Kentucky Derby winner Mage returns for $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park

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Kentucky Derby winner Mage is expected to race for the first time since finishing third in the Preakness when the 3-year-old colt takes on seven rivals in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

Mage drew the No. 4 post position on Wednesday and was made the co-second choice behind 5-2 morning-line favorite Arabian Knight, who will be looking to give trainer Bob Baffert his 10th win in the 1 1/8-mile race that is the highlight of the meet at this New Jersey shore track.

Tapit Trice, the Todd Pletcher-trainer colt who finished third in the Belmont Stakes and seventh in the Derby, also is 3-1 along with Mage.

Ramiro Restrepo, the co-owner of Mage, said the owners have been planning to race the colt in the Travers at Saratoga next month.

“We’re just trying to plot the best course of action through the summer to the Travers,” he said after the draw. “We thought the Haskell, with its prestige and tradition, being Grade 1 and the five weeks out to the Travers landed perfectly on the calendar. It just made sense to run in both Grade 1s.”

The winner of this race will earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park in California, where Baffert is based. He also seems to like it in New Jersey. He has won this race a record nine times, the last one with Authentic in 2020.

“The Haskell has always meant a lot to us. It’s a very important race,” he said. “A lot of tradition. A lot of great horses have won that race. I love Monmouth Park.”

Arabian Knight, who is undefeated in two career starts, has not raced since winning a Grade 3 stakes in Arkansas in late January.

“He’s doing well. He’s pretty fit. I don’t particularly like the 8 (post),” Baffert said. “I was hoping to be in the middle somewhere. We freshened him up. He’s doing really well. I think he’s ready for the mile-and-an-eighth. I feel good about the way he’s going into the race. I think conditioning-wise, he’s ready for it.”

Geaux Rocket Ride drew the No. 1 post position and was made the 9-2 fourth choice. Mike Smith is listed to ride in the race that is scheduled to start at 5:47 p.m. ET and be televised by NBC Sports.

The rest of the field in post position order with colt, jockey and odds is: Awesome Strong, Jose Batista, 30-1; Salute the Stars, Joel Rosario, 8-1; Mage, Javier Castellano, 3-1; Tapit Trice, Luis Saez, 3-1; Howgreatisnate, Paco Lopez, 20-1; Extra Anejo, Tyler Gaffalione, 5-1 and Arabian Knight, John Velazquez, 5-2.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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