The Brock Talk

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Haskell Has Skins As Eclipse Award Barometer

With a stellar and competitive field assembling on the Jersey shore for the $1 million IZOD Haskell Invitational (gr. 1) Sunday, perhaps the best bet of the race will be that the Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding of 2010 will come out of Monmouth Park’s marquee event.

In a Triple Crown that saw no horse win more than one race and Belmont Stakes (gr. 1) winner Drosselmeyer on the sidelines through August, there is no clear cut favorite for 3-year-old championship title.

The $1 million Haskell at 1-1/8 miles is expected to feature Kentucky Derby (gr. 1) presented by Yum! Brands winner Super Saver (top photo), Preakness (gr. 1) winner Lookin at Lucky, Florida Derby (gr. 1) winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box and First Dude, second in the Preakness. So other than Drosselmeyer and Belmont second-place finisher Fly Down, who is headed for the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. 2) Saturday at Saratoga, the current 3-year-old crop is well represented in the Haskell.

There are also a slew of other Haskell contenders that could still be champion honorees with potential wins left this year in the Travers Stakes (gr. 1) later in August at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. 1) at Churchill Downs November 5. A late season hot streak by Uptowncharlybown or Trappe Shot would give them credentials to at least enter the discussion.

History also makes a pretty good case for the Haskell producing a divisional champion. In the previous 42 runnings of the race, 15 Haskell starters have gone to become the Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding, two have been named Champion 3-Year-Old Filly; and five of those 17 have been named Horse of the Year at year’s end.

The 2009 Haskell would go on to produce the most decorated group as winner Rachel Alexandra became the Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and Horse of the Year while Summer Bird, second to Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell, was named the Champion 3-Year-Old Colt.

Serena’s Song in 1995, is the only other filly to win the Haskell Invitational and she was also given the Eclipse Award that year as the Champion 3-Year-Old Filly.

Champion production has been going one for nearly 40 years in Haskell going back to 1974 when Kentucky Derby winner Little Current went on to become Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or gelding after finishing second to Holding Pattern in the Haskell. A year later, Wajima won the Haskell and the championship.

In 1983, Slew O’Gold won the Champion 3-Year-Old male title after finishing sixth in the Haskell behind Preakness winner Deputed Testamony. Two years later Spend A Buck became the first future Horse of the Year to start in the Haskell, finishing second to Skip Trial at Monmouth Park.

In 1994 Holy Bull won the Horse of the Year and divisional honors after winning the Haskell but it was the decade of the oughts when Eclipse Award winners began coming off the Haskell assembly line. From 2001 through last year, seven Haskell starters have been named divisional champions including and Point Given (2001) (photo right), Curlin (2007) and Rachel Alexandra all also received the gold trophy for Horse of the Year.

Big Brown (2008), Funny Cide (2003) and War Emblem (2002), all Kentucky Derby winners, were the other divisional champions from the decade along with Summer Bird and Rachel Alexandra. Big Brown and War Emblem were also Haskell winners while Funny Cide was third behind the speedy Peace Rule at Monmouth Park.

So this year’s Haskell Invitational, like most, is more than just a rematch of some Triple Crown contenders, locals and late bloomers. It is perhaps a pre-cursor to the road to championship.

1 comment:

John said...

Lookin At Lucky is my pick to win the Haskell. I don't know what race will follow after that for the colt, but I think he'll make a statement in the BC Classic.

I'd have to say he's also my early pick for divisional honors, although as you mentioned, there are some others who could contend for that honor.

The Haskell is going to be a great race, with notable horses. I'm anxious for Sunday. It's an exciting way to start a new month.