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.