It's the single biggest day of racing at Monmouth Park and it kicks off at 12:00pm Eastern. This year's Haskell Invitational features a field of six, led by Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter, but is notable for two horses that are not in the field: Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister and Belmont winner Union Rags. Gemologist makes his first start since a horrible race at the Derby, the only loss in his career. And Dullahan, 3rd in the Derby but out of the top 3 as the favorite in the Belmont, will once again try to win a graded stakes race on dirt.
The Haskell day card at Monmouth includes the G2-Molly Pitcher, G3-Oceanport, G3-Matchmaker, Majestic Light, and Teddy Drone Stakes.
Current conditions at Monmouth Park ar FAST and GOOD (9:25am Update: now FIRM on the lawn). There is a 30% chance of thunderstorms throughout the day.
I'll be following the action at Monmouth Park all morning/afternoon.
9:05am - RACE 1: 6-Fuzzy Muzzle used a late charge along the rail to get by pace setter 1-Taylors Tough in the opener on Haskell Day. Sent to post at even money, Fuzzy Muzzle graduates from N1X condition in his first try after breaking his maiden against $100k state-breds back on July 7th.
9:25am - Turf course has been upgraded to FIRM.
9:33am - RACE 2: Chalky start to the day at Monmouth as 9-Sunshine Rambler, the 7/5 favorite, gets by on the rail to finally get back into the win column after a long losing streak. Sunshine Rambler came into this race just 4-for-42 lifetime and 3-for-26 on the lawn. The price cut from $32k to $25 got the job done today.
10:00am - RACE 3: More chalk rolls home in the third but it's hard not to be impressed with the ease that 3-Ciao Bella dispatched N1X older fillies and mares. Owned by Micheal Tabor and trained by Todd Pletcher, Ciao Bella is by Giant's Causeway out of a French Deputy mare (Bella Bellucci). Very nice filly that could have a big future in store for her if she's able to step up into stakes company in her next start.
10:08am - It's hard to hide my disappointment that 4-Delbata (IRE) was scratched out of race 10. I was going to play her like tomorrow was the end of the world.
10:25am - RACE 4: A big field of juvenile colts and it was the two betting favorites - 6-Pro Prospect and 8-Tour Guide - running one, two at the finish. That makes it four chalk races in a row at Monmouth to start the day.
Pro Prospect is a son of Henny Hughes trained by Edward Plesa. This was his second career start ater finishing third in a MdSpWt at Monmouth on June 23rd.
11:00am - RACE 5: One more turf race before the temp rail comes down for the rest of the card. 8-Osceola Prince set the pace but ran out of gas at the top of the stretch. 1a-Back Away surged to the front at the top of the stretch and held off 4-Ice Pilot in a workmanlike effort against N1X company.
I was looking at 1a-Back Away last night a marveled at what an astute claim this gelding has turned out to be. Originally purchased for $1,000, Back Away has been claimed twice - the first time for $8k and the second for $12.5k when he broke his maiden. Since then, he has won four races (not counting today's score) and banked almost $80,000. Not bad for six months of racing after a $12.5k purchase. He just added another $20k to the haul.
11:35am - RACE 6: 10-Benny Or Local used a late move down the middle of the track to score at a nice price of 12/1 against New Jersey-bred Optional Claimers at a mile on the main track.
After a chalky start to the day, the payouts are starting to loosen up.
The main track seems pretty fair today; we've seen a couple of winners come from down the middle late, and we've seen some speed hold decently along the rail (race 3 sticking out in my mind as the 7/1 shot, 4-My Sweet Emily, finished second to the classy Ciao Bella after setting decent early fractions). So, overall, things appear to be fair.
12:10pm - RACE 7: A head scratching betting race where 3-Brujo de Olieros (BRZ), a first time North American starter from Uruguay, was sent off at 3/2 odds and finished 4th behind winner 6-Gourmet Dinner in the Majestic Light Stakes.
This was the first win for Gourmet Dinner since he won the $1 million Delta Jackpot back in November of 2010. He paid a generous $16.20 for the $2 win.
12:45pm - RACE 8: 7-Charmingmegan steps into allowance company from $16k claimers and wins her second consecutive race at nice odds of around 6/1.
1:10pm - RACE 9: Favorite 6-Royal Currier took command at the top of the stretch and held off 1-Travelin Man at the wire to win the Teddy Drone at 6 furlongs. In deep stretch, it looked like Royal Currier had the race won but Travelin Man made a late surge inside the final 50 yards to just miss the win.
1:42pm - RACE 10: 6-Laughing (IRE) went right to the lead and fought off a challenge at the top of the lane from 8-Silver Screamer and won easily over at late charging 1-Shimmering Moment. Laughing was sent to post as the 6/5 favorite; the chalk has started to return at Monmouth.
2:15pm - RACE 11: 8-Brushed by a Star went right to the lead after leaving the gate en route to a front-running victory in the G2-Molly Pitcher for trainer Grant Forster. Prices are back with a $21.20 winner.
2:50pm - RACE 12: 3-Tune Me In, going off as the longest shot on the board at 25/1, ran huge in the G3-Oceanport to beat favorite Queen'splatekitten and 1-Get Serious at the wire. The $1 Daily Double to Brushed by a Star paid a healthy $295.50. That's decent pocket change if you can get it.
3:45pm - RACE 13: A big, big effort from 3-Paynter as he leaves 4-Gemologist and every one else in the dust on his way to giving Bob Baffert his third straight win in the Haskell Invitational.
3:55pm - RACE 14: Haskell day finishes with a price as 10-Professor Palmer and Ryan Curatolo get up to win the $20k Claiming event at one mile on the Monmouth Park turf course.
Below are the results for all of today's racing action at Monmouth Park. Click on the winner's name for the Instant Chart from Bris.
|2||$25k Claiming||3up||8.0 (T)||9-Sunshine Rambler||$4.80|
|3||Allowance||3up, f&m||8+70||3-Ciao Bella||$2.80|
|5||Allowance||3up||8.5 (T)||1a-Back Away||$9.20|
|6||OC/Allowance||3up||8.0||10-Benny Or Local||$27.20|
|7||Majestic Light||3up||8.5||6-Gourmet Dinner||$16.20|
|8||Allowance||3up, f&m||8.5 (T)||7-Charmingmegan||$15.20|
|9||Teddy Drone||3up||6.0||6-Royal Currier||$6.80|
|10||G3-Matchmaker||3up, f&m||9.0 (T)||6-Laughing (IRE)||$4.40|
|11||G2-Molly Pitcher||3up, f&m||8.5||8-Brushed by a Star||$21.20|
|12||G3- Oceanport||3up||8.5 (T)||3-Tune Me In||$53.60|
|14||$20k Claiming||3up||8.0 (T)||10-Professor Palmer||$36.60|