So, you’re looking at the field for Sunday’s $1 million IZOD Haskell Invitational (gr. I) and you just can’t figure out who you like in a field filled with classic winners and classic-placed horses. Of the eight horses entered, five of them are going to get bet, with most of the money being spread out among them – Lookin At Lucky , Super Saver , First Dude , Ice Box , and Trappe Shot .
The question one has to ask is whether there is money to be made betting one of the remaining three horses. With Our Dark Knight likely to put pace pressure on First Dude, the late-closing Afleet Again should finally get a pace scenario that suits his style of running, and this long-striding son of Afleet Alex is a relentless stretch runner once he levels off. Our Dark Knight, himself, has a ton of ability, is just now coming into his own, and certainly is no rabbit (for Ice Box) in here.
But the horse that seems to be well under the radar is Uptowncharlybrown , who will be no better than sixth choice. Most everyone is aware by now of this fairy tale in the making. There is the horse’s 59 owners, all just plain ‘ol local folks who put up a minimal amount with Fantasy Lane Stable to own part of a dream. And of course there is longtime Monmouth trainer Alan Seewald, who finally found the horse he’d been looking for all his life, but sadly passed away this spring without seeing the horse reach his full potential. Seewald always wanted to win the Haskell and was convinced Uptowncharlybrown was the horse to make that become a reality.
Fairy tales aside, Uptowncharlybrown just might prove to be a huge overlay in the Haskell if he can finally get an uneventful trip, something he hasn’t had since his early days at Tampa Bay Downs. He took a step in that direction by drawing post 7, where he should be able to stay out trouble.
But is it realistic to think this horse can knock off most of the best 3-year-olds in the country? Well, the bottom line is, he has 2 1/4 lengths to make up on Super Saver and two lengths to make up on First Dude.
In the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), in which he finished behind Super Saver, he had a disastrous trip down on the inside, being forced to check on the first turn and then getting trapped behind horses with nowhere to go on the second turn. In the Belmont Stakes, although he lost an eight-pound weight pad during the race and was subsequently disqualified from fifth, he managed to get beat only three lengths despite racing a good portion of the race with a slipped saddle and stuck down on the inside.
And you have to remember, he was coming into the Belmont off a seven-week layoff and never having raced farther than 1 1/16 miles. So, to run the race he did stretching out to 1 1/2 miles, he must have a great deal of quality.
In his start prior to the Belmont, the Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, he broke poorly and got bumped around, dropping back to 11th in the 12-horse field. He put in a strong rally, while going very wide at the quarter pole, and was flying at the end, finishing third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by the pace-setting Exhi.
So, it certainly seems Uptowncharlybrown fits with Super Saver and First Dude, which means he fits with the others in the field as well. He has worked in company with Trappe Shot on three occasions and eyeballed him every step of the way each time, always galloping out the stronger of the two. Because he is a long-striding horse and just wants to keep going, Kiaran McLaughlin always had him do more than the quicker Trappe Shot. In his last work, he turned in a sharp five-furlong breeze in :59 4/5.
Also, take into consideration that the 5-2 favorite, Lookin At Lucky, drew the rail, which is not where Bob Baffert wanted him. This colt has been plagued with bad luck and horrible trips and now he’ll have to be lucky to get a good trip in the Haskell. So that levels the playing field even more.
Finally, there is a chance of scattered thunderstorms for Sunday, and slop, as we know, is supposed to be the great equalizer, although it obviously will move up Super Saver and probably Ice Box. But Uptowncharlybrown’s sire, Limehouse, finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby in the slop at odds of 41-1. And Limehouse’s pedigree extends to noted slop lovers and influences Gone West, Delta Judge, and Key to the Mint.
So, if you’re befuddled by the Haskell field and are looking to make some big bucks, either in win or exotic wagering, don’t ignore Uptowncharlybrown. And Afleet Again is no slouch either. Our Dark Knight would have a better shot if he were in here without having to run interference for Ice Box.
Oh, one more thing. Getting back to the ethereal for a moment, for all you romantics out there, be aware that Alan Seewald’s ashes were scattered at the finish line at Monmouth. If Uptowncharlybrown were to win, can you even begin to make that story up?