Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Contentious Haskell: Who Isn’t Running?

Posted by Brian Appleton on July 31, 2010

The 2010 IZOD Haskell Invitational (gr.1) has attracted one of the deepest fields in the 43 year history of the prestigious race thus setting the stage for one of the most dramatic renewals on record. Leading the star-studded cast is 2009 Champion two-year old Male Lookin At Lucky, winner of the Preakness and Rebel Stakes this year. The brilliant son of Smart Strike has been just about the unluckiest colt of 2009, seeming never to catch a good trip in his races until the Preakness Stakes. He will undoubtedly be the deserving favorite. A win here would thrust him firmly into the lead for the 3-year-old male championship. Trainer Bob Baffert once again finds his charge leaving from the number 1 hole just like in the Kentucky Derby.

Returning off an 8th place finish in the Preakness Stakes behind Lookin At Lucky is Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. Trainer Todd Pletcher is confident of the colts physical and mental condition right now, stating that he believes he is in better condition now than he was for the spring classics. He will be looking to prove that winning the Derby was just a prelude to greater things this year.

First Dude charged hard onto the national racing stage with a gritty runner-up finish in the Preakness Stakes in May before another impressive performance in the Belmont Stakes that resulted in a third place finish. In both starts he led from the break and held on gamely in the late stages to grudgingly lose the lead. This guy has displayed more grit and determination than almost any other runner this year.

Ice Box gave a very uncharacteristically poor showing of himself in the Belmont Stakes as the favorite, finishing a lack-luster 9th. Trainer Nick Zito was at a loss after the race as to a reason for the poor showing and will have Ice Box fit and ready for this race. His Kentucky Derby runner-up showing continues to be one of the most impressive losing efforts of 2010.

Trappe Shot enters the Haskell as the horse with everything to prove. The talented colt is undefeated in four starts this year but has never faced competition of this caliber before. In his last start the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee won the Long Branch Stakes in his stakes race debut and looks to make his move into the leaders ranks.

Uptowncharlybrown can once again produce the most beautiful fairy tale ending to the Haskell story with a win. Trainer Alan Seewald died tragically earlier in the year before he got to see his star pupil make a run at the Triple Crown races. Brian Zipse wrote a wonderful article on the subject here, I would highly recommend reading it. In Uptowncharlybrown’s last race, the colt finished fifth after losing one of his weights during the running and only lost by about three lengths.

Afleet Again’s late closing style should get plenty of pace to run into, but with Ice Box sporting the same running style I tend to think his chances will be seriously compromised.

Our Dark Knight will likely be toast with his front-running style. A style that is shared by the tough, speedy First Dude who, in my opinion, is much better than Our Dark Knight and will find little trouble in running him off his feet.

This could prove to be one of the toughest races to handicap this year with all the experience, speed and raw talent entered. I’ll have to say that Lookin At Lucky is still my number one pick of the year overall for the leader of the three year old male division and I think he is the best of this field. Ice Box, First Dude, Uptowncharlybrown and Trappe Shot all come next for me in that order. Ice Box has a devastating late kick when he shows up and First Dude has proven his fighting worth twice against the nation’s best. Trappe Shot is the question mark here, we don’t know how he will perform against graded stakes caliber colts and while I think he is very talented, I don’t think he’ll be able to crack the top two spots.


2 Responses to “Contentious Haskell: Who Isn’t Running?”

  1. Steve M. said

    Lookin at Lucky proved he’s the best 3-year old in the country. Trappe Shot is very good, just no match for Lucky. It will be interesting to see who takes on Lucky in the Travers!

    • Hi Steve,
      It was awesome, I’m very, very excited to see a race like this from Lookin At Lucky. I really hope they go to the Travers and don’t head back west, I would love to see him run in person.
      There aren’t too many fresh faces for him to defeat anymore, the Haskell leaves him as the solid leader of the 3-year-old division now.

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