OCEANPORT, N.J. – The race to
the 3-year-old championship gets off to a rousing start here on Sunday as
Classic winners Shackleford and Ruler On Ice head a field of eight in the $1
million Resorts Casino Hotel Haskell Invitational (G1), traditional centerpiece
of Monmouth Park’s summer meeting.
Shackleford, winner of the Preakness Stakes for trainer
Dale Romans, drew Post 5 and was installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for
this 44th running of the mile and an eighth Haskell.
Ruler On Ice, the Monmouth-based runner who upset the
Belmont Stakes, goes from Post 6 in the Haskell and is 4-1 co-third choice on
the morning line. Stablemate Pants On Fire, also trained by Kelly Breen, goes
from Post 3 and is also rated at 4-1 by Monmouth oddsmaker Brad Thomas.
In addition to the winner’s share of the purse, the
Haskell victor also receives a free entry into the $5 million Breeders’ Cup
Classic on Nov. 5.
With Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom out for the
season, Shackleford and Ruler On Ice (a son of 2005 Haskell winner Roman Ruler)
are the pro-tem co-leaders of the 3-year-old division. However, any of the
other Haskell entrants could move into contention quickly with a victory here
Trainer Bob Baffert, who has already won a record four
runnings of the Haskell, including last year with 3-year-old champion Lookin At
Lucky, will send out a lightly raced runner in Coil. The son of 2001 Haskell
winner Point Given drew Post 1 and is the 3-1 second favorite on the line.
complete field for this running of the Haskell, as drawn Thursday, consists of:
Coil, Post 1, Martin Garcia, 3-1; Joe Vann, Post 2, Joe Bravo, 15-1; Pants On
Fire, Post 3, Elvis Trujillo, 4-1; Concealed Identity, Post 4, Chris DeCarlo,
12-1; Shackleford, Post 5, Jesus Castanon, 5-2; Ruler On Ice, Post 6, Jose
Valdivia Jr., 4-1; J J’s Lucky Train, Post 7, Paco Lopez, 20-1, and Astrology,
Post 8, Julien Leparoux, 9-2.
whose style of racing on or near the lead seems ideal for Monmouth, is in the
right spot for the Haskell, trainer Dale Romans said.
a perfect spot, right in the middle,” Romans said. “He’s been training great,
and we’ll see what happens.”
son of Forestry (who was third in the 1999 Haskell) led almost the whole way
before tiring late to be fourth in the Kentucky Derby. In the Preakness, he
battled for the lead throughout and had enough left to hold off Animal Kingdom
by a half-length. In the Belmont Stakes, Shackleford set the pace for more than
a mile before tiring to be fifth behind Ruler On Ice.
not going to take him back (in the Haskell),” Romans said. “If he’s on the
lead, that’s fine; if he has to sit off the lead, that’s okay, too.
had a pretty grueling year, but he’s still holding his weight and still looks
great. His last two works (at Churchill Downs) have been spectacular.”
Baffert, who won last year’s Haskell from the rail with Lookin At Lucky, Martin
Garcia aboard, was not totally thrilled with getting Post 1 again this year.
been down on the inside all year,” Baffert said, “I was hoping for something
has made only five starts in his life – all on synthetic tracks -- and was
second by a head in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park
find out a lot more about this horse in this race,” Baffert said. “He’s been
getting better and better as he gets older, though. He worked over the dirt
track at Santa Anita, and Garcia said he thought he went even better than over
been working really well at Del
Mar,” the trainer said, “and we think he’ll run a big race.”
Breen will saddle both Ruler On Ice and Pants On Fire for George and Lori Hall,
who live near the track in Rumson,
On Ice, a $100,000 yearling purchase, upped his career earnings to $766,500
with his Belmont
win, and is finally living up to the potential Breen has always seen in him.
still on Cloud 9 from that race,” Breen said. “I always thought he was a
topnotch horse, but he’s a test for any trainer. We added blinkers for the Belmont, and maybe that
put him over the top.”
On Fire, a homebred son of Jump Start, won the Pegasus Stakes here on June 18,
his prep for the Haskell. He gets a new rider Sunday in Elvis Trujillo because
his regular jockey, Rosie Napravnik is injured.
3 is a good spot for him,” Trujillo
said, “because we can save ground. I won’t have to rush him out of there. We
can just follow the speed.”
Asmussen, who won the Haskell in 2009 with Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra,
said Astrology will have to step up a bit on Sunday.
need him to run the best race he’s ever run,” Asmussen said about his A.P. Indy
colt, who was third in the Preakness, nearly two lengths behind Shackleford.
think the mile and an eighth of the Haskell is the ideal distance for him.”
Identity, who will ship up from Bowie,
Md., on Sunday morning, is
trained by Eddie Gaudet. His wife Linda, who co-owns the gelding in partnership
with Morris Bailey, said she thought Post 4 was ideal.
pretty perfect,” she said.
Identity, by Smarty Jones, finished 10th in the Preakness, but
rebounded to run a sharp second behind Pants On Fire in the Pegasus Stakes.
hope the race over this track helps him,” Gaudet said. “We were very pleased
with the way he ran at Monmouth.
he has to step up his game this time,” she said. “We want him to sit off the
speed and finish strong, like he did in the Pegasus.”
DeCarlo, who rode Concealed Identity in the Pegasus, will be trying to win his
second Haskell. His first came in 1986 when he was a17-year-old newcomer and
guided Wise Times to an upset score.
Pletcher, who won back-to-back editions of the Haskell in 2006-2007 with
Bluegrass Cat and Any Given Saturday, will send out Illinois Derby winner Joe
Vann, who will ship down from Saratoga
for the race.
training well and coming up to the race in good shape,” Pletcher said.
Bravo, who rides Joe Vann for the first time, will be looking for his second
Haskell win. His first came in 2004 aboard Lion Heart.
J J's Lucky Train will be the longshot in the field, but trainer Bill Anderson
is hoping “horses for courses” prevails Sunday. The son of Silver Train has won
two of his three career starts here.
likes the Monmouth racetrack a lot,” Anderson
said. “He’s a gutsy horse. He runs over anything.”
Pants On Fire
Ruler On Ice
Jose Valdivia Jr.
J J’s Lucky Train