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HASKELL INVITATIONAL STAKES 2011

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Things looks good at Monmouth Park for today's Grade 1 Haskell Stakes (post time 5:43 Eastern, TV: ABC) featuring the winners of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes - Shackleford and Ruler On Ice.  So far there are no scratches to report in the Haskell (Monmouth Park Changes) and the weather looks like it will be perfect.

Personally, I don't have much of an opinion on this race given the way that most of the three-year-old races have gone this year.  Ruler On Ice was flattered by Stay Thirsty's win in the Jim Dandy yesterday but I still wonder (like I did with Stay Thirsty) if his big effort was due to the track at Belmont that day.  If it wasn't, then he certainly fits with this group, and he's likely to be available at a decent price.

If Shackleford has moved forward from his Triple Crown races, he is the legitimate horse to beat.  But being the "horse to beat" in the three-year-old division in 2011 usually means that you're going to come up short. The nine furlongs is probably the ideal distance for Shack so we'll see if he turns in a performance as solid as his Preakness, Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby trio.

Coil is the wildcard of the group - how does he handle the dirt for the first time?  Baffert has him working very fast in the mornings and he's shown a lot of early speed on the synthetics, but there's also a lot of speed-types in this race.  How he adapts to the surface and pace will be key.

In the end, betting this race is heavily dependent on the how the board shakes out prior to post time.  That being said, if Coil were to drift up a bit from his 3/1 odds (to perhaps 7/2 or even 4/1), I'd be inclined to give him a small piece of action...but I don't know that I love anybody in this race.

Haskell Card Entries

PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 Coil M. Garcia B. Baffert 3/1
2 Joe Vann J. Bravo T. Pletcher 15/1
3 Pants On Fire E. Trujillo K. Breen 4/1
4 Concealed Identity C. DeCarlo E. Guadet 12/1
5 Shackleford J. Castanon D. Romans 5/2
6 Ruler On Ice J. Valdivia, Jr. K. Breen 4/1
7 J J's Lucky Train P. Lopez W. Anderson 20/1
8 Astrology J. Leparoux S. Asmussen 9/2