Haskell Invitational Handicap
Named for the late Armory L. Haskell – a driving force behind the revival of thoroughbred racing in New Jersey in the mid-1940s – the original Haskell Handicap was first run in 1968 at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, NJ. While the earlier versions of the event were open to older horses, in 1981 the Haskell became an “invitation-only” stakes race. Now known as the Resorts Casino and Hotel Haskell Invitational, the race is a $1 million Grade I test over 1 1/8 miles on the Monmouth dirt.
As one of the major races on the summer racing calendar, the Haskell is seen as one of the best stepping-stone races toward the fall’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. From 2008 to 2010, the winner of the Haskell went on to capture the Eclipse Award as the champion three-year-old in America, with the 2010 winner, Rachel Alexander, named as the champion filly. From 2010-2012, horses trained by the famed Bob Baffert won three straight Haskell Invitational trophies, most recently Paynter, who earlier that year finished second in the Belmont Stakes.
Rachel Alexander was the second filly to win the Haskell, after Serena’s Song in 1995. The race record is 1:47 flat held by both Bet Twice (1987) and Majestic Light (1976), while Bluegrass Cat set the record for the largest margin of victory in 2006, putting away his rivals by 7 lengths. The last Kentucky Derby winner to go on to win the Haskell was Big Brown in 2008. Baffert holds the record for most wins by a trainer at six, while jockey Craig Perrett had the winning ride three times.
2015 Haskell Invitational Contenders
The Haskell Invitational has a storied list of past winners and in 2014, Bayern added his name among that elite company. Squaring off against the filly, Untapable, the dark bay colt went mostly overlooked and went off at odds of nearly 5-1. One the sharp front-runner made the lead out of the gate, the race was all but over.
Bayern went on to win the Haskell Invitational by 7 ¼ lengths and in doing so, he established himself as a three-year-old to watch for the remainder of the year. Though he faltered in his next start, the Travers Stakes, he went on to win both the Pennsylvania Derby and the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic.
- Wildcat Red
- Irish You Well
- Untapable (favorite)
- Just Call Kenny
- Social Inclusion
- Medal Count
Check back closer to the race for the contenders for the 2015 Haskell Invitational.