Story by Bozz

(Cue up the “call to the post”) This Sunday is Monmouth Park Racetrack’s version of the Kentucky Derby. It’s the 50th betfair.com Haskell Invitational, one of thoroughbred racing’s top grade 1 races for three year-olds. 

Here is the seven horse field for the 50th Haskell:

PPHorseOddsOwnerTrainerJockey
1Irish War Cry5-2Isabelle de TomasoH. Graham MotionRajiv Maragh
2Battle of Midway5-1Don Alberto/Winstar Farm LLCJerry HollendorferFlavien Prat
3Timeline3-1Woodford Racing LLCChad BrownJavier Castellano
4Practical Joke4-1William H. LawrenceChad BrownJoel Rosario
5McCraken9-2Janis R. WhithamIan R. WilkesBrian Hernandez
6Hence12-1Calumet FarmSteve AsmussenPaco Lopez
7Girvin6-1Brad GradyJoe SharpRobby Albarado

Among the favorites is Jersey-bred Irish War Cry. He will be making his first start since finishing second to Tapwrit in the Belmont Stakes on June 10. That means Irish War Cry’s owner, Red Bank native Isabelle de Tomaso has a chance to win the race named in honor of her late father. Amory L. Haskell served as President and Chairman of the Monmouth Park Jockey Club from 1946 until his death in 1966.

Personally, this Sunday will mark the twelfth Haskell Day I’ve attended. The first being 30 years ago in 1987 when Bet Twice held on to beat Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba. The following year, I got to witness another close contest when Forty Niner edged out Seeking The Gold for the 1988 victory. While working at Monmouth Park in the mid-1990s, I got to see 1994 winner Holy Bull, who went on to earn horse of the year honors, 1995 winner and filly Serena’s Song and 1996 winner Skip Away. And of course, there’s the 2015 Haskell starring Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Yours truly and Mrs. Bozz were among the 60,000+ strong in attendance. This day was extra special because it was American Pharoah’s 1st race since winning the Triple Crown. We sat in the Grandstand Balcony section in rickety old seats which most likely had not been occupied in years. A year ago we saw the Desormeaux brothers (trainer Keith and jockey Kent) win the Haskell with Exaggerator. But that certainly didn’t live up to the 2015 Haskell, how could it?

Jockey Victor Espinoza waving to the 60,000 strong after winning the 2015 Haskell with American Pharoah (Tom Bozza, Townsquare Media NJ)

The Haskell Invitational will be race # 12 in the program. In addition to the Haskell, there are five other stakes races on Sunday at Monmouth Park: WinStar Matchmaker Stakes, Monmouth Stakes, Monmouth Cup, Molly Pitcher Stakes and John J. Reilly Handicap.

If you plan to go to Haskell day, get there early. Parking is $10 ($20 for valet). If you don’t want to deal with parking or traffic, you can take the train to/from Monmouth Park. You can view the train schedules at http://www.njtransit.com. The gates open at 10:00 a.m. General admission for the Grandstand is $8 and $10 for the Clubhouse. TV coverage begins at 5 p.m. on NBC. Post-time for the Haskell is 5:45 p.m. If you’re going to Monmouth Park on Sunday, have a great time!!