Lion Heart Tops List of Possible Haskell Contenders

A field of eight, topped by grade I winner Lion Heart, is shaping up for the $1-million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), going 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 8 at Monmouth Park.

Monmouth Park racing secretary Mike Dempsey said he expects the top three finishers in the Long Branch Stakes (gr. III) - Lion Heart, My Snookie's Boy and Royal Assault - to return in the Haskell.

Under the allowance conditions of the Long Branch, Lion Heart carried 116, My Snookie's Boy 115 and Royal Assault 122. In the handicap for the Haskell, Lion Heart will be giving weight to both.

Patrick Biancone trains Lion Heart, the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) runner-up, for Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, while Nick Zito conditions Tracy Farmer's Royal Assault. Allen Iwinski trains preferred Pals Stable's My Snookie's Boy.

Winchell Thoroughbreds' Tapit, who has not started since running ninth in the Kentucky Derby, has been drilling steadily at trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in Maryland and could be ready for the Haskell. Dickinson said the colt, who has battled a recurring lung infection the last two months, is scheduled to work over the Delaware Park track on Saturday, and a decision will be made after that.

Others possible for the Haskell include Eddington (trained by Mark Hennig); Pollard's Vision (Todd Pletcher); Rock Hard Ten (Jason Orman), and Suave (Paul McGee).