By Gene Kershner
Trainer Steve Asmussen has been here before.
In 2009 he brought super-filly Rachel Alexandra to challenge the boys at the Shore in the Haskell and she thrashed the competition on her way to being Horse of the Year as a 3-year-old. Of course, she had faced the boys in the Preakness before, so making short work of them was old hat at that point.
On Sunday afternoon at Monmouth Park in the summer meeting's premier race, the filly Untapable will take on eight colts to follow in the footsteps of his trainer's ace filly. Like Rachel, Untapable already has the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose under her belt, but will take on the boys for the first time.
She's had a lot of success at 8 1/2-furlongs, her only win at the Haskell distance of 9 furlongs is in the Kentucky Oaks against her brethren to don the Lilies the day before California Chrome staked claim to the best 3-year-old in the land. The daughter of Tapit will have something to say about that on Sunday afternoon should she beat a decent group of colts, headlined by Woody Stephens winner Bayern (5-2).
The son of Offlee Wild will look to give trainer Bob Baffert a record-increasing 7th victory in the signature race at Monmouth. He's trained five of the last nine winners and Bayern comes off a dominating 7 1/2-length romp in the 7-furlong Stephens against a formidable group. The question with Bayern is can he handle the extra distance where the best he's finished is third.
A horse that can thrive at the distance at speed-favoring Monmouth is Wildcat Red (10-1) who was a game second in the Florida Derby at the same distance. His connections picked this spot over the closer-stacked Jim Dandy and to me that is a sign that they have confidence in the D'Wildcat colt. I think he'll be a big factor in the race.
With the amount of speed in the race, one colt you can't count out is Medal Count. He's yet to establish himself in a big race, but he's faced big excuses every time he's run and Sunday just maybe his day. The Dynaformer colt has the breeding and stamina to overtake the speed in the race late. He finished a length behind the two front-runners in the Belmont and there's no reason to think he won't be around to overtake the filly on Sunday afternoon.
Post Time Outlook: 1 - Medal Count; 2 - Wildcat Red: 3 - Untapable
Here's the field for the Grade 1 Haskell InvitationaL:
|Haskell Post Positions|
|4||Irish You Well||Catalano||Lezcano||12-1|
|5||Just Call Kenny||McBurney||Bravo||10-1|