2023 United Nations Stakes & Matchmaker Odds and Picks

There’s plenty going on at Monmouth Park on Saturday, with a stakes-heavy card featuring two quality affairs on the lawn, headed by the G1 2023 United Nations Stakes in which old-timers Red Knight and Therapist take on the up-and-coming pair Catnip and Limited Liability. The distaffers get their chance in the G3 Matchmaker, where Consumer Spending and Surprisingly meet for the third time in two months, the score standing at 2-0 to the former.

Breeders Cup Odds

United Nations Stakes

G1, $600,000, 1m 3f turf, 3yo+, 5.06pm ET

It may seem an obvious statement, but there are top-class G1s and not-so-hot G1s, and the United Nations – the highlight of the Haskell Stakes undercard at Monmouth Park on Saturday – is definitely one of the latter type, and it probably won’t require a mighty G1 performance to win it.

This opens the race right up, and means that the hardy veteran Red Knight (5-2) is working with class relief after two fine performances at the top level on his last two starts.

He rallied hard to take the 2023 G1 Man o’ War at Belmont Park over a mile and three-eighths before finding the drop in distance by a furlong against him in the 2023 G1 Manhattan at the same circuit, his stretch run lacking the power to take him closer than fourth, with longshot So High (30-1) eighth, four and three-quarter lengths further back. Stretching out again is a positive and his late-life bloom shows no sign of slowing down.

His barnmate, the equally boomer-like Therapist (6-1), is also in fine fettle, having won the 2023 G3 Pan American at Gulfstream Park over a mile and a half before just missing out in a ten-furlong stakes at Ellis Park last month, keeping on gamely but beaten a head, with Foreign Relations (8-1) a disappointing favourite, beaten three and three-quarter lengths into sixth. The extra yardage will help.

The lightly raced Foreign Relations had previously beaten Limited Liability (5-1) by a length and a half when they filled the exacta in the 2023 G3 Louisville at Churchill Downs over a mile and a half in May, the winner getting first run and the place horse unable to fetch him back; Yamato (15-1) was three-quarters of a length back in fourth and Therapist a disappointing eighth.

Limited Liability showed improvement for stretching out there and is 4lb better with Foreign Relations today, and also has back-class that could prove a factor.

The Brazilian emigre Planetario (3-1) took time to settle after moving north but is firing on all cylinders now, and may even find this distance too short after unloading in the 2023 G3 San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita over a mile and three-quarters, clearing right away to score by four and a half lengths in track-record time. He has relative youth on his side and could be capable of better, as long as he can find the speed to cope with the cutback.

On the other hand, Catnip (4-1) stretches right out for the first time after winning the 2023 G3 Monmouth here over a mile-eighth, doing all his best work late without necessarily looking as though he wanted to go longer. If he can husband his speed against these proven stayers then he’s right in the mix.

2023 United Nations Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds by Jazzsports
TherapistJavier Castellano+600
So High (GB)Romero Ramsay Maragh+3000
CatnipJoel Rosario+400
Oceans MapIsaac Castillo+3000
Limited LiabilityJohn R. Velazquez+500
Planetario (BRZ)Mike E. Smith+300
YamatoLuis Saez+1500
Foreign RelationsDeclan Cannon+800
Red KnightTyler Gaffalione+250
Kygo (GER)Paco Lopez+2000

A competitive contest, with the progressive LIMITED LIABILITY the choice after showing improved form when stretching out on his most recent start.

Matchmaker Stakes

G3, $300,000, 1m 1f turf, 3yo+ females, 1.52pm ET

Chad Brown will have plenty to keep him occupied at Saratoga this weekend, but he takes a trip to the Jersey Shore for the Matchmaker with another of his vast army of turf distaffers, and the morning-line likes his chance of adding to his record six victories in the race, including the last three years straight.

It’s not a new destination for Consumer Spending (5-2), who was here a month ago for the 2023 G3 Eatontown over a mile-sixteenth and showed willing when driving on to score by three-quarters of a length from the favourite Surprisingly (3-1), the performance made all the more impressive considering that she sat a way off a slow pace and still came running when push came to shove.

She had also finished ahead of Surprisingly when they ran two-three in the 2023 G2 Beaugay over a mile-sixteenth at Belmont Park, the margin this time just a neck. Overall, Consumer Spending’s body of work trumps that of Surprisingly but the pair are likely to be closely matched again today.

Surprisingly’s barnmate Personal Best (3-1) has hit the board in all her starts since finishing fourth on debut and made her stakes breakthrough when taking down the 2023 G3 La Prevoyante at Gulfstream Park in January, staying on grimly to get it done over the mile and a half.

This represents a much sterner test of speed, and she’s also coming off a shellacking at the hands of War Like Goddess in the 2023 G3 Bewitch at Keeneland in April – it’s debatable whether she’ll have the sizzle for this.

Gam’s Mission (9-2) had nine months on the bench after winning the 2022 G3 Mint Julep at Churchill Downs over a mile-sixteenth, and hasn’t returned with the same vigour. She won a mile allowance at Keeneland in April, coming from last to first, getting up late, but has been off since then and will need to step right up in this competitive contest.

Class is the question for Bipartisanship (4-1), who has never won at Graded level. Her show spot as a longshot in the 2023 G3 Gallorette at Pimlico over a mile-sixteenth showed promise, and her late rush to win a mile-sixteenth stakes at Parx last time – Tic Tic Tic Boom (30-1) fourth, beaten four and a quarter lengths – brings her here in good order, but she’ll need a career-best now.

The same caveat applies to Canisy (6-1), who has hit the board in six of her nine starts but finished no better than fifth in the other three – her three attempts at stakes level. She’s better suited to the allowance beat and may struggle.

2023 Matchmaker Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds by Jazzsports
CanisyJavier Castellano+600
Personal BestJohn R. Velazquez+300
Tic Tic Tic BoomUnknown +3000
Gam’s MissionTyler Gaffalione+450
Bipartisanship (GB)Luis Saez+400
Consumer SpendingJoel Rosario+250
SurprisinglyPaco Lopez+300

CONSUMER SPENDING has beaten Surprisingly on their last two encounters and can do so again, with the likely faster pace in her favour.

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