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Racing At The Jersey Shore

The Haskell: Where Champions Prove Their Greatness

Lookin At Lucky runs away with the 2010 Haskell at Monmouth Park

Monmouth Park gives the grade 1 Haskell Invitational the tag line, “Where champions prove their greatness”.  In the past four runnings, The Haskell has produced a pair of Horse of the Year winners and five year-end divisional champions: Curlin, Big Brown, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird and Lookin at Lucky.

 

The race began in 1968 as the Monmouth Invitational and was then renamed The Haskell Invitational in 1981. Prior to 1981 Monmouth offered the Haskell Handicap for older males; today older horses run in the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (GIII).  Amory L. Haskell was the President of Monmouth Park from 1946 to 1996. During that period the current and third version of Monmouth Park was built and opened.

 

Eight Horse of the Year winners have run in The Haskell; however, four of them did not win the race. In 1985, Spend A Buck was defeated by Skip Trial. Alysheba lost to Bet Twice in 1987 and Curlin, who was HOY in 2007 and 2008, ran third behind Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun.  Holy Bull, 1994, Point Given, 2001, and Rachel Alexandra, 2009, won the HOY in the same year as their victory.  Skip Away, son of Skip Trial, won the Haskell in 1996, but did not earn his HOY title until 1998.

 

Haskell runners have won more than 20 Eclipse Awards, as listed in the chart.  Eight victors went on to win their 3 Year-Old title, including the fillies Serena's Song and Rachel Alexandra.

 

Many Haskell fans consider the 1987 running to be one of the best. The race matched Alysheba, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and Bet Twice, who had just won the Belmont Stakes and was trained by Monmouth conditioner Jimmy Croll.  Lost Code led the race into the stretch until Bet Twice passed him and held off the late charge of Alysheba to win a blanket finish in a stakes record tying time of 1:47 for the 9 furlongs.

 

The most exciting and popular victory probably came in 2009 when the great filly Rachel Alexandra beat the colts for the second time to continue her unbeaten year.  Coming off her Preakness victory, Rachel defeated the Belmont winner Summer Bird by six lengths in 1:47-1.  Summer Bird would go on to win the Travers and the 3YO colt Eclipse Award.

        

The Haskell probably also holds the championship for the best racetrack giveaway with The Haskell hats.  The highly coveted hats were first given away in 1988 with the inaugural green cap sporting the classic snapback, baggy shape, and yellow decorative cord trim.  They don’t make them like that anymore.  This year’s hat is a stylish black with yellow and red details that remind me of the color's of last year's winner Lookin At Lucky.


Once again this year’s race has attracted the Preakness and Belmont winners in Shackleford and Ruler On Ice. Bob Baffert, who holds the record for most Haskell victories with four, is expected to bring Coil to Monmouth Park. For the second year in a row year The Haskell will be broadcast to a national television audience on ABC-TV from 5-6pm ET.  

 

Will the 2011 Haskell produce a fifth consecutive 3YO title?  Will racing at the Jersey Shore continue to produce champions? Come on out to Monmouth and get your Haskell hat. I will see you there!

 

 

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Older Comments about The Haskell: Where Champions Prove Their Greatness...

It will be interesting to see who runs in and wins the Travers, especially if Shackleford or Ruler on Ice do not win the Haskell.
I think if Shackleford wins the Haskell, he is 3yo champ - unless a 3yo wins the BCClassic
Eight horses of the year ran in the Haskell, and only four of them won ... proves what a great race it is year in, year out. The 1987 edition wasn not only one of the best Haskell's ever, it was one of the greatest races I have ever seen

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Meet Matt Shifman

In the 70’s I was another one of those kids that went to the track with their fathers, and I immediately became enthralled with the excitement and challenges of handicapping.  And then the charisma and dominance of Secretariat gave me a hero to follow. To this day, I still get emotional when I hear Chic Anderson’s call of the 1973 Belmont, “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine”.

 
There have been many great horses run at the shore. In 1976 I watched Majestic Light win the Monmouth Invitational, now the Haskell, in track record time, defeating Honest Pleasure, the big favorite who was in from New York.  This was one of my first big wins at the track.
 
In the 80’s, as a disciple of Andy Beyer, I made my own speed figures because they were not available to the public. Needless to say I visited Monmouth frequently to test out the “figs”.
 
The 90’s allowed me to learn about the backstretch as a part owner of a few claimers that were stabled at Philadelphia Park.  Not a typical owner, I mucked stalls, cooled out the horses, and watched morning works.  Also, I met my wife and discovered that her grandfather bred, owned, and raced thoroughbreds on the West Virginia, Maryland circuit.  Today our office is decorated with winner’s circle pictures and a vast collection of Kentucky Derby glasses.
 
Today’s electronic age makes it so easy to gather information about racing.  I hope you use this blog to learn about Racing at the Jersey Shore.