07/29/2009 12:00AM

Atomic Rain doubtful for Haskell


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Atomic Rain has been downgraded to "unlikely" for the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

"He missed the last few days of training with a sore foot," said Rick Mettee, the New York-based assistant to Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin Racing. "It looks unlikely that he will make the race."

A final decision was to be made prior to Thursday morning's draw.

"If there is a chance he can go to the track, we may enter him and see how it looks," Mettee said.

The injury was detected after Atomic Rain breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 here last Saturday.

It was his first work for Godolphin following a private purchase last week from George and Lori Hall.

After finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby, Atomic Rain bounced back at Monmouth to win a pair of races, including the Long Branch Stakes, the traditional prep for the Haskell.

If Atomic Rain can't make the Haskell, a field of six is shaping up for the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Expected runners are the filly Rachel Alexandra, who is looking to duplicate her win over colts in the Preakness; Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird, Munnings, Papa Clem, Bunker Hill, and Duke of Mischief.

Aside from the Atomic Rain developments, it was a quiet day for the other Haskell contenders at Monmouth.

Bunker Hill galloped 1 1/2 miles and schooled in the starting gate. Iowa Derby winner Duke of Mischief was also out for a gallop, as was Summer Bird, who will have a final paddock schooling session on Friday afternoon.

Trainer Tim Ice intended to pick up the tempo for Summer Bird on Thursday morning with a "two-minute clip down the lane, just from the quarter-mile pole down to the wire. Just a little blowout."

Papa Clem, the Arkansas Derby winner, walked.

Rachel Alexandra and Munnings remain at Saratoga.

Rachel Alexandra is slated to arrive Friday morning. She will school with the field for the sixth race on Friday.

Munnings will van down over the weekend to join trainer Todd Pletcher's New Jersey division.

Manning hopes Roman Tiger behaves

The Haskell tops the biggest day of racing in New Jersey, and a card that features eight stakes.

The Oceanport and the Taylor Made Matchmaker, a pair of Grade 3 turf stakes each worth $200,000, are the main supporting events.

Stakes coordinator Dan Dufford expects a solid field for the Oceanport that includes Tizdejavu, winner of three consecutive graded stakes last summer; Get Serious, Kiss the Kid, Pleasant Strike, Yorktown, and Roman Tiger. Proudinsky is a possibility.

Trainer Dennis Manning will try for a third Oceanport win with Roman Tiger, a 4-year-old gelding who missed by only a neck in the Jersey Derby on last year's Haskell undercard.

Manning, winner of the Oceanport in 1991 with Fiftysevenvette and in 2001 with Key Lory, is also the accidental owner of Roman Tiger, a buyback at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton fall sale at Timonium when he failed to meet his reserve.

On the recommendation of a bloodstock agent, Manning bought the horse sight unseen for $20,000 in the belief his primary owner, Mac Fehsenfeld, would be interested in the son of Tiger Ridge.

That was a bad assumption.

"He looked up the pedigree and told me he didn't want any more grass horses," Manning said. "I couldn't go back and renege on the sale. So I wound up with him."

With no regrets, considering the horse has made $148,150 in only six starts.

In his only start this year, Roman Tiger came from far back to get third, beaten only 1 3/4 lengths, in a first- level allowance race.

There was trouble before the race even began.

"He was half unconscious when he ran," Manning said. "He broke through the gate before the start, had blood coming out of his nose, knocked a tooth loose, cut a back leg and his front knee, and fell completely out of the race. That could all be for the best, now that he has a race under his belt."

The lineup for the Matchmaker for fillies and mares looks like American Border, Closeout, Jazz Jam, Meadow Saffron. Pastel Gal, and Social Queen.

- additional reporting by David Grening