Saturday's Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes served as Monmouth Park's last major prep for the $1-million Haskell Invitational, with this year's top 3-year-olds prepping for the 35th renewal of the race on August 4."Once again we'll have the best of the best in the Haskell," said Sean Greely, racing secretary at Monmouth Park. "The interest level this year has been tremendous, which should produce another memorable race."Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem is already expected to head to New Jersey for the 1 1/8-mile Haskell as Prince Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corp. and trainer Bob Baffert go for back-to-back Haskell's after last year's win with Horse of the Year Point Given.However, no one appears ready to hand over the Haskell trophy to the classic winner War Emblem, as another classic winner Sarava may also be heading to the Haskell. Trainer Ken McPeek has yet to make plans for his Belmont Stakes winner, but he has indicated that Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational may be the next stop on his colt's summer calendar.Also expressing interest in the Haskell is owner/trainer Nancy Alberts, who conditions Magic Weisner, runner-up in the Preakness Stakes and fourth last out in the Belmont Stakes.Others who have already received invitations to the Haskell are Sunday Break, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) and third in the Belmont Stakes; Medaglia d'Oro, second last out in the Belmont; Nothing Flat, second in the Dwyer; Easyfromthegitgo, a Kentucky Derby competitor and victor of the Iowa Derby last out; and Century City, a stakes winner at the Curragh in Ireland.In addition, Long Branch winner Puck, who was scheduled to leave for his Florida headquarters following Saturday's victory, has stayed behind as trainer Bill White eyes a potential Haskell bid."Now I'll sit down with the owners, and if we get invited to the Haskell, I'll strongly consider keeping him here," said White, following the Long Branch win. "We wouldn't have to ship, and he's had a race over the track."
Greely confirmed on Sunday that Puck has indeed earned an invitation to the August 4 Haskell.