Horses for Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap have finally showed up from points West, South, and North, and several were on the track Friday morning for light exercise.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem was out at 5:45 to beat the heat, and again had an easy jog and gallop under Mick Jenner, accompanied by stable pony Cisco and assistant trainer Jim Barnes. The son of Our Emblem will attempt to become the first Derby winner to capture the Haskell in the race's 35-year history.
Trainer Bob Baffert is expected to arrive in New York around 1:30 Sunday after taking a 5 a.m. private jet from San Diego following his wedding on Saturday.
The latest arrival is Mr. Mellon, winner of the Arlington Classic on grass, who vanned down from Saratoga, arriving at Monmouth at 10:30. Mr. Mellon, who also captured the Rushaway Stakes on dirt earlier this year, will be ridden by Pat Day. It was Day and Mr. Mellon's trainer Elliott Walden who combined to win the 1999 Haskell with Menifee.
Testing the Monmouth track for the first time this morning was Swaps runner-up Like a Hero, who was out at 10 a.m., just before the track closed. Trainer Beau Greely was on hand to supervise the colt's gallop. Like a Hero is a son of Pleasant Colony and appears to be coming into his own. Assigned only 115 pounds, he'll be pulling nine pounds from War Emblem.
Also on the track this morning was the "local" horse, Puck, who actually is based at Calder, but has been stabled at Monmouth since winning the Long Branch Breeders' Cup on July 13. "He's getting on the muscle," assistant trainer Juan Duarte Arias said. "He's ready to go."
Another Calder shipper, Island Skipper, walked the shed this morning after arriving on Friday. Trainer Fred Warren was due in later this afternoon. Island Skipper is a son of 1985 Haskell winner Skip Trial, who sired 1996 Haskell winner Skip Away.
Still at Saratoga are Medaglia d'Oro, who is expected to run in the Jim Dandy Stakes; Easyfromthegitgo and Peekskill, who also are entered in the Jim Dandy.