The TVG.com Haskell Invitational Stakes is right around the corner, and if you’re heading to Monmouth Park Saturday for the War at the Shore, we have 10 things you need to know before you go to New Jersey’s biggest horse race.
1. The race is going to be really, really good.
This year’s Haskell Invitational is shaping up to be a thriller: Maximum Security (who was famously DQ’d from winning this year’s Kentucky Derby) will likely face Preakness Stakes runner-up Everfast, King for a Day (who recently beat Maximum Security in the Pegasus Stakes), Affirmed Stakes winner Mucho Gusto, and others. The Haskell going to be a nail-biter from start to finish.
2. The winner is going to the World Championships.
The TVG.com Haskell Invitational is a "Win and You’re In" race for the Breeders’ Cup – that means that the victor gains an automatic berth in horse racing’s World Championships. And the Haskell is a key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic: in years past, horses who ran in the Haskell before winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic include the amazing American Pharoah, Bayern, Curlin, Cat Thief, and Concern.
3. For the first time, this year’s the Haskell is on a Saturday.
2019 is the first year that the Haskell will be run on a Saturday; that makes it (in my opinion, at least!) a lot easier to get to since you won’t be battling Sunday Shore traffic all day! Whether you’re driving or taking New Jersey Transit – the train stops right at the track! – it’s going to be so easy to get to Monmouth to enjoy the biggest race of the year.
4. There’s an amazing giveaway.
Every year, Monmouth Park makes a commemorative hat for the Haskell which is free with paid admission. And I have to be honest: I think this year’s is my favorite ever. You better bet I’ll be grabbing at least one extra to give away on ABR’s social media, so stay tuned for that!
5. You can bring your own party to the Haskell.
Monmouth Park has an entire picnic area where fans can secure tables right next to the track; it’s one of my favorite spots at any racetrack I’ve ever been to, and the fact that people are encouraged to bring in their own food and drinks is icing on the cake. Think about it: when was the last time a football stadium or baseball field let their attendees bring in stocked coolers? Just make sure you check out what you can and cannot bring to the track before you pack your goody bag. If you’re planning on getting in on this action on Haskell day, plan on getting to the track early: gates open at 8 a.m., and competition for the best spots in the backyard picnic area is fierce.
6. Don’t want to picnic? Then get ready to explore Monmouth Park’s amazing food options.
Monmouth Park has some of the best track food going: in addition to its in-house concessions, there are Italian Ice stands, fried chicken sandwiches, empanadas, pizza by the slice… and Max’s Famous Hot Dogs. This Jersey Shore staple has an outpost at Monmouth Park, and the hot dogs are insanely delicious. My favorite is the Spicy Jockey with pepperjack cheese and jalapenos, but everything on offer is incredible.
7. Have kids? Haskell is the perfect day to bring them to the races.
If you have little ones, bring them to the Haskell! After all, there will be free pony rides, face painting, and a bouncy house from noon – 4 p.m. Get the details here!
8. You can toast the winner with the official drink of the Haskell.
Get a taste of the Haskell by trying the official cocktail of the War at the Shore: the Haskell Summer Wind. Made with vodka, triple sec, limes, and sour mix, it’s a tart and refreshing way to celebrate New Jersey’s signature race.
9. Dress to impress and win great prizes!
Do you love fashion? Then get excited for the Haskell on Saturday! Not only is just a ton of fun to get dressed up for a day at the races, this year there will be a prize for the Best Dressed Couple on Haskell Day. So pair up, dress up, and get ready to win!
10. Make a beach weekend out of the Haskell.
Monmouth Park is about two miles from the famed Jersey Shore – in fact, you can see the Atlantic Ocean from the upper floors of the Grandstand – so why not plan on making this weekend into a mini summer vacation by hitting up the beach? Long Branch Beach is stunningly beautiful, and you can even spend Saturday morning enjoying the surf before heading to Haskell to take in the turf.