Barn Notes

The Haskell Invitational - Road To The Hall Of Fame

Posted Saturday, Jul 28, 2012


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, Monmouth 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 “But it’s even more than that.” 

            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 (2002). 

            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 Saratoga Springs. 

            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.  

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