Haskell undercard features five stakes

In addition to the Grade I, $1 million Haskell Invitational, Monmouth plays host to five stakes races this Saturday. We’ll preview a pair of them below.

Monmouth Race 10 (Post time: 4:40 p.m. ET)

The Grade III, $300,000 Monmouth Cup

1 1/8-miles on dirt

Just over an hour before the three-year-olds take center stage, a solid group of older horses will slug it out over 1 1/8-miles in the Monmouth Cup.

#2 MONONGAHELA (3-1, morning-line favorite) looks like the best horse of the bunch. His latest effort in the Grade III Westchester at Belmont can be completely disregarded. It was run over a very sloppy surface and featured former Grade I winner Code of Honor. MONONGAHELA has trained steadily over this course in anticipation of his second start for Chad Brown. His only prior start at Monmouth resulted in a career-best speed figure and a four-length score in the Grade III Philip H. Iselin Stakes last June going 1 1/16th-miles. Paco Lopez, riding at a 38 percent clip ahead of Friday’s program at the Oceanport oval, climbs aboard.

The play: $10 win 2

Monmouth Race 14 (Post time: 6:51 p.m. ET)

The Grade III, $250,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes

1 1/16th-miles on dirt

#2 ROYAL FLAG (3-1) has been favored in each of her first four starts to date, but that could change on Saturday as Grade I Ogden Phipps winner #1 SHE’S A JULE (5-2, morning-line favorite) invades for Steve Asmussen. However, there are plenty of reasons to bet ROYAL FLAG in her stakes debut.

She’s 3-for-4 lifetime with the first two victories coming by a combined 17 lengths. Then ROYAL FLAG was tested by a solid filly in Saracosa at Churchill back in May – that foe would run second to Dunbar Road in the Delaware Handicap two weeks ago – but still managed a half-length score. The half-sister of Catalina Cruiser has solid connections behind her in trainer Chad Brown and jockey Paco Lopez.

The play: $10 win 2

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