The Brock Talk

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jim Dandy and Haskell Bring Out Old and New Faces Alike

This weekend has traditionally been one my favorite weekends on the horse racing calendar each year. It is when the top 3-year-olds return to racing after the long, seven weeks between the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in the first week of June; and the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and Resorts Casino and Hotel Haskell Invitational (gr. I) this Saturday. It is the weekend when Triple Crown runners typically begin to return to action to meet those that are new to the sophomore scene – having missed the Triple Crown for one reason or the other.

Some might not characterize the seven weeks between the Belmont and the Haskell and Jim Dandy much of a lull anyhow – especially looking at the fields set to run in the Haskell and Jim Dandy this weekend.

Trainer Steve Asmussen won his second Dwyer Stakes (gr. 2) July 2 with Dominus, who ran like he was well-named, winning by some two lengths after leading from the start. Asmussen stays in New York with Dominus who makes his next start Saturday in the Jim Dandy. Peter Pan Stakes (gr. 2) winner Alteration and Matt Winn Stakes (gr. 3) winner Scotus are two other post-Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. 1) stakes winners who will also join the fray in the Jim Dandy.

But the Jim Dandy also features two Triple Crown veterans in Stay Thirsty (second in the Belmont behind Ruler on Ice last out); and Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Brilliant Speed, (third in the Belmont in his last race. So there is plenty of quality for the Jim Dandy with acts as the local Saratoga prep race for the Travers Stakes (gr. I) to be run later this meeting at the Spa.

Past winners of the 1-1/8 mile Jim Dandy include Arts and Letters (1969), Affirmed (’78), Conquistador Cielo (’82), Louis Quatorze (’96), Favorite Trick (’98) and Street Sense in 2007 so there is plenty of quality and history to keep the Jim Dandy on the list of important races for 3-year-olds.

Two Triple Crown race winners are headed for the 1-1/8 mile Haskell at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Preakness (gr. 1) winner Shackleford (photo above) and Belmont winner Ruler On Ice are both expected to enter the Haskell and a win by either, perhaps establishes them as the favorite for champion 3-year-old colt or gelding at year’s end. Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom was diagnosed with a small fracture to the cannon bone of his left hind leg and will be out of action for an unknown period of time.

Astrology, third in the Preakness; and ninth-place Derby finisher Pants On Fire, are two other Triple Crown alumni headed to the Haskell. Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire, also won the Pegasus (gr. III), the main local prep for the Haskell June 2, defeating Concealed Identity, also back at Monmouth Park for the Haskell.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who won his fourth Haskell with Lookin at Lucky last year, is back with Coil, winner of the grade 3 Affirmed at Hollywood Park in June before being edged by longshot Dreamy Kid in the Swaps (gr. 2) July 9, also at Hollywood.

The Haskell may not have the prestige the Derby, Preakness and Belmont carry, but like the Jim Dandy, there is plenty of history to solidify the importance of Monmouth Park’s signature race. Rachel Alexandra (2009), Big Brown (2008), War Emblem (2002), Point Given (2001), Skip Away (1996), Holy Bull (’94), Bet Twice (’87) and Our Native (’73) are among the Haskell winners’ fraternity.

It is also that time of year when old faces from the Triple Crown and before begin to return while the boys of summer like Scotus, Coil and Dominus have a chance to show their talent against the bigger names.

I again am looking forward to one of my favorites weekends of racing.

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