Oceanport, N.J.-The $1 million Haskell Invitational has long
been an elite race for three-year-olds and the Grade 1 event always factors into
which horse will be crowned the divisional champion at year’s end. Moreover,
Park’s signature event is
also an important step on the road to the Hall of Fame.
Among the jockeys, trainers and horses who
have been enshrined in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in
Saratoga Springs, New York, a combined 27 are past winners of
the Haskell. Several more who have posed for photos in the winner’s circle are
safe bets to join them soon.
“Clearly, over the years the Haskell has
established itself as a significant parameter of three-year-old class,” said
John Pricci, the former award-winning racing columnist for Newsday and the
current editor-in-chief of horseraceinsider.com. “But it’s even more than
Of the 44 horses who have won the Haskell,
four have received Thoroughbred racing’s highest honor. The Hall of Famers are
Holy Bull (1994), Skip Away (1996), Serena’s Song (1995) and Point Given (2001).
Not surprisingly, the trainers who
conditioned that quartet are also enshrined.
Warren “Jimmy” Croll, Jr., trainer of 1994
Haskell winner and Horse of the Year Holy Bull, was a three-time Haskell winner
with Al Hattab (1969) and Bet Twice (1987) and Hubert “Sonny” Hine also had
three winners with Skip Trial (1985), Technology (1992) and Skip Away. Serena’s
Song in 1995 became the first filly to win the Haskell. Trained by D. Wayne
Lukas, she remains only one of two females to beat the boys to the wire.
But no trainer has collected more of the
signature gold and mahogany trophies than Bob Baffert. In addition to Point
Given, he sent out the last two consecutive winners Coil (2011) and Lookin At
Lucky (2010) plus Roman Ruler (2005) and War Emblem
The other Haskell-winning, Hall of Fame
trainers are Laz Barrera (Affiliate 1977), Bobby Frankel (Peace Rules 2003),
Jerry Hollendorfer (1989 King Glorious), Claude “Shug” McGaughey (Coronado’s
Quest 1998), Richard Mandella (Dixie Union 2000) and Woodford “Woody” Stephens
(Forty Niner 1988).
Although Todd Pletcher, who took
back-to-bask Haskells with Blue Grass Cat (2006) and Any Given Saturday (2007)
and Steve Asmussen, whose charge Rachel Alexandra (2009) is the only other filly
to win, are not yet members of the Hall of Fame, they are on the fast track to
As for the jockeys, it comes as no surprise
that those who partnered with the Hall of Fame horses have their plaques as
well. They are Mike Smith (Holy Bull), Gary Stevens (Point Given and Serena’s
Song), and Jose Santos (Skip Away).
Braulio Baeza (Wajima 1975), Jerry Bailey
(1992 Technology, 2005 Roman Ruler), Pat Day (Menifee 1999), Kent Desormeaux
(Big Brown 2008), Sandy Hawley (Majestic Light (1976), Chris McCarron (1989 King
Glorious, 1997 Touch Gold), Laffit Pincay, Jr., (Forty Niner 1988), Edgar Prado
(Peace Rules 2003) and Randy Romero (Wavering Monarch 1982) are the other riders
who may lay claim to the Haskell-Hall of Fame double. John Velazquez (Blue Grass
Cat), will be inducted Friday, August 10 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion. The
ceremony is free and open to the public.
Indeed, the Hall of Fame is the home of
champions and it is the Haskell Invitational “Where Champions Prove Their
Greatness” which helps get them there.