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Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Haskell Invitational takes place at Monmouth Park on the Jersey shore this upcoming weekend. Featuring the nation's top 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, the Haskell has been won by racing greats such as Horse of the Year Point Given, Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, Vox Populi Award winner Paynter, and most recently Bayern, who went on to win the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic. Don't miss the glamour, excitement, and passion of Monmouth Park's premier race!
With less than a week left until Monmouth Park's signature event, the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational, the field continues to take shape. A diverse field of competitors will take on Triple Crown winner American Pharoah on Aug. 2.
The Zayat Stables color-bearer became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years with his victory in the Belmont Stakes having taken the Preakness and Kentucky Derby prior to that. Last year's 2-year-old Champion will enter the William Hill Haskell having won seven races in a row.
American Pharoah - Coming off an historic victory in the Belmont Stakes on June 6, the Princess of the Nile colt has been training brilliantly at Del Mar in recent weeks. Owned by Teaneck resident Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah has won four straight Grade 1 races - Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, and has six Grade 1 wins for his career and $4,530,300 for his career. Trainer Bob Baffert will be looking for his eighth victory in the Haskell, and his fifth in six years.
In a recent workout American Pharoah breezed four furlongs over the fast Del Mar main track in :48 4/5 with Martin Garcia aboard, his third work in the last 10 days. Today's morning move comes off his work just five days prior on July 23, where he went over the Del Mar dirt in 1:11 for six furlongs.
"We are just trying to keep him in good form," said Bob Baffert, who conditions the horse for Zayat Stables LLC. "My job is to keep him healthy and ready for anything in front of him. The horse tells us when he is ready."
Baffert recently stated after a workout "He's getting faster. I'm getting goosebumps."
Competitive Edge - Finished last in the G2 Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day at 2-5, but prior to that was extremely impressive winning his first four including the G1 Hopeful as a 2-year-old. The Haskell will be his first start around two turns, but he's by a Kentucky Derby winner in Super Saver. Would expect to see him close to the pace on the stretch out for trainer Todd Pletcher who certainly knows what it takes to win the Haskell.
Keen Ice - Finished third in the Belmont Stakes after a troubled 7th-place finish in the Derby. Only has a maiden score to his resume but he's faced top competition throughout his career. He's a proven closer, but there does appear to be a decent amount of early speed in this Haskell. Trainer Dale Romans certainly is no stranger to winning big races.
Bet American Pharoah with OffTrackBetting.com
Mr. Jordan - Just missed in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby back in March and certainly hasn't done much wrong in all of 2015 minus a sixth-place finish as result of a DQ down at Gulfstream. Tough trip two back when second in the Easy Goer, then overpowered Souper Colossal to take the Long Branch over the Monmouth dirt last time out. All of the connections (owner, trainer, jockey) have won the Haskell before and are no strangers to running big races on the biggest stage.
Stanford - won two straight races in the summer of 2012 - both at Belmont Park and was out of racing for nine months. He looked good at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 - a win in the 2014 Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion May 11 followed a second in the 2014 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and a two race win streak - the 2013 Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct November 16 and the overnight Bowl Game Stakes at Belmont Park that October. He had a terrific win March 28 in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes in March but it followed an eighth in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf February 7 and a seventh in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Last time out he finished a disappointing fifth in this year's Man o' War Stakes. Imagining has been hit and miss in his career and has placed in just one of his last four starts - that being a win two starts back. John Velazquez has been tabbed to ride as Imagining searches for a little consistency.
Tekton - Can't knock those last two races as this son of Bernardini followed a 10 3/4-length allowance win at Pimlico with a gutsy second to Mr. Jordan in the G3 Pegasus last out over this track. Has shown the ability to sit just off or set the pace and is clearly a 3-year-old on the improve. Will face his toughest test to date in the Haskell, but he's a colt certainly heading in the right direction.
Top Clearance - The lightly-raced colt, trained by Wayne Catalano, figures to be the longest shot in the field. The son of Majestic Warrior has just four career starts, none in stakes company, but is coming off back-to-back wins. He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on June 13, and came back with a win in an allowance/option claiming event at Monmouth Park on July 11 at a mile-and-1/16th.
The 2015 running of the Haskell Invitational marks the 48th renewal of the race named for the 1st president and chairman of the Monmouth Park Jockey Club, Amory Lawrence Haskell. Amory L. Haskell was born in New York City in 1893. Following his graduation from Princeton University in 1916, he began a business career with the New Jersey Zinc Company. That was interrupted by two years with the Naval Aviation Service in World War I.
After his tour of duty, Haskell joined the General Motors Corporation and rose to the position of vice president in charge of the company's export division. He left General Motors to form Triplex Safety Glass Company and was president and chairman of the board when he sold it.
Shortly before World War II, after several years of intense lobbying in which Haskell played a prominent role, an amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution was approved by referendum, legalizing pari-mutuel wagering for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. Haskell then organized a group of prominent New Jersey residents to build a modern Thoroughbred racetrack in Monmouth County. Appointed president and chairman of Monmouth Park Jockey Club in 1945, he guided that organization through its opening in 1946 and continued at the helm until his death on April 12, 1966.
In 1968, the Monmouth Park Directors honored his memory with the Amory L. Haskell Handicap, a race for older horses. In 1981, the Haskell name was transferred to a mile and an eighth invitational for the nation's top three-year-olds. As a tribute to the man honored by this race, Amory L. Haskell's daughters, Hope Haskell-Jones and Anne Haskell-Ellis, present the Haskell trophy each year.