The biggest day of racing on the Jersey Shore this summer is Saturday with a field of eight lining up in the $1 million Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park.
The Bob Baffert trained Taiba looks to rebound off a poor showing in the Kentucky Derby (G1) while under the care of trainer Tim Yakteem where the colt checked in a well beaten 12th.
After serving a 90-day suspension Baffert seeks his 10 victory in the Haskell. From 2010 to 2015 he won it five times and most recently saddled Authentic to a victory in the race in 2020.
In his first start against winners, Taiba won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in April. He broke his maiden in his debut back in March with a career best 103 Beyer Speed Figure.
“We know he’s lightly raced but I feel he’s doing really well,” Baffert said. “I wanted to watch him train. I wasn’t really convinced he was going to the Haskell. He breezed really well. He’s a big, strong heavy horse who won’t light it up in the mornings, but I was surprised what he did first out (to breeze). I let him dictate if he was ready or not. I wasn’t going to throw him into the deep end of the pool.”
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The colt faces a talented group including the Chad Brown trained Jack Christopher (3-2) who is coming in off a 10-length romp in the Woody Stephens (G1) going seven furlongs at Belmont Park.
The colt is undefeated in four starts and will go around two turns for the first time in his career.
Brad Cox sends out Cyberknife (6-1) who won the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs by a hard fought nose. He bounced back off a disappointing 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby two back.
White Abbario (5-1) was the runner up in the Ohio Derby (G3) last out after he checked in 16th in the Run for the Roses. The Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee won the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park back in April.
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Completing the field are One Time Willard (30-1), Howling Time (10-1), King of Hollywood (30-1) and Benevengo (20-1).
There are five supporting stakes on the 14-race Haskell card including $600,000 United Nations (G1) and the $400,000 Molly Pitcher (G3).
The value of the race seems to be White Abbario who tracked the early pace and could not get to tawny Point in deep stretch in a runner up finish in the Ohio Derby. The third-place finisher in that race was Classic Causeway, who came back to win the Belmont Derby (G1) in his next outing. The fourth-place finisher Barese was also a next out winner, taking the state bred New York Derby at Finger L:akes on July 19. It appears this guy is going to get a solid pace in front of him and should be sitting a good trip from just off the pace under Joel Rosario.
Trainer Chad Brown has won this race four times including last year with Tribhuvan, who took the field gate to wire last July and seeks to do the same today. The six-year-old is the 5-2 morning line favorite and is coming off a career top speed figure winning the Manhattan (G1) at 1 ¼ miles.
His stablemate Adhamo (3-1) is 0 for 3 since arriving in the U.S. and landing with Brown. The colt ran second in the Manhattan but his stablemate got things fairly easy up front. He rallied to finish second and has a good shot of turning the tables here with the extra furlong and likely a sharp early pace to run at.