Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon, and Hot Rod Charlie, the respective second-place finishers in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Belmont S. (G1), highlight a nice edition of Saturday’s $1 million Haskell S. (G1) at Monmouth Park.
Seven three-year-olds are entered for the 1 1/8-mile race, which serves as a “Win & You’re In” for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar, and Hot Rod Charlie has been installed as the 6-5 morning line favorite.
After finishing a close third at Churchill Downs, Hot Rod Charlie kept moving forward for Doug O’Neill with an outstanding runner-up effort to Elusive Quality in the June 5 Belmont, winding up 11 1/4 lengths clear of Preakness winner Rombauer in third. Hot Rod Charlie registered a field-best 110 Brisnet Speed rating, and Flavien Prat will be back up on the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner.
After running big at 26-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun came back from a five-week freshening to post a game score in the recent Pegasus S. at Monmouth. By Into Mischief, the Grade 2-winning colt is eligible to show more Saturday for Brad Cox, and Florent Geroux will be in to ride the early 2-1 second choice.
Midnight Bourbon, 9-2 on the morning line, will make his first appearance since a good second in the Preakness. Winner of the Lecomte (G3) in his seasonal opener, the Tiznow colt has placed in four of his last five starts for Steve Asmussen, the exception being a sixth in the Kentucky Derby in which he dropped uncharacteristically far off the early pace, and Midnight Bourbon figures to be forwardly-placed in the Haskell with new jockey Paco Lopez.
Following Sea, who romped by a 6 1/2-length margin when making his first start for Todd Pletcher in a June 3 entry-level allowance at Belmont Park, will make his stakes and two-turn debut. A Spendthrift Farm homebred son of Runhappy, the bay colt netted an eye-catching 108 Speed rating while making his third start last out, and Following Sea is listed as the 3-1 third choice on the morning line. Joel Rosario retains the mount on the intriguing sophomore.
Probable longshots Antigravity, Basso, and Pickup Time complete the field.