Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown will likely see six or seven rivals when he kicks off the second half of his 3-year-old season in Monmouth’s $1 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday, Aug. 3.
Big Brown, owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., has been training steadily at Rick Dutrow Jr.’s Aqueduct base. The son of Boundary was unbeaten in five lifetime starts until he lost
his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes.
Those considered likely to challenge Big Brown in Monmouth’s mile and an eighth classic are Atoned, Cool Coal Man, Hey Byrn, Nistle’s Crunch, Tale of Ekati and Truth Rules. Magical Forest remains a possibility for the Haskell.
Cool Coal Man and Truth Rules, both owned by Robert LaPenta and trained by Nick Zito, are winners over the track. Cool Coal Man took the Spend a Buck Stakes here in his last start on June 14, while Truth Rules has a perfect three-for-three record at Monmouth. The son of Vindication broke his maiden here in May, won an allowance race in June, and last out on July 11 scored in the Long Branch Stakes, Monmouth’s main prep for the Haskell.
Dogwood Stable’s Atoned has a mark of 2-3-0 in five starts at Monmouth. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt broke his maiden and won the Continental Mile Stakes here last year, and this year has run second in both the Spend a Buck and Long Branch stakes.
Pletcher is going for an unprecedented third straight Haskell victory this year. He won the race in 2006 with Bluegrass Cat, and last year with Any Given Saturday.
Charles E. Fipke’s Tale of Ekati, training at Saratoga with Barclay Tagg’s string, ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last October here, finishing fourth behind War Pass. The son of Tale of the Cat turned in a sharp breeze at the Spa on Wednesday, getting five furlongs in 1:00 flat.
Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn, winner of the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream in April, finished a troubled fourth in the Long Branch last out, his first Monmouth start for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.
Nistle’s Crunch, owned by Alien Farm and trained by Ken McPeek, will be making his first start in his native state. The New Jersey-bred son of Van Nistlerooy is coming off three straight turf races, including a victory at Keeneland.
Magical Forest, owned by Ernie Paragallo’s Paraneck Stable and trained by Joe DeMola, finished fifth in the Rumson Stakes run on a muddy track here on May 21. He came out of that sprint to win two mile and a sixteenth stakes at Delaware Park.