Field for Haskell Taking Shape

The field for the Haskell Invitational Presented by Vonage (gr. I) is taking shape with Curlin, Hard Spun and Cable Boy listed as confirmed starters.

The 2007 running of Monmouth Park’s $1-million Haskell Invitational Presented by Vonage (gr. I) promises to be one of the best ever, with Preakness (gr. I) winner Curlin, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)  runner-up Hard Spun, and the undefeated Cable Boy heading the field.

The Haskell, centerpiece of Monmouth’s summer meeting, highlights the card Aug. 5. And this year, in addition to its importance as a post-Triple Crown test for 3-year-olds, the Haskell takes on added importance as a preview of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, powered by Dodge (gr. I), to be run at Monmouth Oct. 27.

Monmouth racing secretary Mike Dempsey said July 20  that five of the 3-year-olds invited are firmly on the starting field list * Curlin, Hard Spun, Cable Boy, Any Given Saturday, and I’mawildandcrazyguy.

Dempsey said he expects a couple of the several horses now on the “possibles” list to join the field, meaning a field of seven will likely line up for the 1 1/8-mile Haskell.

Those 3-year-olds considered possibles to go are Stormello, Albertus Maximus, Delightful Kiss, First Defence, and Teuflesberg. Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, a Haskell invitee, worked July 18 at Churchill Downs and is being pointed toward either the Haskell or the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga.

 “This should turn out to be a great race,” Dempsey said, “one of the best Haskell fields we’ve ever had. You’ve got the Preakness winner, and the Derby second, and an unbeaten horse. Then there’s Todd Pletcher’s horse (Any Given Saturday) who’s in great form, and I’mawildandcrazyguy who ran so well in the Derby (fourth).

 “Add a couple of the other talented horses who haven’t committed yet, and it’s a great race.”

Curlin, a Steve Asmussen-trained son of Smart Strike, did not make his racing debut until Feb. 3 of this year. But in just five months, he’s made a huge impression on the racing world.

Curlin won his first three career races * including the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) by more than 10 lengths, and was one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby. He had some trouble early in the race, but was impressive when he finally shook loose in the stretch to be third behind Street Sense and Hard Spun.

In his next outing, Curlin came from far back in the Preakness to run down Street Sense by a head. In the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), final jewel of the Triple Crown, the colt lost by just a head to the impressive filly Rags to Riches.

Curlin has been training at Saratoga since mid-July to get ready for his run in the Haskell.

Hard Spun, trained by Larry Jones, raced in all three Triple Crown events. The son of Danzig led most of the way in the Kentucky Derby before he was collared by Street Sense in the stretch. He finished third in the Preakness and then was fourth in the Belmont Stakes.

The colt trains at Delaware Park, where Jones has the bulk of his stable.

Cable Boy is the local sensation and a real late bloomer. The Jump Start colt, trained by Pat McBurney and John Forbes, did not make his career debut until May 13 at Monmouth, when he won going away. In his second start May 26, Cable Boy set a track record for a mile and 70 yards with a clocking of 1:38.78, and in his most recent effort won the Coronado’s Quest Stakes by nearly four lengths.

Any Given Saturday is trained by the nation’s leading conditioner, Todd Pletcher, who won last year’s Haskell with Bluegrass Cat. The Distorted Humor colt, who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby, warmed up for the big event by winning the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont July 4.

Bill Kaplan trains I’mawildandcrazyguy, who ran a solid fourth in the Kentucky Derby, but failed to fire in the Belmont Stakes. The son of Wild Event won an allowance race at his Calder home base last out July 14.

Stormello and Albertus Maximus are both based in California. The former, trained by Bill Currin, has been shipping cross-country on a regular basis this year. He was far back in the Kentucky Derby, but raced well most recently when he was third in the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont June 9.

Albertus Maximus is trained by Gary Mandella, whose father, Richard Mandella, won the Haskell with Dixie Union in 2000. The Albert the Greatcolt was second most recently in the Swaps Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park.

Teuflesberg won the Woody Stephens after running 17th in the Derby, and last out was second in the Carry Back Stakes at Calder for trainer Jamie Sanders.

Former jockey Pete Anderson trains Delightful Kiss, who has won the Ohio Derby and Iowa Derby in his last two starts.

First Defence, trained by Bobby Frankel, won Monmouth’s Long Branch Breeders’ Cup Stakes, the local prep for the Haskell.