As the 47th running of the summer centerpiece of Monmouth Park's racing season, the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational draws near, trainers are making final preparations with their Grade 1 runners. The following highlights what the nation's top 3-year-olds have been doing to prepare for Sunday's mile and one eighth event.
Encryption trained just a little over a mile today for local trainer Kelly Breen on Saturday morning. “Everything's good,” said Breen of his graded stakes placed runner, who will break from the rail on Sunday with Paco Lopez aboard.
Kaleem Shah's Bayern was out on the track in the morning and trainer Bob Baffert tightened the last screw on the colt with a mile and three eighths gallop. “He went really nice,” said assistant Jim Barnes. “It looks like we may get some rain tomorrow but I don't think that will bother him at all. We're looking forward to the race.”
Breton C. Jones's homebred Albano, winner of the Pegasus Stakes (G3) here last time out, galloped five furlongs at his home base of Delaware Park and remains on the schedule to return to Monmouth Park tomorrow morning. “He's ready,” said trainer Larry Jones. “He's got his head out (of the stall) looking for the van.”
Donegal Racing's Irish You Well was out on the track for an easy one and one half miles gallop over the Monmouth strip on Saturday morning and the son of Broken Vow's was scheduled for a lesson in the paddock in the afternoon.
Conditioned by Pat McBurney, Just Call Kenny jogged to the starting gate along Monmouth's main track on Saturday morning, stood in, backed out, and galloped back home. “He's feeling very happy with himself,” McBurney said. “Everything went nice and easy.” McBurney decided not to school his horse in the paddock saying, “We were going to do it yesterday but when he went out to eat grass in the afternoon the flies were tearing him up, and being a big black horse with the sun beating down on him we decided not to. He walked in the paddock yesterday (Friday) morning at 5:30. He's pretty good. He's never seen a crowd like he'll see Sunday obviously but we're hoping that's enough for him.”
Owner Ron Santos of Rontos Racing Stable Corp. arrived at Monmouth this morning from his South Florida home and predicted that the nervousness Social Inclusion displayed in the paddock and post parade and at the gate in his last two races is a thing of the past. “This horse is more mature now. Hopefully he'll show his class,” Santos said. “The horse galloped a mile and a half this morning and he came back to the barn healthy and full of energy. Manny (trainer Azpurua) said he's relaxed and better than ever. I think this is the best Haskell field in the last 10 years. I have a lot of respect for the filly and my horse is going to have to run his best race of the year.”
With all of her work and schooling completed, Untapable went out to stretch her legs and galloped once around under regular exercise rider Mike Callaham. Darren Fleming, who is overseeing her care for trainer Steve Asmussen, reported that the filly is happy and doing extremely well leading up to the biggest test of her career.
The Jose Garoffalo-trained Wildcat Red had a one mile easy gallop this morning at Monmouth Park. “He's saving his energy for the race,” Garoffalo said. “He came back very happy, very good.” The winner of the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth also schooled in the paddock yesterday during the second race. “He was very good in the school,” said Garoffalo. “He was very calm, very professional. He really likes it here. He likes the track, he likes the paddock. The only thing we have left to do is to run the race.”
Medal Count galloped a mile and a half in Oceanport on Saturday morning for trainer Dale Romans. “He looks great,” Romans said. “He's on his game. The last two days he's been bouncing around the track like he loves the place.” Romans has also decided not school his Classic placed colt saying, “I feel like its getting a little warm. I think I'm just better off staying in the barn.”
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