Saturday, August 02, 2008
Monmouth Park Barn Notes for Friday, August 1, 2008
OCEANPORT, N.J. * Big Brown blew out on the turf at Aqueduct Friday for Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational Presented by Vonage (G1) and is scheduled to school in the Monmouth paddock Saturday afternoon * The Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner goes from Post 4 in the mile and an eighth Haskell and is the 1-2 morning line favorite.
BIG BROWN, Post 4, 1-2 * The dual classic winner, who starts from the middle of the field in Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational Presented by Vonage (G1), had his final breeze for the race Friday morning at Aqueduct when he blew out three furlongs in :38 3/5 over the Big A turf course.
Big Brown has been installed the 1-2 morning line favorite by Monmouth oddsmaker Brad Thomas.
Big Brown is owned by the IEAH Stables syndicate in partnership with three New Jersey residents * Paul Pompa Jr., Gary Tolchin and Andrew Cohen.
The colt won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in rousing fashion, but was pulled up and did not finish in the Belmont Stakes, ending his Triple Crown bid. He has been working steadily at Aqueduct since the June 7 Belmont for his return.
Kent Desormeaux, who has been aboard in all Big Brown’s starts this year, has the mount in the Haskell. This is the third Haskell mount for Desormeaux, who finished fourth aboard Private Terms in 1988, and third on Free House in 1997.
ALAAZO, Post 3, 30-1 * The Bill Mott-trained colt is expected to ship down early Sunday morning from Saratoga for the Haskell.
Alaazo, a son of A.P. Indy, broke his maiden at Monmouth as a 2-year-old last August, and then was out until February this year when he won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. The Zayat Stables color bearer was fourth in his most recent start, an allowance at Belmont on June 27.
He has been working steadily at Saratoga for his return to action, most recently turning in a seven-furlong breeze in 1:28 4/5 on Tuesday.
Mott has given the mount on Alaazo to Jose Lezcano, currently the leading rider at Monmouth. This is the second Haskell ride for Lezcano, who finished ninth on Little Cliff in 2006.
The dark bay colt has license to run well at Monmouth. His dam, the Deputy Minister mare Atelier, won the Molly Pitcher Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G2) for trainer Shug McGaughey here in 2002.
ATONED, Post 7, 6-1 * Trainer Todd Pletcher has added blinkers to the colt’s equipment as he goes for an unprecedented third straight Haskell victory with the Dogwood Stable color bearer, who is stabled at Monmouth in the care of assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta Jr.
Atoned was out on the Monmouth track Friday morning, galloping a mile and three-eighths with Madeline Sciametta aboard.
Atoned, who finished second in both his Monmouth preps for the Haskell * the Spend a Buck Stakes on June 14 and the Long Branch on July 12 * will race in blinkers for the first time Sunday.
The son of Repent, who has two wins and seven seconds in 12 lifetime starts, wore the blinkers last Saturday when he breezed a half-mile in :50 flat at Monmouth.
“I don’t know whether he’s been unlucky or underachieving or overachieving,” Pletcher said of the five photo finishes Atoned has lost. “We’re putting blinkers on him for this race to see if we can get him more focused.”
Edgar Prado, who won the 2003 Haskell aboard Peace Rules, will take the mount on Atoned for the first time.
Pletcher has won the past two Haskells with Bluegrass Cat in 2006 and Any Given Saturday last year.
COAL PLAY, Post 6, 8-1/ COOL COAL MAN, Post 2, 4-1 * The two sons of Mineshaft both own victories at Monmouth for owner Robert V. LaPenta and trainer Nick Zito. The two colts have been working steadily at Saratoga for the Haskell, and are expected to ship to Monmouth early Sunday morning.
Coal Play made his first start at Monmouth memorable on May 25, when he led all the way at a mile and 70 yards, and then drew off late to win an allowance race by more than nine lengths for his second lifetime score.
In his next start on July 4, Coal Play raced wide while pressing the pace and had to settle for third.
Joe Bravo, who was aboard in both races here, will have the mount on Sunday as he seeks a second Haskell win. The 13-time champion Monmouth jockey won his first Haskell in 2004 aboard Lion Heart.
Cool Coal Man won his only Monmouth start, beating Atoned by a neck in the Spend a Buck Stakes in June, his most recent outing. Zito said he was happy the colt drew Post 2.
“I like the inside post for him,” the trainer said. “I’m hoping he can save ground and run a nice race.”
The colt was one of Zito’s main Kentucky Derby hopes this winter when he won the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream. However, he turned in a poor effort over Keeneland’s Polytrack in the Blue Grass Stakes, and then finished 15th * nearly 32 lengths behind Big Brown * in the Kentucky Derby. The Spend a Buck was his comeback effort after the Derby.
Eddie Castro, who rode Cool Coal Man in his stakes win here, has the mount for the Haskell. Castro finished fourth aboard Victory Lake in 2006, his only other Haskell mount.
MAGICAL FOREST, Post 1, 10-1 * The son of Forest Camp, who has won his last two, including the Grade 3 Barbaro Stakes at Delaware, will ship to Monmouth on Sunday morning from Aqueduct, where he’s stabled with the other horses Joe DeMola trains for owner Ernie Paragallo’s Paraneck Stable.
DeMola said the rail post suits the colt just fine.
“I’m ecstatic about the post,” DeMola said. “I was hoping for one, two or three, and got what I wanted. This colt has been getting better and better. He and Jorge (jockey Jorge Chavez) put it together in the Barbaro and I’m hoping they can do it again.”
Magical Forest has taken four of 11 starts this year, but was fifth in his only Monmouth appearance, the six-furlong Rumson Stakes on May 31 when he appeared to dislike the muddy track.
However, when stretched out after the Rumson, Magical Forest won the Floor Show Stakes at Delaware in June, and followed with his Barbaro score on July 13.
This will be the third Haskell mount for Chavez, who was ninth aboard Halo Hansome in 1989, and sixth on Hero’s Tribute in 2001.
NISTLE’S CRUNCH, Post 5, 15-1 *The New Jersey-bred son of Van Nistelrooy, who makes his first home state start Sunday, was able to gallop just three-eighths of a mile Friday morning before the track was closed for an hour because of an injured horse.
Peter Hutton, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek, accompanied the colt on his van ride from Churchill Downs on Thursday, and has galloped Nistle’s Crunch here the past two days.
Hutton is a familiar figure at Monmouth because he has served as an assistant to both Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas. The English-born former jockey was with champion filly Silverbulletday here when she won the Monmouth Oaks in 1999, and came with Haskell runner Captain Steve, who was second to Dixie Union in 2000.
Hutton will not be staying for this Haskell, however. He leaves Saturday night for Russia with the McPeek-trained Racecar Rhapsody (fourth in the Preakness), who is scheduled to run in the Russian Derby at the Moscow Hippodrome later this month.
Nistle’s Crunch, owned and bred by the Alien Farm of New Jersey residents Michael Harrison and Dr. Alan Furst, has made his last three starts on the grass. He is the only member of the Haskell field to have won on all three surfaces * dirt, turf and synthetic.
The colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at Churchill Downs last Saturday.
He gets a new rider Sunday in Elvis Trujillo, who will be riding in his first Haskell.
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