Afleet Again, who will take on the toughest assignment of
his career when he meets the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners in the $1
million IZOD Haskell Invitational (G1) on Sunday, Aug. 1, is the only horse in
the field who has been using Monmouth as his home base.
Trainer Butch Reid has watched his gray colt finish third in the Spend a Buck
Stakes on May 23, and second in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes on June 19, and
feels his horse can deliver a top performance in the Haskell if the pace
scenario is right.
“He’s been running well at Monmouth,” Reid said. “But in both of those stakes,
the pace was way too slow for him to close like I know he can. In both races,
they went the half in :49 and change and the six furlongs in 1:14 or so.
“If he gets a good pace in the Haskell, and I think he will, I think he’ll run
his best race.”
Afleet Again, from the first crop of Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet
Alex, became a graded stakes winner in April at Aqueduct when he took the
Withers (G3). He’s been training at Monmouth since just before the meet
started, and has kept up a steady beat in his morning breezes.
The colt will have another Monmouth connection for the mile and an eighth
Haskell in Joe Bravo, who rode for the first time in the Pegasus when they were
beaten less than two lengths by the very promising Afleet Express, also from
the first crop of Afleet Alex.
This running of the Haskell will be exceptionally strong, as it is expected to
draw the horses who ran one-two in both the Kentucky Derby (Super Saver and Ice
Box) and Preakness Stakes (Lookin at Lucky and First Dude). The others expected
for Monmouth’s signature event include Trappe Shot, winner of the Long Branch
Stakes, and Uptowncharlybrown, who has a Monmouth connection through his late
trainer, Alan Seewald.