The big NJ horse betting spotlight – one involving thoroughbreds and the other for harness – will greet Garden State bettors over the next couple of weekends.
On the horse-racing side, the $1 million Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in Oceanport is July 23. This is prompting speculation about the field right up until Wednesday’s draw.
In the harness-racing realm, the $600,000 Meadowlands Pace headlines a card worth over $2.4 million this Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, harness-racing’ premier American facility.
Back-to-back blockbusters. Back-to-back weekends in the national spotlight for the New Jersey horse-racing industry.
In both cases, and throughout the season, New Jersey bettors can access the action via 4NJBETS, powered by TVG.
Here is a closer look at how both events are stacking up.
The Haskell Stakes and Bob Baffert
For many fans and bettors, projecting the possible Haskell fields is half the fun, because some of the nation’s top 3-year-old thoroughbreds will battle it out at Monmouth
Selections will be drawn from a Who’s Who list after 19 were nominated
Jack Christopher, a steamrolling 4-for-4 in his career, is expected to run. He’s been a juggernaut, winning at six furlongs, seven furlongs and one mile. Now he must stretch out to a career-long 1 1-8 miles. He is likely to get the lead on a speed-favoring track.
However, how far he can go and will somebody compromise him
Will Bob Baffert return, bringing Taiba, a lightly-raced contender?
The Haskell would mark Baffert’s return to Grade 1 competition following a 90-day suspension. He has won the race a record nine times with the last coming with Authentic in 2020.
Taiba turned the horse racing on its ear during the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He established industry highs of 103 and 102 Beyer Speed Figures and won the Santa Anita Derby in just his second race. He flattened out in the 1 1–4-mile Kentucky Derby but would only have to go 1 1-8 miles here.
Taiba would be a perfect stalking position if Jack Christopher hits a wall.
Based on suspensions, Baffert had to turn Taiba over to his former trainer Tim Yakteen in the spring. Industry perception is that Baffert retains some kind of connection to the horse.
As far as other Haskell nominees go, Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife has been long considered a probable entry.
Blue Grass Stakes winner Zandon would add spice to the race as a stalker. The question surrounding his connections is whether this race fits his style.
Hard to forget American Pharoah’s place in NJ horse betting history
Briefly getting back to Baffert, his name still rings magically in the halls of Monmouth Park. He brought American Pharoah to run here in the 2015 Haskell right after the 3-year-old snapped a 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
The 2015 Haskell was a high-water mark for Baffert and for Monmouth Park, which set an attendance record of 60,983, as American Pharoah triumphed.
Decisions, decisions for horse racing owners
We the People, who showed early promise, also has been nominated. He logged a respectable fourth in the Belmont Stakes, is lightly raced and could be primed for his biggest effort at any time.
It is widely believed that Preakness winner Early Voting will run in the July 30 Jim Dandy at Saratoga, a prep for the Aug. 27 Travers Stakes.
While the Jim Dandy takes away from the Haskell, a $1 million bonus offered by Australian technology giant BetMakers may coax others to stay. Any horse who wins the Haskell, the Travers and Breeders Cup Classic on Nov. 5 will earn a $1 million bonus for his connections.
That bonus actually was paid out in 2019, when Authentic captured the Haskell, the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup classic.
Meadowlands Racetrack ‘Paces’ harness racing world
The $600,000 Meadowlands Pace is the headlined feature in the “The Greatest Party in Harness Racing” card worth over $2.4 million in purses.
Beach Glass was installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite after romping to a 5 1-4 length victory in the first elimination. He drew post 6 in the 10-horse field.
Then there is Market Based, who won the second qualifier and is 5-1. He drew post 4. Night Hawk got post 3 and is 4-1. He just missed winning the second qualifier at 1-5.
This figures to be an excellent clash of the titans.
The Meadowlands Racetrack will host supporting stakes led by the $500,000 WR Haughton FFA pace and its mare companion, the $175,000 Dorothy Haughton,
The $432,000 ET Gerry Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters pits the darling of the division and last year’s Hambletonian Oaks winner Bella Bellini against male counterparts including last week’s Graduate final winner Rattle My Cage.
The card includes three other events with purses exceeding $100,000.
Hambo up next on NJ horse betting scene
The $1 million Hambletonian or “Hambo”unfolds Aug. 6 and the qualifiers are July 29. The elimination heats provide good insights into the favorites for the big race.