Nearly three decades since winning Monmouth Park's biggest race, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will look to do it again when he sends Battle of Midway toOceanport, New Jersey for the July 30, betfair.com Haskell Invitational.
Third in this year's Kentucky Derby, Battle of Midway comes into the Grade 1 Haskell off a four and a quarter length score in the Grade 3 Affirmed on June 24 at Santa Anita, going wire-to-wire. Flavien Prat was aboard in both those races and he will be aboard once again in the mile and eighth Haskell, according to the Hall of Fame trainer.
Battle of Midway, a colt by Smart Strike from the Concerto mare Rigoletta, has worked three times since his last score. The most recent breeze came on July 14, where he went six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 handily, the third fastest time of the 19 horses who worked the distance on that day at Santa Anita.
“The horse has been doing really well since his last race,” said Hollendorfer, who won the 1989 Haskell with King Glorious. “We just wanted to maintain his good form with the works. Everything looks good pointing toward the Haskell.”
In his other Grade 1 start, besides the Derby, Battle of Midway battled on the front-end the entire way before finishing second by just a half-length in the Santa Anita Derby.
Owned by Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm LLC, Battle of Midway broke his maiden at first asking earlier this year, pulling away at the top of the stretch for the three and a quarter length victory in a six furlong maiden special weight event at Santa Anita.
For Battle of Midway to get Hollendorfer back in the Monmouth Park winner's circle, he'll have to best a very competitive group pointing for this year's $1 million event, including:
Ø Irish War Cry- A New Jersey-bred owned by Amory L. Haskell's daughter Isabelle de Tomaso. The H. Graham Motion trainee was runner-up in the Belmont Stakes and won the Grade 2 Wood Memorial in April.
Ø Timeline, Practical Joke – From the Chad Brown barn, Timeline is a perfect four-for-four and a winner at Monmouth after capturing the Grade 3 Pegasus last out, while Grade 1 winning Practical Joke won last year's Champagne Stakes and last out took the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont on July 8.
Ø Girvin – Winner of the Louisiana Derby, the Joe Sharp trainee exits a runner-up effort in the Ohio Derby to multiple graded stakes winner Irap.
Ø McCracken – most recent winner of the Matt Winn Stakes, this Ian Wilkes trainee is a multiple graded stakes winner.
Ø Hence- winner of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby on the road to his run in the Kentucky Derby. Most recently won the Grade 3 Iowa Derby on July 7.
Ø Impressive Edge – multiple graded stakes placed Dale Romans trainee finished third in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby and the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes.
The Haskell Invitational will air live on NBC from 5 to 6 p.m. Admission that day is $8 Grandstand ($4 seniors) and $10 Clubhouse ($5 seniors). Select reserved seats remain and can be purchased by contacting 732-571-5563. All paid admissions will receive the commemorative Haskell hat, while supplies last.
The betfair.com Haskell Invitational is a Breeders' Cup Win & You're In event, which covers the $150,000 fee to race in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4.
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