Race of the Week 2017
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Racing At The Jersey Shore

Untapable and Bayern will Headline the Haskell

After Monday’s workout on the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga, the connections of Untapable have made an official announcement that they would bring their filly to Monmouth Park for the Haskell Invitational on Sunday, July 27th. That means a field of eight is likely for the Jersey Shore track's marquee event.

“I was very pleased with her, she breezed extremely well,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “Weather permitting, we’ll breeze her again next Monday and then plan to ship her to Monmouth either Wednesday or Thursday of race week.”

Jockey Rosie Napravnik has recovered from her injuries and will be back up on Untapable. Napravnik will make her second appearance in the Haskell when she rides the daughter of Tapit. While Untapable attempts to become the third filly to win the Haskell (Serena’s Song won in 1995 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009), Napravnik will try to become the first female jockey to win the race. She finished second last year while riding Power Broker.

Back in 2009, Asmussen was the trainer of Rachel Alexandra when she beat the boys three times on her way to the Horse of the Year title. This year Untapable is unbeaten in four starts and she most recently dominated the Mother Goose (G1) at Belmont Park.

Untapable will have to share the headlines with Bayern and his trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert has won the Haskell six times since 2001, including three in a row from 2010 to 2012. Most recently Bayern blazed to victory in the Woody Stephens (G2) on Belmont Stakes day while earning a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. Social Inclusion, who finished second in the Stephens, has also been training for the Haskell since then.

Albano, who has only been off the board once in his seven race career, scored a 6½ length victory in the Pegasus Stakes (G3) at Monmouth. “He just had his first work back last Monday,” said trainer Larry Jones, “but that’s just kind of what we do customarily. We figure three little breezes between his last race and the Haskell will be all he needs, so he’ll have another breeze this Monday or Tuesday and will have his final breeze the Tuesday before the Haskell. He gallops a mile and a half every day.”
The first two finishers in Monmouth’s other prep race, the Long Branch Stakes will join the Haskell Field. Donegal Stable’s Irish You Well, who is part of trainer Wayne Catalano’s Jersey Shore string had been eyeing the Haskell all along. “The horse responded very well when he was asked and ran a really good race.  We’re planning to run him in the Haskell.  He’s stabled there and that’s the reason I broke his maiden over there.  He handles the surface really well.”

Just Call Kenny had a strong second place finish just a half-length behind Irish You Well. “Other than winning he ran a perfect race,” trainer Pat McBurney said. “It seemed like he rated for Julian (jockey Pimentel) for his first time on him. Not that he came back super tired or anything, but you have to figure he should be getting tired with it being his first try after the layoff and first time going that distance, but overall he handled it great. And knock on wood, he’s also been acting super after the race.”

Wildcat Red made his mark on the Kentucky Derby Derby Trail earlier in the year. He has three wins and a second at Gulfstream Park in 2014, most recently winning the Quality Road Stakes on June 28th by more than 10 lengths. After that win trainer Jose Garoffalo said, “I’m very happy because the horse gets his confidence back. The rider told me that the horse felt better than ever.  He’s got more power; he’s bigger; he’s stronger; he’s more muscular.”

In the Florida Derby (G1), while finishing second, Wildcat Red fought off his rival General a Rod and then battled head to head to the wire with Constitution.

Trainer Dale Romans sent Medal Count went into the Belmont Stakes with the feeling that his son of Dynaformer would run a big race. Medal Count did just that with a third place finish behind Tonalist and Commissioner, while beating California Chrome. Medal Count is on the list of probable for the Haskell.


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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.


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