Thursday, July 10, 2008
HASKELL HOPEFULS PREP IN SATURDAY’S LONG BRANCH STAKES
OCEANPORT, N.J. * Saturday’s $150,000 Long Branch Stakes serves as Monmouth’s main prep race for the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1), which will be renewed on Aug. 3 * Trainer Mary Hartmann is still excited about getting her first Grade 1 stakes victory with Presious Passion in the United Nations * Kiss the Kid returns to grass in Saturday’s $70,000 Bob Harding Stakes.
We know the 41st running of the $1 million Haskell Invitational is just around the corner because this Saturday brings the $150,000 Long Branch Stakes, Monmouth’s primary prep for the Grade 1 Haskell.
A field of six or seven 3-year-olds is expected for this 74th running of the Long Branch, one of the oldest stakes events at Monmouth. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won the Haskell the past two years, has nominated eight for the Long Branch, and is expected to run two of them.
One of the Pletcher charges, Dogwood Stable’s Atoned, won the Continental Mile Stakes here last year as a 2-year-old, and has been training over the Monmouth strip this season. He was second by a neck to Cool Coal Man in the Spend a Buck Stakes here in June.
Pletcher also nominated Ready’s Echo, who finished third in the Belmont Stakes last out, and Behindatthebar, winner of the Lexington Stakes in April who has been training well at Belmont.
Local Long Branch hopes include the Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained Hey Byrn, who won the Holy Bull Stakes in Florida and then ran seventh in the Preakness; Famous Patriot from the Tim Hills barn who ran third behind Hey Byrn in the Holy Bull, and the Nick Zito-trained Truth Rules, who has won his last two starts at Monmouth.
Others considered possibles are Indy Joe, who was third behind J Be K in the Jersey Shore Stakes here on July 4, and the Bill Mott-trained pair of Alaazo, who broke his maiden at Monmouth last year, and Z Humor, who was third in the Sapling here last year.
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