2017 Haskell Invitational Contenders
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IRISH WAR CRY (Odds 5/2) - PP1
CONFIRMED - This year's golden anniversary could prove a storybook tale for the race's namesake, Amory L. Haskell. His daughter Isabelle de Tomaso has one of the likely favorites for the race in Irish War Cry, a New Jersey-bred son of Curlin who was born just a few miles from Monmouth Park in Colts Neck.
Irish War Cry carries the flag of the home team having been bred right here in the Garden State by the daughter of the race's namesake. The G2 Wood Memorial winner bounced back from a 10th-place Derby finish to run a solid second in the Belmont behind Tapwrit. Connections have been pointing to this race for a long time and are most likely rooting for an outer post to be able to employ a stalk and pounce running style.
Trainer Graham Motion believes that cutting back to nine furlongs and stepping onto a track known to play kind to horses that race prominently, will serve Irish War Cry well this weekend.
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh | Trainer: H. Graham Motion
BATTLE OF (Odds 5/1) - PP2
CONFIRMED - Nearly three decades since winning Monmouth Park's biggest race, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will look to do it again when he sends Battle of Midway to Oceanport, New Jersey for the July 30, Haskell Invitational.
Still lightly-raced son of Smart Strike will be making career start number seven in the Haskell. Was on the pace and hung on well to be third in the Kentucky Derby and followed that up with a wire-to-wire score in the G3 Affirmed at Santa Anita. He's also shown the ability to stalk so post position might play a big role in where he finds himself early on. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer certainly knows how to ship cross country and win.
Jockey: Flavien Prat | Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
GIRVIN (Odds 6/1) - PP7
CONFIRMED - Only finish worse than second came in the Kentucky Derby where he was roughed at the start. Bounced back nicely to just miss in the G3 Ohio Derby. A multiple Grade 2 winner over the winter in New Orleans. He'll be hoping for some speed up front to run into and he just might get it.
On his road to a start in the Kentucky Derby, the son of the Malibu Moon mare Catch the Moon won the two main preps at the Fair Grounds, the Grade 2 Risen Star and the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, both in late-running fashion.
Girvin will have a new set of hands guiding him when in the Haskell as jockey Robby Albarado is set to be in the irons, trainer Joe Sharp confirmed July 25. Girvin was ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith in both the May 6 Kentucky Derby, and his recent runner-up finish in the June 24 Ohio Derby (G3).
Jockey: Robby Albarado | Trainer: Joe Sharp
HENCE (Odds 12/1) - PP6
CONFIRMED - Beautiful-looking son of Street Boss notched his third-career victory last out in the G3 Iowa Derby after finishing 11th in the Derby and 9th in the Preakness. He's developed into a deep closer but might have a fast pace to run into. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is no stranger to the Haskell stage.
Hence broke his maiden in his fourth career start earlier in the year over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park before grabbing his first win in a graded stakes in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park on the road to the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey: Mike Smith | Trainer: Steve Asmussen
McCRAKEN (Odds 9/2) - PP5
CONFIRMED - The son of Ghostzapper was back to his winning ways last out in the G3 Matt Winn after his only two blemishes of his career in the Blue Grass and Kentucky Derby. Another Haskell runner that wouldn't mind a fast pace upfront and he's shown a pretty explosive kick in his five career victories. Yet another with a big chance in a wide-open Haskell.
Jockey: Brian Hernandez, Jr. | Trainer: Ian Wilkes
PRACTICAL JOKE (Odds 4/1) - PP4
CONFIRMED - A four-time one-turn winner has never successfully conquered two bends but did run well enough to finish second in the Fountain of Youth and Blue Grass and 5th in the Kentucky Derby. Hard to bet against anything trainer Chad Brown sends out these days and these connections absolutely know how to win big races.
Practical Joke made his first start since his fifth place finish in the Kentucky Derby on July 8 in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park when he sat off the early pace and saved ground along the rail on the turn, before switching to the far outside and powering home to a two-length victory.
The colt by Into Mischief out of the Distorted Humor mare Halo Humor was a multiple Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old, winning both the Hopeful at Saratoga and the Champagne at Belmont, before finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Jockey: Joel Rosario | Trainer: Chad Brown
TIMELINE (Odds 3/1) - PP3
CONFIRMED -A perfect four-for-four and the only one of the perspective Haskell runners to have a start over the Monmouth Park dirt. His connections are top-notch and while this son of Hard Spun has yet to tackle the big boys, he certainly looks to have all the talent in the world. The son of Hard Spun out of the Empire Maker mare Azorina was triumphant in his debut over the Monmouth Park main track when he took the field wire-to-wire to score a three and a half length victory in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes on June 18. His other graded stakes win came on May 13 in the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes over the sloppy going at Belmont Park.
Owned by Woodford Racing LLC, Timeline has worked three times since his run in the Pegasus. The latest breeze came on July 16 when he went five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at Belmont Park, the eighth fastest of the 22 that went the distance on the day.
Jockey: Javier Castellano | Trainer: Chad Brown
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