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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Not the Usual Haskell in 2013

 
The Haskell Invitational (G1) has become predictable in recent years: a heavy betting favorite runs to its odds and wins the race convincingly. As matter of fact, since 2004 that has been the case every year, except in 2011, when Coil won as the 3.20-1 second betting choice.
 
Last year Paynter was even money and drew off to win by almost 4 lengths. In 2010 it was Lookin At Lucky winning by four at 1.20-1.  In one of the most memorable Haskell’s of all time Rachel Alexandra was bet down to .50-1 and she dominated the six colts in the field to win by six.
 
However 2013 may be a year when the Haskell does not play to that trend. This year’s field of seven is rather contentious, with a very nice balance of early speed and late runners.
 
Vyjack was a late entry in to the field after he drew the 10 post position in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Vyjack has been away from the races since the Belmont Stakes. Remember Vyjack won his first four starts including the Jerome (G2) and the Gotham (G3). He won the Gotham with a dramatic late run from last to first, but he has shown the he can win close to the lead. Vyjack will get Monmouth’s leading rider, Paco Lopez.
 
Pick of the Litter joined the Haskell field this week. Trainer Dale Romans is always willing to take a shot with his horses is doing just that with this son of Kitten’s Joy. Off from the races since April, he has only a maiden win and a third place in Keeneland’s Lexington (G3). Romans said, “Pick of the Litter has been recovering from a muscle strain and is doing really well and might be sitting on a big race.”
 
Golden Soul is the second place finisher in the Kentucky Derby who also has been off since the Belmont Stakes. The blistering pace in the Derby set up the big closers and trainer Dallas Stewart is hoping for a similar scenario at the Jersey Shore. Stewart said in reference to the early speed, “Just let ‘em roll. We hope to be not more than seven to ten lengths behind, since Monmouth tends to favor the front-runners.”
 
Power Broker is this year’s entry from Bob Baffert, the recent king of the Haskell. Baffert has won six Haskells in total and the past three in a row. But this year Baffert has been less confident than usual. First he couldn’t decide between a trip to New Jersey or to the West Virginia Derby. Then early this week he declared Power Broker out of the Haskell only to reverse his position a couple of days later. Baffert said, “The Haskell would be a real class check, but he deserves the chance.”
He told his assistant Jimmy Barnes, “We are not going in to the Haskell as strong this year as in other years.”
 
Oxbow ran three impressive races in this year’s Triple Crown including his win in the Preakness. Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens will continue to ride for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Stevens said, “I have learned that he is one dimensional. He tries every time and I just try and stay out of his way. He is one of only two special horses. He reminds me of Thunder Gulch in that he excelled and improved in each of the Triple Crown races.”
 
Micromanage will represent owner Mike Repole and trainer Todd Pletcher. It was his impressive and eventful win in the Long Branch at Monmouth that earned him a spot in the Haskell. The comment line from that race does not begin to show what happened. Jockey Joe Bravo was more specific, “He got carried so wide in the first turn that I thought we would end up at valet parking.” Yet Micromanage recovered and beat the field of eight by 4½ lengths.
 
Verrazano has only one career loss in six starts and that was his disappointing 14th place in the Kentucky Derby. Bryan Sullivan, the Managing Partner of Lets Go Stable, said, “Verrazano did not care for the track [at Churchill Downs]. We circled the Haskell and he prepped in the Pegasus perfectly. He really liked the track here at Monmouth. If he can duplicate that race, we’ll be in good shape on Sunday.”
 
Verrazano has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite with Oxbow close behind at 2-1. It appears that the wagering will be much more even than in recent Haskells and I fully expect that there will be a much closer finish also. 

 

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Older Comments about Not the Usual Haskell in 2013...

One has to be careful when comparing other horses to Curlin.This is one of the greats of the modern era.The only reason he was not the triple crown winner was a case of bad racing luck.a very troubled derby trip,then the tough beat to rags to riches in the belmont.no disrespect to oxbow or any other recent 3 yo colt. they are not even in the same neighberhood as that star was.
Curlin - Oxbow is silly.... Oxbow -Shackleford I could see.
kdeppen1, Are you thinking of Curlin, or possibly a different horse, for your comparison to Oxbow? Curlin did not win the Haskell, he was 3rd; he did not run in the Travers. Curlin went straight to the JCGC (way out of the 3y/o division) after the Haskell, won that, and then won the BC Classic. I don't see many similarities between Oxbow and Curlin thus far.
as small as this field is, it could go any which way
Only comparison I see between Oxbow and Curlin are a win in the Preakness and 2nd in the Belmont. Beyond that, there's nothing similar...running style, how they won their preaknesses, how they lost their Belmonts, how they look, etc.
Oxbow, reminds me so much of Curlin. Wins here, than the Traverse, than the B.C. Go Oxbow Go !!
Verrazano; Pick of the Litter; Oxbow; Power Broker
You can't ignore Bafferts streak in the Haskell. He has come loaded the last 3 years.
Since most of the "experts" with a vote have ranked Oxbow above Orb as the leading 3yo, I look forward to seeing Oxbow try his hand again vs Verrazano.
Since most of the "experts" with a vote have ranked Oxbow above Orb as the leading 3yo, I look forward to seeing Oxbow try his hand again vs Verrazano.
Hoping for Verrazano as I do not care for Oxbow, but my prediction is these two get caught in a speed duel and Micromanage runs late for first
I am glad that Verrazano probably will be the betting favorite. I see him finishing 3rd or 4th. I agree with Zipse that Micromanage will do well, he could get up for 2nd. Oxbow seems to be the one to beat. Power Broker has a definite upset chance. My top 4 are Oxbow,PowerBroker,Verrazano, Micromanage. The 4 horses that I like all drew well, posts 4-7.
I liked Verrazano and Vyjack in the Spring. Micromanage and Verrazano looked great in Saratoga.
A very nice seven horse field ... Watch out for Micromanage running late!

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

 

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