Hello Haskell, My Old Friend

Haskell Invitational 2011


Hello Haskell, my old friend. It's almost time for you again...


A child of the Garden State, there is no race so deep in my being as Monmouth's signature mile and an eighth. I still get goosebumps begotten of great Haskell's past, like the day Majestic Light scorched the summer earth, or the way Five Star Flight kept Lord Avie's advances at bay. Wise Times rallied like I thought he could, and Holy Bull rolled like everyone knew he would. Coronado's Quest had Victory Gallop's number, while Skip Away followed in his daddy's footsteps to the wire. There was Forty Niner, and Point Given, and sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still see the '87 edition in vivid colors of yellow, orange, and blue. My emotions of that day come rushing back as Bet Twice, Alysheba, and Lost Code leave it all on the shore oval for their fans to see. And then of course, there was my sweet Rachel.


Hello Haskell, my old friend. It's almost time for you again...


1. Pants on Fire (Jump Start-Cabo de Noche, by Cape Town)   5-2/entry  Taken off the Triple Crown trail after firing and then tiring in the Derby stretch, he was rested and returned to his home track. The Pegasus win was further evidence of his improvement and his sharpness in the mornings has created a buzz. The one they will all have to beat to win the Haskell.

2. Shackleford (Foresty-Oatsee, by Unbridled)   2-1  Hard to knock this guy's effort in four straight difficult races. The Belmont may have been a little too far to show his best, but in a Derby defeat and then a Preakness victory, he displayed the courage needed to be included on the short list of top sophomores of 2011.
3. Coil (Point Given-Eversmile, by Theatrical)   4-1  Do not be fooled by his narrow loss in the Swaps, this Baffert runner is full of talent. He proved a little hard to handle for his rider that day, but the defeat should have him ready to fire his best shot at Monmouth, as he hopes to emulate his sire ten years later.

4. Rattlesnake Bridge (Tapit-Prall Street, by Cherokee Run)   5-1   The Haskell is not always easy to win for the come from behind types, but this one is getting better with every start, and his Long Branch win was better than it looks like on paper. There is enough speed in here to think he will be a major threat to pick up the pieces.

5. Ruler On Ice (Roman Ruler-Champagne Glow, by Saratoga Six)   5-2/entry  The second half of the Hall/Breen entry has not run since his surprising win in the Belmont. Although that win was a step-up, this son of a Haskell winner has run consistently well in his career, but might be better suited for the ten furlong Travers.

6. Concealed Identity (Smarty Jones-Richetta, by Polish Numbers)  12-1  He was not able to do much in the Preakness as a longshot, but then came back with a very good effort in the Pegasus. If he gets a tougher early pace to run at in the Haskell, the Dean Gaudet trainee well could be a live one at solid odds.

7. Astrology (A.P. Indy-Quiet Eclipse, by Quiet American)  10-1
Rode the rails at Pimlico to finish an admirable third in the Middle Jewel, but then threw in a real stinker under the lights at Prairie Meadows. Which is the real Astrology? My gut tells me somewhere in between which means this race will be tough.

8. J J's Lucky Train (Silver Train-Delta Sensation, by Thunder Gulch)  15-1
I know a couple of closers are really hoping that this one makes the starting gate to liven up the early fractions. It would be a pretty big surprise though if he stuck around for the final furlong of Monmouth's biggest race.

[Will Shackleford move to the head of the sophomore class with a win in the Haskell? See where he stands now on HRN's 3yo Power Rankings]


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Older Comments about Hello Haskell, My Old Friend...

I wish Mucho Macho Man was running.
Brian, the 1:47 that Majestic Light ran in 1976 still stands as the track record tied only once by the great race that Bet Twice ran in 1987. Next closest to that time was 1:47.21 by RACHEL! Majestic Light loved Monmouth as he followed up with another brilliant race at the Shore the next summer in what is now called the Iselin Handicap. For this year I don't know how to interpret that they sent Rattlesnake Bridge back to Belmont for McLaughlin to check him out. Sounds worrisome to me.
Looks good, doesn't it guys ... Hope to see another great Ernie Munick video to commemorate the occasion.
Love the track, really love the people at the track. Haskell candidates...ehhhh
Wow, Zip this is turning out to be quite the race! LOVE the Haskell too!!!
Thank you Matt ... I wish I could be there as well. It is at a tough time of year for me, but, I will not let too many years go by without another Haskell. How many horses do you think would have touched Majestic Light on that afternoon 35 years ago? You and me both, Scott!
I think Pants On Fire is going to have a HUGE summer! Starting with this race.
I wish you could join me at the Haskell this year. I will try and get you a 2011 Haskell Hat. Baffert loves the Haskell and the Monmouth Park management loves Baffert. I think the Monmouth surface is perfect for Coil's running style. Beware if Coil comes to NJ. I, too, loved Majestic Light. His 1976 victory was so exciting to me when I was a young horseplayer!

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