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Monmouth Park ready to celebrate Haskell’s golden year

SCOTT FRIEDMAN

Monmouth Park is gearing up for the 50th $1 million Betfair.com Haskell Invitational on July 30.

Monmouth Park’s biggest race of the year appears to be even bigger, as a new race and more activities have been added to the schedule this summer.

The Betfair.com Haskell Invitational is an annual race that showcases some of the best race horses in the country. The event is a Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In event. The winner earns an automatic berth to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in Del Mar in California on Nov. 4.

NBC will broadcast the Haskell at the Oceanport track from 5-6 p.m. Post time is 12 p.m. for the races.

Here is a summary of what is on tap.

The greatest Haskell horse of all-time

The new addition and one of the featured events is the simulated “All Haskell” race that puts the 12 best Haskell race horses ever run in a virtual race against each other.

The result will produce the greatest Haskell horse ever. The winner will be announced on July 30.

According to a press release from the race track, the contenders are Skip Away (1996), Holy Bull (1994), Big Brown (2008), Forty Niner (1988), Serena’s Song (1995), Point Given (2001), Bet Twice (1987), Wajima (1975), American Pharoah (2015), War Emblem (2002), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Majestic Light (1976).

The race will be shown throughout the week leading up to the Haskell on July 30.

 

A homecoming for a local hero

Not only is it the golden anniversary of the Haskell race, but the invitational’s namesake, Amory L. Haskell, will have a special family member competing for the crown. Haskell’s daughter, Isabelle de Tomaso, will race in the Haskell, riding the local favorite, Irish War Cry.

Irish War Cry is a New Jersey-bred son of Curlin, who was born in Colts Neck, which is located near Monmouth Park.

Irish War Cry won the Wood Memorial earlier this year and raced in the Kentucky Derby. Irish War Cry was also a runner-up in this year’s Belmont Stakes.

The contenders

Girvin, the prized 3-year-old and a multiple graded stakes winner, will compete in the Haskell. Girvin took home both the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds on his way to a run in the Kentucky Derby earlier this year. 

From six career starts, Girvin sports a record of 3-2-0 with nearly $1 million in earnings. The Kentucky-bred horse is a winner at the mile and an eighth Haskell distance, according to the press release.

Along with Girvin and Irish War Cry, another solid contender to win the Haskell is Classic Empire, a champion 2-year-old and winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and this year’s Arkansas Derby. Classic Empire is conditioned by Mark Casse. 

Don’t count out these horses

Battle of Midway, who was third in the Kentucky Derby, captured the Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita on June 24.

Timeline and Practical Joke both come from the Chad Brown barn. Timeline is a perfect four-for-four and a winner at Monmouth after capturing the Pegasus the last time out, while Practical Joke won last year’s Champagne Stakes and claimed the Dwyer at Belmont on July 8. 

McCracken is the most recent winner of the Matt Winn Stakes. The Ian Wilkes trainee is a multiple graded stakes winner. 

American Anthem, who is trained by Bob Baffert, captured the Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Baffert has won a record eight Haskell races.

Hence is the winner of the Sunland Derby on the road to his run in the Kentucky Derby. Hence most recently won the Iowa Derby on July 7.

Impressive Edge, a Dale Romans trainee, finished third in the Iowa Derby and the Peter Pan Stakes.

The leading ladies

On July 29, Monmouth Park will feature the annual Ladies Day. The day will feature a Lilly Pulitzer fashion show, a hat contest and other events. Proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Post time for the day’s race will be at 12:50 p.m.

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