There are no shortage of storylines surrounding the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, with Saturday’s race serving as a bridge between the Triple Crown and the fall campaign, when championships will be won.
In fact, any one of four Haskell entrants could catapult into contention for year-end honors with a big effort in the nine furlong test.
Since 2001, the Haskell winner has gone on to garner Horse of the Year honors four times (Point Given in 2001, Rachel Alexandra in 2009, American Pharoah in 2015 and Authentic in 2020), while seven have gone on to be named the top 3-year-old.
Here are the eight Haskell entrants, along with post positions and morning line odds:
1. CYBERKNIFE 6-1
Trainer: Brad Cox.
Owner: Gold Square LLC.
Jockey: Florent Geroux.
The Gun Runner colt burst into the 3-year-old picture with a win in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Cyberknife then followed up an 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby with a hard-fought victory in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. Cox won last year’s Haskell with Mandaloun when Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified for interference.
2. TAIBA 7/5
Trainer: Bob Baffert.
Owner: Zedan Racing Stables.
Jockey: Mike Smith.
Baffert has had Taiba back in his barn since July 3, when his 90-day suspension ended, and now looks to the Gun Runner colt for his 10th Haskell win. Taiba’s first two performances were brilliant, picking up a 103 Beyer Speed Figure in breaking his maiden at Santa Anita and a 102 in winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. It’s been 11 weeks since Taiba finished 12th finished in the Kentucky Derby.
3. ONE TIME WILLARD 30-1
Trainer: John Stephens.
Owner: Barrister Breeding LLC.
Jockey: Paco Lopez
A last-minute entrant, this son of Mircromanage has not won beyond the maiden ranks. In his last start, One Time Willard finished third in a Monmouth Park allowance race. Two starts back, the New Jersey bred was fourth in a black-type stake at Belmont Park. He would be only the second Jersey-bred to win the Haskell, joining 1980 winner Thanks to Tony.
4. HOWLING TIME 10-1
Trainer: Dale Romans.
Owner: Albaugh Family Stable.
Jockey: Joe Talamo.
While Howling Time has never won a graded stake, but all but did it last time out, leading every step of the way in the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs before Cyberknife won by a nose on the last jump. It produced a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure. Having gone to the front in the last two races, look for Howling Time to be in the mix early.
5. KING OF HOLLYWOOD 30-1
Trainer: Gregg Sacco.
Owner: Monmouth Stud and Pinnacle Racing.
Jockey: Nik Juarez
A last-minute entrant, King of Hollywood comes off a seventh-place finish in the TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, where he is stabled. Prior to that race, King of Hollywood was an impressive allowance winner at Monmouth. With 13 career starts, King of Hollywood is the most experienced horse in the race.
6. WHITE ABARRIO 5-1
Trainer: Saffie Jospeh.
Owner: C2 Racing Stable LLC., La Milagrosa Stable LLC.
Jockey: Joel Rosario.
One of three Haskell entrants that disappointed in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 16th, White Abarrio comes off a runner-up finish behind Tawny Port, seventh in the Derby, in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby. Throw out the Derby and White Abarrio has hit the board in all six races, winning four times, including the Grade 3 Holy Bull and Grade 1 Florida Derby in succession.
7. JACK CHRISTOPHER 3/2
Trainer: Chad Brown.
Owner: Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud, Peter M. Brant.
Jockey: Jose Ortiz.
With four dominating wins, by a combined 25 lengths, to open his career, this Grade 1 winner at two and three is in the hunt for year-end honors after a 10-length score in the Woody Stephens at Belmont Park. A 107 Beyer Speed Figure in that race is tops in the field, but Jack Christopher has never won beyond a mile or around two turns.
8. BENEVENGO 20-1
Trainer: Jesus Cruz.
Owners: Wasabi Ventures Stables.
Jockey: Isaac Castillo.
Expected to be the longest price on the board, Benevengo, claimed for $25,000 in February out of his first start, was fourth behind Dash Attack in the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park last month. Based at Monmouth Park, Benevengo went five furlongs in a brisk 58.80 on Saturday, and figures to on the front end early.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Haskell 2022: Taiba at 7/5, Jack Christopher at 3/2 top Monmouth Park field