By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Even without Del Mar, cancelled owing to the spate of coronavirus positives in the jockeys’ room, there is top-grade racing in the US on Saturday, when the $1m Haskell at Monmouth provides the highlight. It’s usually a Bob Baffert benefit – and guess what? He saddles the odds-on favourite Authentic.
Monmouth Park: Haskell Stakes G1 $1m
1m, dirt, 3yo (10.48pm BST)
Bob Baffert goes for his ninth victory in the $1 million Haskell with leading Kentucky Derby contender Authentic (Mike Smith), who lost his unbeaten record last time when second to Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby on June 6. Belmont Stakes runner-up Dr. Post (Todd Pletcher/Joe Bravo) is the second favourite in a field lacking obvious depth.
Authentic: “He had sort of a rough trip [in Santa Anita Derby]. He didn’t break well and he broke out a couple lanes, and ended up getting caught wide, was a little rank. He came into the race a little bit fresh. I backed off of him because I didn’t know when they were going to run the Santa Anita Derby. We like to make excuses for our horses because they are like our children but right now, he’s training the best he’s ever trained for a race.” Bob Baffert (trainer)
Saratoga: Blinkers for Tonalist’s Shape
Saratoga: Coaching Club American Oaks G1 $350,000
1m1f, dirt, 3yo fillies (11.16pm BST)
The blinkers are on Tonalist’s Shape (Saffie Joseph/Irad Ortiz), who brings a career record of six out of seven into this prestigious contest for three-year-old fillies, this year a major prep race for the rescheduled Kentucky Oaks [September 4]. Twice a graded-stakes winner at Gulfstream, she now steps up in trip against a field full of likely-looking maiden scorers representing top barns.
Altaf: “It’s a big step, but I like the fact that we have a nice small field and Chad [Brown] is very, very pleased with her. He loves her; he’s always thought a lot of her. If she wins on Saturday and comes out of it well, we’ll speak to Sheikh Hamdan and I’m sure he would love to give her a try in the Oaks.”
Rick Nichols (general manager of Shadwell Farms, owner)
Tonalist’s Shape: “She trains much more forwardly in the blinkers. You never really know until they run in them how it will go, but all indications are that she will run well in them. We know we have a really nice filly but we have steep competition with some of the other fillies in this category. We’re hoping to find even more improvement. On pedigree, it tells you she is 100% about stamina, but you never truly know until they do it,” (Saffie Joseph, trainer)
Saratoga: Clement pair go head-to-head
Saratoga: National Racing Museum Hall of Fame Stakes G2 $150,000
1m1f, turf, 3yo (7.18pm BST)
Turf specialist Christophe Clement has entered a pair of high-class graded stakes winners here in Decorated Invader (Joel Rosario) and Gufo (David Cohen). On a hat-trick in 2020, the former is already a G1 winner, having won the Summer Stakes at Woodbine as a two-year-old, while Gufo has won his last four.
With his trainer seeking his sixth win in the race, dual winner Domestic Spending (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz) gets a handy 6lb from the Clement pair.
Decorated Invader: “The challenge is when you have a horse that’s a standout in a short field, there’s going to be a target on his back. The break and the first eighth of a mile will be important. It’s very good to have the option to be a closer, but we have seen time and time again where you have the best horse in the race, and they don’t come back.” (Terry Finley of West Thoroughbreds, owners)
Gufo: “The original idea was to target the Saratoga Derby, but there’s possible rain in the forecast on Friday and he came out of his last race in good order. It just keeps our options open, so we’ll have a look at the race.” (Christophe Clement, trainer)