Florida-bred Awesome Strong Draws Post 2
BY BROCK SHERIDAN
The field is set for the Grade 1 Haskell to be run Saturday at Monmouth Park with the $1 million event marking the return of Grade 1 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve-winner Mage. A field of eight 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for the mile-and-one-eighth Haskell with Mage drawing post four for trainer Gustavo Delgado and the ownership team of OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH.
While the Derby winner headlines this year’s Haskell, Mage is labeled as the co-second choice on the morning line at 3-1 and will break from post four. The Bob Baffert-trained Arabian Knight is the program favorite at 5-2 while Tapit Trice, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, is also 3-1 on the morning line.
Mage will be making his first start since finishing third behind winner National Treasure in the Grade 1 Preakness on May 20 at Pimlico.
“Our summer goal since the Preakness was run, for us personally, has always been the Travers [at Saratoga on Aug. 26],” Restrepo said of Mage. “We were thinking about the best way to get to the Travers. The Haskell falls five weeks out and gives us an opportunity to come back in a strong race against a solid field – and against some of the best 3-year-olds in the country.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to get him back in action.”
Mage, unraced as a 2-year-old, will be making his fourth straight start in Grade 1 company in the Haskell.
“He had a great break after the Preakness – 17 days of no saddle and no racetrack,” Restrepo said. “The break was good for him.
“We’ve only had three works since then. The weather played a role in that. But it’s time to get the train started again. Three works for this race is not ideal but we’ve got to get the ball rolling.”
“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to race in historically famous races with a lot of tradition and to be part of a race at a beautiful setting like Monmouth Park,” he said.
Mage is by Good Magic out of Puca, by Big Brown and he has won two of five career starts with one second and one third while banking $2,288,700.
Javier Castellano has the mount on Mage.
While Arabian Knight will be making his first start since winning the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park in January and only the second start of his career, he was likely made the morning line favorite because of Baffert’s success in the Haskell.
Baffert has won the race nine times starting with Point Given in 2001. His other winners include War Emblem (2002), Roman Ruler (2205), Lookin At Lucky (2010), Florida-bred Coil (2011), Paynter (2012), Bayern (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Authentic (2020).
Arabian Knight is by Uncle Mo out of Borealis Night, by Astrology and he has earned $544,275 in his two starts.
Owner Amr Zedan purchased Arabian Knight for $2.3 million out of the Top Line Sales consignment at the 2022 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale.
Arabian Knight has post eight and will be ridden by John Velazquez.
Whisper Hill Farm LLC and Antony Beck’s Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice will be making his first start since finishing third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets won by Arcangelo.
The son of Tapit out of Danzatrice, by Dunkirk won the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 8 before finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby.
Tapit Trice sports a career ledger of four wins with two thirds in seven starts with earnings of $1,033,650.
He has post five and Luis Saez will ride.
Florida-bred Awesome Strong – Lauren King Photo
Florida-bred Awesome Strong will be trying for the upset in the Haskell as he is listed at 30-1 on the morning line.
Trained by Jorge Delgado for CSLR Racing Partners, Awesome Strong was the 2022 FTBOA Florida-bred champion 2-year-old male based on his sweep of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series last year.
He won the $100,000 Florida Sire Stakes Dr. Fager by four-and-three-quarter lengths going six furlongs in August, then the $200,000 Florida Sire Stakes Affirmed over seven furlongs by three lengths in September. He finished his 2-year-old season with a length-and-a-half victory in the $400,000 Florida Sire Stakes In Reality going a mile-and-a-sixteenth in October.
The son of Ocala Stud stallion Awesome Slew has one start this year, having finished fifth in a third level, $50,000 optional claiming won by Threes Over Deuces at Delaware Park going six furlongs on June 14.
Awesome Strong is out of Pleasant Ring, by Pleasant Tap and was bred by John B. Penn. He has four wins in five career starts with earnings of $459,200 and Samy Camacho will be aboard when he breaks from post two.
The remainder of the field for the Haskell includes Geaux Rocket Ride, ridden by Mike Smith; Salute the Stars and jockey Joel Rosario, Howgratisnate with Paco Lopez aboard and Extra Anejo will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione.