Before they blare "Born to Run" for the main event on Haskell Day at the Jersey Shore, Monmouth's premier turf race will set the table. The Grade 1 United Nations goes as Race 11 on Saturday's card and immediately precedes the featured Haskell. The 1-3/8 miles turf test is one of two money-back guarantee races offered by Xpressbet and 1/ST BET at Monmouth on Saturday, joining the Haskell. Get up to $10 back if your win bet finishes second or third.
ARKLOW is the field's signature winner at the Grade 1 level. TRIBHUVAN is a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed. IMPERADOR was a Group 1 winner in Argentina, while MASTER PIECE won at the Group 2 level in Chile.
TRIBHUVAN has been an assumed rabbit in recent races who didn't get the memo that he was there just to set the table. Expect him to be on or near the lead with EPIC BROMANCE, WINTERS BACK and OCEAN'S MAP potential speed to his inside. The pace should be very solid for 11 furlongs.
ARKLOW was the 6-5 favorite in this race last summer, lagged early and didn't muster much run when fourth. The 7-year-old has made $2.75 million overall and has rebounded to win 3 of his 4 starts since last year's misfire. Jockey Florent Geroux won this United Nations in 2016 and has been a stalwart with Brad Cox for the past few years. They'll team up with Mandaloun in the Haskell as well. This should be a faster pace than the veteran is used to, and he struggled with that in the Pegasus World Cup the last time posed with such a scenario in 2020. Respect him, but shop around some.
TRIBHUVAN, MASTER PIECE and SERVE THE KING all represent the nation's premier turf barn of Chad Brown. He won this race in 2013, 2015 and 2018, the latter with 7-year-old Big Blue Kitten. This trio of 5-year-olds are pups in comparison. SERVE THE KING has been playing off-Broadway for Brown at Tampa and Monmouth, but does lure local leading jockey Paco Lopez, who won this race in 2019. MASTER PIECE has a Keeneland allowance win sandwiched between modest Grade 1 efforts since coming stateside from South America. Both of these have a lot of improvement needed to catch TRIBHUVAN, who appears much strongest of the Brown band.
WINTERS BACK led most of the Grade 3 Monmouth in the local prep before giving way late over a quarter-mile shorter in trip. The projected solid pace makes his task even tougher. GLYNN COUNTY steps up in class while in good form from Kentucky, but has not hinted at being this type of performer to date.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
TRIBHUVAN has speed, class and connections. He may not negotiate the entire mile and three-eighths, but he'll be punching for the superfecta in some fashion.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
FANTASIOSO teased me at Keeneland with a hint of player about him, and his last 2 races sort of followed suit. He cuts back from the 2-mile Belmont Gold Cup, but adds blinkers that could sharpen him for his rally. The pace will be strong in front of him, and underrated rider Miguel Mena rarely gets bet in races of this caliber. That should help elevate the price.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$40 win FANTASIOSO. $15 exacta key-box FANTASIOSO with ARKLOW and TRIBHUVAN ($60).