2013-07-25 / Sports

Baffert going for fourth straight victory in the Haskell Invitational

Whether trainer Bob Baffert can maintain his ownership of the Haskell Invitational will be on the minds of everyone when Monmouth Park’s $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational is raced on July 28.

Baffert will be looking for an unprecedented fourth consecutive and seventh overall Haskell win when he sends Power Broker into the gate in one of the year’s biggest races for 3-year-olds.

Power Broker was a wire-to-wire winner of the Easy Goer Stakes his last time out. Power Broker, who broke his maiden last fall in the Grade 1 Front Runner at Santa Anita, brings a two-race win streak into the Haskell.

Power Broker will have his work cut out for him, as the Haskell has again attracted a loaded field of some of the best 3-year-olds in the country. The field is taking shape with Preakness winner Oxbow, Wood Memorial winner Verrazano, Kentucky Derby runnerup Golden Soul and the most recent addition, Long Branch Stakes winner Micromanage, all pointing to the mile and 1/8 Grade 1 race.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who sent out fellow Hall of Famer Serena’s Song to take the 1995 Haskell, will be back with Oxbow, who enters the Haskell off a runner-up effort in the Belmont Stakes on June 8. The Calumet Farm color-bearer has earned over $1 million in his 12-race career.

The Preakness win marked a big comeback for Lukas this year. It was his first Triple Crown win in 13 years and it was his 14th overall, the most of any trainer all-time in the Triple Crown races. A Haskell win would be another marquee win in 2013 for Lukas.

Verrazano, who entered the Kentucky Derby a perfect 4-for-4, enters the Haskell off an impressive front-running score in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 16. The colt by More Than Ready has won five of his six starts, all with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez in the irons.

Verrazano brings a local rooting interest. Co-owners Kevin Scatuorchio and Bryan Sullivan live in Red Bank and Rumson, respectively. Theirs is Lets Go Stable. Trainer Dallas Stewart will be represented by his first Haskell starter with his expected entrant, Golden Soul. The Charles Fipke-homebred was a hard-charging second to Orb in the Kentucky Derby and will be making his first start since the Belmont Stakes.

Micromanage owner Mike Repole is excited to have an entry in the Haskell and believes the added distance will help his horse.

Others considering the Haskell for their next start include Swaps winner Chief Havoc and Preakness third-place finisher Mylute.

Baffert’s streak began in 2010 when Lookin At Lucky went to the winner’s circle. Coil captured the 2011 race and Paynter won last year’s.

Select seats for the William Hill Haskell are still available and can be purchased online at www.monmouthpark.com, by calling 732-571-5563 or by visiting the reserved seat ticket booth at the track on live race days.

A 14-race card is anticipated for Haskell Day, with gates opening at 10 a.m. and first post at noon.

America’s Best Racing’s Bus Tour, which has been making stops at racetracks throughout the country all year, is coming to Monmouth Park this week.

The ABRV is a 45-foot streamline bus painted with horse racing scenes. This fanfriendly tour is designed to promote the sport of thoroughbred racing and “Make Racing Cool.” It is targeting younger fans (ages 18- 35), showing them that a day at the track is a great experience. The tour promotes everything about racing from the lifestyle of those in it to the actual competition. It wants to bring a new generation of fans to the track.

The bus will be at Long Branch’s Pier Village on July 24 and at Monmouth Park from July 26-28.

The bus has been to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. It is on a 12- race tour (Monmouth Park is the sixth stop). Its final stop will be at the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita (Arcadia, Calif.).

To find out more about America’s Best Racing, visit its website at www.followhorseracing.com.

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