Champion winner American Pharoah will be making his first start since running in the Belmont and securing his hard-earned place in racing history by winning the Triple Crown consisting of victories in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. He is scheduled to run in the Grade I William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes, at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2. Pharoah drew post four on July 30 for the $1.75-million Haskell, and faces seven competitors.
American Pharoah races for the Zayat Stables for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. His regular jockey Victor Espinoza will again ride the brilliant colt in his bid for the win in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell. Baffert has great confidence in Pharoah and expects the colt to “deliver his best on Sunday.”
Says Baffert, “The way he’s prepared, he’s ready for this race. I feel confident that he’s going to run a big race, and that’s all—as a trainer, that’s all we can do is just have them ready and whatever happens, happens.”
Zayat Stables is expecting around one hundred guests to attend the race with them on their New Jersey track. Justin Zayat, racing manager for Zayat Stables, is excited about Sunday’s race, and acknowledges that the Haskell is a special race for them and they are looking forward to supporting their home state especially since New Jersey has “done a superb job of welcoming us.”
Of the seven competitors taking on the Triple Crown champion, Upstart is making his bid to beat Pharoah on Sunday. He is coming into the race at early odds of 6-1. Upstart has not raced since he placed last in the Kentucky Derby. He remains cross-entered in the Grade II Jim Dandy at Saratoga Race Course, but he will most likely enter in the Haskell. Rick Violette, Jr., Upstart’s trainer claims the horse has been perfect since his time off. Vioette says, “He hasn’t missed a beat since coming back. Whatever happened in the Derby stays in the Derby, because he didn’t run.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher is making a serious bid with three horses in the Haskell. He is running Grade I winner, Competitive Edge, who is cross-entered in the Jim Dandy. His current odds for the Haskell are 8-1. Competitive Edge will attempt a victory after his disappointing sixth place in the Grade II Woody Stephens Stakes. Since the increased purse for the Haskell was announced yesterday – from $1-million to $1.75-million – Pletcher has added Nonna’s Boy who won the Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth on July 18, and also the runner-up from the same stakes, Dontbetwithbruno.
Keen Ice ran in the Belmont and, just like Pharoah, has not run since then. He is trained by Dale Romans and runs for Donegal Racing.
Hoping for an upset on Sunday after his win in the Grade III Pegasus Stakes is Mr. Jordan. And, finally, rounding out the field of competitors is Top Clearance who won a July 11 allowance race at Monmouth.
Live coverage of the Haskell Invitational, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, will be broadcast by NBC starting at 5 p.m. This is the Haskell field (in post-position order)
Race safely American Pharoah and take victory all the way home!