The now retired Triple Crown winner Justify will be parading for the summer crowd at Del Mar on Saturday and the rest of the 3-year-olds now have three opportunities to win an important stakes race this weekend heading into the second half of the racing year.
Trainer Tom Amoss has one of those other 3-year-olds and he is sending Lone Sailor, who finished second in the Ohio and Louisiana Derbys, to the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park. Amoss knows without Justify that this weekend’s races should be wide open.
“When you look at the 3-year-old division exiting the Belmont Stakes it was Justify and then all of the rest,” said Amoss. “You could probably put 20 3-year-olds out there and they’d look a lot alike. That’s no disrespect to Good Magic, who will be a deserving Haskell favorite, or any of the other horses.”
A field of seven is expected for the Sunday’s Haskell, which will go as race 12 out of 14 with post time scheduled for 5:47pm ET. Good Magic, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby after being named the 2-year-old champion in 2017, will be the favorite. Joining him and Lone Sailor will be the Preakness runner-up, Bravazo, who runs for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Saratoga has the Curlin, which is restricted to 3-year-olds that have never won a stakes race over a mile this year, on its Friday card as the ninth race. Hofburg, the 3rd place finisher in the Belmont Stakes is likely to be an odds-on favorite in the race. Hall of Famer Bill Mott is the trainer of Hofburg.
“He’s doing good,” said Mott. “We got a useful work and he galloped out good. He was strong this morning walking the shedrow. He’s been eating well enough. He held up well throughout the Triple Crown races and he seems as though he’s improved since.”
Mott had considered running Hofburg in the Jim Dandy on Saturday at Saratoga. No doubt that the Curlin will provide an easier spot as Mott’s major goal for Hofburg is the Travers.
The Jim Dandy drew a field of five that includes four horses that started in at least one of the Triple Crown races. Tenfold ran third in the Preakness and returned in the Belmont Stakes to finish sixth. Sporting Chance was sixth in the Preakness. Flameaway was the 13th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby. Vino Rosso, who is likely to be the favorite, was ninth in the Derby and then fourth in the Belmont Stakes.
Todd Pletcher talked about Vino Rosso, “He’s coming off a mile and a half race, we just wanted see how he was doing, see what his enthusiasm level and energy level look like and I thought both were very good. I was happy with him. I think the Wood Memorial is still his best win, so he’s shown he can be effective at a mile and an eighth.”
Hofburg, Vino Rosso, and Good Magic each face a small field as they try to fill the void in the 3-year-old male division created by the retirement of Justify. If they bring their best effort to the track this weekend they should be able to establish themselves as the horses to beat in the division for the rest of the year.