07/23/2009 11:00PM

Atomic Rain still pointing for Haskell

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Summer Bird gets a paddock schooling session at Monmouth on Friday.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Atomic Rain will run in the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational after all.

Atomic Rain, who was sold to Godolphin earlier this week, changed hands Friday morning as trainer Kelly Breen walked the colt three barns down, delivering him to Kiaran McLaughlin's Monmouth Park division.

Although he will be housed in McLaughlin's barn, Atomic Rain will be trained by Rachel Dore, previously an assistant to Godolphin Racing's Rick Mettee in New York.

"We trained him this morning and they cooled him out," Breen said Friday. "He is feeling good. He was kicking the barn down."

Atomic Rain won the Long Branch Stakes July 11 and Godolphin purchased the colt from George and Lori Hall. The sale had clouded Atomic Rain's status for the Haskell as Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford, said he was purchased to race in Dubai this winter.

"We will make a decision shortly with regard to his more immediate future," Crisford said in a statement.

The immediate future now includes the Haskell, to be run next Sunday.

Mettee, Godolphin's Belmont Park-based assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, confirmed Friday that Atomic Rain will remain at Monmouth for the track's showcase event.

"As of right now, Saeed plans on taking a shot in the Haskell," Mettee said. "The horse is down there at Monmouth, he'll stay at Monmouth and then ship up to Saratoga after the race. Monmouth has always been about horses for courses, and they felt like they had nothing to lose by taking a shot in there.''

Dore will fly in from England to oversee Atomic Rain's preparations for the race.

Since finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby, Atomic Rain has thrived at Monmouth. He easily won a first-level allowance on June 6 and drew off to a 4 3/4-length win in the Long Branch, the traditional prep for the Haskell.

With Atomic Rain back in the Haskell lineup, the race now has six definite runners. Rachel Alexandra, the filly sensation looking to duplicate her win over the colts in the Preakness, is the main attraction. She will take on Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird; Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem; Munnings, who most recently beat older sprinters in the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont; and Bunker Hill, 2 for 3 at Monmouth, including a win last year in the off-the-turf Continental Mile.

Haskell possibles are Duke of Mischief and Together Indy.

Trainer David Fawkes will work Duke of Mischief, the Iowa Derby winner, one more time at Calder before making a Haskell decision.

Together Indy is a New Jersey-bred who has never gone beyond seven furlongs. Trained by George Weaver, he has won twice at this meet against statebreds.

Rachel to school in paddock July 31

Rachel Alexandra, who figures to be the Haskell favorite, is slated to arrive at Monmouth on July 31.

Fans can catch an early glimpse when she schools in the paddock that afternoon with the sixth-race horses.

Summer Bird has second session

Summer Bird was alert and on his toes for his paddock schooling session before Friday's third race.

His ears pricked when the bugler sounded the call to post. It took two handlers to hold him steady when he tried to join the horses as they headed from the paddock to the track.

It was his second paddock session since arriving at Monmouth. Summer Bird will have his final Haskell breeze Sunday morning with Kent Desormeaux aboard and is slated for one more paddock schooling sometime next week.

"When it's time to run, he might just think he's up here to school," trainer Tim Ice joked. "When that saddle goes on his back, he'll know what to do."

- additional reporting by David Grening