There were eight grade one stakes run
for three year-olds in the first half of 2012, ending of course with the Triple
Crown races. The second half of that season begins on Sunday, July 29, with the
45th running of the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
The chart shows that there were six
different winners of those grade one stakes and of those six, three of them are
considering the Haskell. For three year-olds that want to continue their
campaigns on a dirt surface while going a distance of ground the big decision
is to run in the Haskell on July 29, or
the $600,000 Jim Dandy, which is a
grade two, on July 28. Both of
those races prepare horses for the Midsummer Derby, the Travers (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday, August 25.
Bob Baffert committed to the Monmouth Park race before the Preakness was run.
Regardless of Bodemeister’s performance he was going to skip the Belmont Stakes
and wait for the Haskell. Of course, Bodemeister had two gutsy second place finishes in the first two legs of the Triple Crown
behind I'll Have Another.
Baffert loves to send
his three year-olds to Monmouth Park. He has already won the Haskell five times
in 2011, Lookin at Lucky in 2010, Roman Ruler in 2005, War Emblem in 2002, and Point Given in 2001. So, Baffert will
be going for his third consecutive victory with Bodemeister.
It will be interesting to see if
Baffert’s March health scare in Dubai will change his training strategy. Last year he made it clear that, “I can't win the Haskell without eating
at Max's Hot Dogs on day of race. Just had lunch at
Max's Hot Dogs on Jersey Shore. Best hot dog in the world.”
winners Gemologist and Union Rags are considering the Haskell.
Gemologist won his first five starts for WinStar and Todd Pletcher before his disappointing 16th place finish
in the Kentucky Derby. Union Rags
will be facing yet another rider change since John Velazquez broke his
collarbone at Churchill Downs. It
was Johnny V.’s gutsy rail ride
that got the Belmont Stakes victory for Union Rags.
Monmouth Park prep race for the Haskell happened on Father’s Day. Le Bernardin held off a hard charging Easter Gift to win the Pegasus (G3) by a neck. Both horses now
seem headed to the Haskell. Le Bernardin’s trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, “It was a
great win and an excellent ride by Mike Luzzi. The Haskell is obviously a
race we’ll look at after we see how he comes out of this.”
Gift had won both of his prior starts and Nick Zito was very pleased with his
horse’s progress, “We’ll definitely have to think about the Haskell after his
race today. He handled two turns just fine and came running at the
end. I thought it was a very good race and something we can build off
Trainer Ken McPeek is also considering the Haskell for Unstoppable U after he ran close to Paynter in the Belmont Stakes
before fading to finish sixth in what was only his third career start.
The Long Branch Stakes on July 8 is Monmouth Park’s last prep race for
the Haskell. The $100,000 event is run at a mile and a sixteenth.
connections of Union Rags and Gemologist have to make the Jim Dandy or Haskell
decision. We know where Bodemeister will be on July 29, and the three of them
are going to have to meet at some point, but will it be at Monmouth Park or in Saratoga
for the Travers?