Pre-race favorite Maximum Security won the Haskell Invitational by a length over Mucho Gusto on Saturday at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey:
Maximum Security earned $600,000 of the $1 million Haskell purse for the victory, which only became official after an inquiry into actions between the victor and King for a Day at the three-eighths pole was denied.
The Haskell Invitational, an invite-only Grade I race for three-year-olds, is a key event in the run-up to the Breeders' Cup, which will be held at Santa Anita Park in early November.
Haskell is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series in which winners automatically qualify to Breeders' Cup World Championship races:
Here's a look at how the six-horse field raced on the 1⅛-mile dirt track, including order of finish, betting payouts, closing odds and a quick recap and reaction.
Haskell Invitational Finish: Horse; Jockey; Trainer
1. Maximum Security; Luis Saez; Jason Servis
2. Mucho Gusto; Joseph Talamo; Bob Baffert
3. Spun to Run; Paco Lopez; Juan Carlos Guerrero
4. Everfast; Julien R. Leparoux; Dale L. Romans
5. King for a Day; John R. Velazquez; Todd A. Pletcher
6. Bethlehem Road; Luis A. Rodriguez Castro; Dee Curry
Win: $3.60, $2.60, $1.20
Place: $3.40, $2.80
$1 Superfecta: $185.70
$2 Exacta: $12.00
Source: Daily Racing Forum
Recap and Reaction
The race received a few pieces of unfortunate news beforehand.
First, Joevia was scratched for unknown reasons. Monmouth Park race caller Frank Mirahmadi announced the decision, per Horse Racing Nation.
Second, the oppressive Northeast heat forced a multihour delay to 8:05 p.m. ET.
Once the horses started, however, Maximum Security shared the front of the pack during the entire race with every horse aside from Everfast, who fell back.
Maximum Security eventually gained control of the inside rail down the stretch and held off a hard charge from Mucho Gusto for the win.
However, everyone got flashbacks to the Kentucky Derby when Maximum Security received yet another inquiry, this time against King for a Day.
In May, the previously undefeated horse was disqualified after Kentucky Derby stewards deemed he impeded the progress or interfered with three horses by shifting positions mid-race, per the Associated Press (h/t USA Today).
The TVG.com team broke down the action this time around:
After brief deliberation, the order of finish stayed the same. TVG.com caught up with the Maximum Security team and King for a Day jockey John Velazquez afterward for their takes:
Maximum Security avenged a significant upset to King for a Day at the Pegasus Stakes in June. Despite being a 1-20 favorite to start, per Bob Ehalt of Bloodhorse, he fell to King for a Day by one length.
Maximum Security has another Grade I win now, however, having taken down the Florida Derby in March.