He resurfaced next on June 13 in the 1 1/16-mile TVG.com Pegasus Stakes. After a poor start, Mandaloun rallied to win by a neck. Florent Geroux has the mount on Mandaloun, breaking from post three.
Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, trainer of Midnight Bourbon, has enjoyed great success at Monmouth Park. In 2007, Asmussen saddled Curlin to a third-place finish in the Haskell, but came back to Monmouth in the fall and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, clinching the Horse of the Year title. Two years later, the Asmussen-trained filly Rachel Alexandra captured the Haskell by 6 lengths and was later voted the 2009 Horse of the Year.
On Saturday, Midnight Bourbon, ridden by Paco Lopez from post six, is seeking his second win of the year since he captured the Lecomte Stakes (G3) at the Fair Grounds in January. Following a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Midnight Bourbon delivered a solid performance in the Preakness Stakes (G1), taking the lead in the stretch before being overtaken by Rombauer and losing by 3 ½ lengths.
An intriguing starter now joining the 3-year-old scene is Spendthrift Farm’s Following Sea. Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Following Sea, the 3-1 third choice, broke his maiden in a 6-furlong race at Oaklawn Park on April 10 by 5 ¾ lengths. He started next in a 6 ½-furlong allowance race at Belmont Park on June 3 and rolled to victory by 6 ½ lengths. Joel Rosario will ride Following Sea from post one.
The rest of the field is comprised of locally-based runners Antigravity (David Cohen, post two); Pickin Time (Nik Juarez, post five), and Basso (Isaac Castillo, post seven).
The 1 3/8-mile United Nations Stakes, which drew 10 starters, is led by the Cox-trained 7-year-old Arklow, who finished fourth in last year’s race. Owned by Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and the Estate of Peter Coneway, Arklow comes into this year’s renewal off a win in the Louisville Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on May 15. Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Michael J. Caruso’s Tribhuvan (FR), trained by Chad Brown, has made two starts this year at Belmont Park. He won the Fort Marcy Stakes (G2) on May 1 and finished second in the Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes (G1) on June 5.
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ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP
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The 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held on November 5-6 at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California. The event will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media.
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