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Blog - EVENTS/TRAVEL

It’s Haskell time, baby! The Haskell Invitational Stakes is one of my favorite races of the summer, and with good reason: it’s a fierce competition at a fantastically cool racetrack right on the beautiful Jersey Shore; and this year, the race is all the more special since the shore is back open for business in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. New Jersey residents and visitors are coming back stronger than ever, and what better way is there to celebrate the life and all-out fun of a summer at the Shore’s Greatest Stretch, Monmouth Park? 

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So today I jumped on the New Jersey Transit from Penn Station (So easy! And, like, $20 round trip! Why other sporting events are not as affordable to fans as racing is continues to boggle my mind) and boogied down the coast to Monmouth Park for the Haskell draw. This is an event where the horses’ post positions (AKA what number they’re assigned in the starting gate) and betting odds are determined. Monmouth does an amazing job with it. They even had Haskell hats waiting for us! They are very, very cool, by the way, and you can get one for free with paid admission on Sunday.

Obviously, I had to put mine on right away. I do this with everything people give me; on Christmas, I end up looking like an insane person because I literally will try to wear any and all gifts that I get all at one time because: PRESENTS. PRESENTS FOR ME! 

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that this year’s Haskell hat is awesome and you should come to Monmouth Park on Sunday and get one. 

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After settling in with my SWAG (which is a marketing acronym for “Souvenirs, Wearables and Giveaways,” Justin Bieber. STOP USING IT.) it was draw time! To kick off the ceremonies, the track bugler came out to play the traditional “Call to the Post.”

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The Haskell is shaping up to be a great race, with Preakness winner Oxbow facing Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial Stakes winner Verrazano and Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul. There are seven talented 3-year-olds going forward this year, and below are the post positions and odds for the race. Vyjack, who won the Gotham Stakes, was a surprise late addition to the Haskell, which is why he’s added in my terrible penmanship at the bottom. 

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Larry Collmus, the track announcer at Monmouth who is also the voice of the Triple Crown, was our emcee for the afternoon.

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After the post positions and odds were assigned, he asked several of the horses’ connections (i.e. trainers, owners and jockeys) questions about the Haskell. Here’s Verrazano’s co-owner Bryan Sullivan mulling over a reply:

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And this is jockey “Jersey” Joe Bravo talking up his mount Micromanage to the press. He seems really confident in him; Micromanage may be the sneaky horse to bet in this race. Also, Joe has won been the leading rider at Monmouth 13 times, so he’s definitely a guy who knows his way around the racetrack.

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There were plenty of other trainers who made themselves available for questions over the phone, and as I listened to them my eyes stayed trained on their goal for Sunday: the Haskell trophy:

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Heck, the folks at Monmouth Park are so nice that they even let America’s Best Racing’s own John Kelly hold the trophy. I’m not even going to pretend that I wasn’t totally jealous. 

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Another thing that was so great to see was the amount of press there at the draw ceremony. With the Shore still recovering from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, I think there were a lot of people who wanted to come out and support the Haskell, a sporting event that is so quintessentially New Jersey.

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Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Monmouth also provided an excellent lunch spread for the press! It was totally yummy (I had crab cakes!) and as I was waiting in line, I overheard the best quote ever: “It’s not journalism unless it’s been catered.” Definitely a sentiment I can get behind!

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We were also treated to a sneak peek of some renderings of Monmouth’s upcoming William Hill Sports Book that they’re building. It looks like it’s going to be very plush and swanky, and I can’t wait to see it when it opens up.

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It was great to hook up with our ABRV Brand Ambassadors and see the new look of our bus; it’s all decked out in Breeders’ Cup purple and it is lookin’ good! Please take a minute to stop by and say hi if you’re at the Haskell – you may even walk away with your very own jockey goggles!

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If you are planning on going to the Haskell, please check out our guide to all things Oceanport here. Also, I grabbed a few key photos to help you thoroughly enjoy your day. First of all, the most crucial information: you can bring your own drinks to the Haskell. Heck, Monmouth encourages it – there’s a whole area just for the BYOB crowd. 

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Secondly, there are tons of yummy food options right at the track, so come hungry. Fresh seafood, cheesesteaks, burgers and pretty much anything else is there. I will do my part as a dedicated reporter on Sunday and try to eat as much of it as possible. I do it for you, my readers. Selfless journalism! 

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Lastly, if you’re within 400 miles of Monmouth Park on Sunday, you really should try to come out to the track for the Haskell. There’s no feeling like it when these beautiful horses walk out on the track to the tune of “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen and the crowd cheers and the air is thick with excited anticipation. It’s “The War at the Shore,” and you gotta see it for yourself.

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ARE YOU READY FOR THE SECOND SEASON?



$1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational

Sunday, Monmouth Park, Race 13, 6:20 p.m. ET

3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

Odds

1

Vyjack

Paco Lopez

118

Rudy Rodriguez

12-1

2

Pick of the Litter

Jesus Castanon

118

Dale Romans

15-1

3

Golden Soul

Robby Albarado

118

Dallas Stewart

8-1

4

Power Broker

Rosie Napravnik

118

Bob Baffert

3-1

5

Oxbow

Gary Stevens

122

D. Wayne Lukas

2-1

6

Micromanage

Joe Bravo

118

Todd Pletcher

6-1

7

Verrazano

John Velazquez

120

Todd Pletcher

9-5

Image Description

Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

Image Description

Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

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