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Verrazano, Oxbow, Power Broker Square Off At Monmouth In Sunday's $1 Million William Hill Haskell Invitational

Friday, July 26, 2013

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Thoroughbred racing’s 3-year-old championship season goes into high gear at Monmouth Park on Sunday with a field of seven contesting the 46th running of the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational (G1), signature event of the track’s summer season.

            The Haskell, which has produced seven divisional champions the past 12 years, including Horse of the Year 2009 Rachel Alexandra, has drawn some of the best sophomores in training, including Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow; Kentucky Derby second Golden Soul, and the nearly perfect Verrazano, who has won five of six lifetime starts.

            Trainer Bob Baffert, who has won an unprecedented six runnings of the Haskell, including the last three in a row, comes to town with Power Broker, who is back in top form as his workouts show.

The Haskell field, in post position order:

            Pick Six Racing’s Vyjack, Paco Lopez, 12-1; Crossed Sabres Farm’s Pick of the Litter, Jesus Castanon, 15-1; Charles E. Fipke’s Golden Soul, Robby Albarado, 8-1; Gary and Mary West’s Power Broker, Rosie Napravnik, 3-1; Calumet Farm’s Oxbow, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Repole Stable’s Micromanage, Joe Bravo, 6-1, and Verrazano, owned by Let’s Go Stable, Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier & Derrick Smith, John Velazquez, 9-5.

The mile and an eighth Haskell heads a card of 14 races on Sunday, and is the richest of seven stakes events to be run during the afternoon. Other graded events on the card are the $200,000 Molly Pitcher (Grade 2) for fillies and mares, which goes as the sixth race; the $200,000 Monmouth Cup (Grade 2) for older horses at a mile and a sixteenth, which goes as the ninth race; the $150,000 Matchmaker (Grade 3) for fillies and mares on turf, set as the fifth race, and the $150,000 Oceanport (Grade 3), for older horses on turf, which will be the 12th race.

            Post time for the Haskell, which goes as the 13th race, is set at 6:20 p.m. The race will be aired as part of the full-card Monmouth television coverage by the TVG network.

            Admission gates will open at 10 a.m. The first race will go off at 12 noon. Admission to Monmouth on Haskell Day will be $5 for the grandstand and $8 for the clubhouse, with seniors (55 and older) admitted to the grandstand for $3 and the clubhouse for $5. Children 12 and under are free.

            All paid admissions will receive a free 2013 Haskell cap while supplies last.

            In addition, all military personnel, in uniform or with military ID, will be admitted free and will receive a free cap.

            The day’s wagering program will include two special wagers with guaranteed pools. There will be a 50-cent Pick 4 on races 10-13 with a guaranteed pool of $250,000, and there will be a 50-cent Pick 5 on races 8-12 with a guaranteed pool of $100,000.

            The first stakes event on the card is the $100,000 Teddy Drone, which goes as the third race. The other stakes event to be decided is the $100,000 Regret (11th).

            The Molly Pitcher, one of the most famous events on the Monmouth schedule, will have its 68th running on Sunday. The mile and a sixteenth event drew a field of six, including stakes winners Funny Proposition and Joyful Victory.

            The Monmouth Cup will be having its first running on Haskell Day this year. It drew a field of seven, including Grade 1 winner Take Charge Indy.

The Matchmaker, a unique event which offers stallion seasons to the first three finishers in addition to the purse, will be having its 47th running. The nine-furlong turf test drew nine fillies and mares.

The Oceanport, being run for the 67th time, attracted a field of 11, including Tune Me In, winner of the 2012 edition of the race.

Verrazano has been established the 9-5 morning line favorite because of his smashing effort in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth on June 16, when he overpowered his field to win by more than nine lengths.

Trained by two-time Haskell winner Todd Pletcher, the More Than Ready colt was unbeaten in four starts going into the Kentucky Derby. In that race, he ran close up to a hot pace and tired in the stretch to finish 14th of 19. The Pegasus was his first start since that effort and marked a return to top form for Verrazano.

Oxbow, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who won the 1995 Haskell with Serena’s Song, could not overcome a rough stretch trip in the Derby and ran sixth. He got his revenge in the Preakness Stakes, however, when he led every step to score by nearly two lengths. In the subsequent Belmont Stakes, the Awesome Again colt ran second to palace Malice after contesting the pace the entire mile and a half.

Golden Soul, a dedicated stretch runner trained by Dallas Stewart, stayed on the rail in the Kentucky Derby and was up in time to be a surprise 34-1 second to Orb, just two and a half lengths behind. The Perfect Soul colt never got untracked in the Belmont Stakes, finishing ninth of 14.

Power Broker was on the Triple Crown trail early this year, but derailed when he finished a poor fifth in the Santa Anita Derby. Since then, Baffert has sent him out to win an allowance race at Churchill Downs and an overnight stakes at Belmont Park on June 8. His most recent workouts at Del Mar have indicated an improving colt, and Baffert was encouraged to send him to Monmouth to seek a seventh Haskell victory.

Micromanage, a son of Medaglia d’Oro trained by Pletcher, has a perfect record at Monmouth. He won his seasonal debut here in May, finished second to Power Broker in the Easy Goer at Belmont on June 8, and then turned in a dramatic performance to run away with the Long Branch Stakes here on July 7.

Vyjack, trained by Rudy Rodiguez, was the star of the winter season at Aqueduct, but has not won since taking the Gotham Stakes (G3) in March.

Pick of the Litter, a lightly raced colt by Kitten’s Joy, was third in the Lexington Stakes (G3) last out for trainer Dale Romans, who sent out Shackleford to run second in the 2011 Haskell.

 


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