07/29/2007 11:00PM

Haskell still looks like a good show


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Street Sense was victorious in his comeback on Sunday in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, the race targeted all along by trainer Carl Nafzger.

Monmouth Park officials had clung to the slim hope that extremely poor weather at Saratoga, would detour the Kentucky Derby winner their way for the $1 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds on Sunday.

As fate would have it, Street Sense enjoyed a fast track while the Jersey Shore was deluged that afternoon by a heavy downpour.

Even without the Derby winner, the Haskell is shaping up as a very solid race with six strong contenders topped by the Preakness winner Curlin. The Haskell will be Curlin's first race since his loss by a head to the filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes.

He will face Derby runner-up Hard Spun; Dwyer winner Any Given Saturday; the unbeaten Cable Boy; Xchanger, who won the Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park last time out; and Imawildandcrazyguy.

The hard rain Sunday and the prospect to more on Monday had trainer John Forbes calling an audible on Cable Boy's final Haskell breeze. The work, originally set for Tuesday, was postponed until Wednesday.

"We planned along to give ourselves some wiggle room," Forbes said Monday morning. "The racetrack was very sloppy today."

The one-day delay will likely shorten the breeze. Forbes originally planned a five-furlong drill for Tuesday. That will probably become a half-mile on Wednesday with regular rider Jose Velez Jr. aboard.

Any Given Saturday got in his final Haskell work Sunday at Belmont Park, four furlongs in 49.22. That followed a bullet drill of five furlongs in 59.90 on July 23.

"I don't think the horse needed as much," trainer Todd Pletcher said of the latest, less-demanding workout. "The horse ran extremely well in the Dwyer off a layoff."

The Dwyer came a month after Any Given Saturday's eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

"With the workout under his belt on the 23rd, that was all we felt we needed leading up to this," Pletcher said. 'We're very pleased with everything he's done since the Dwyer."

Any Given Saturday will join Pletcher's Monmouth division on Tuesday, with paddock-schooling sessions set for Wednesday and Thursday.

Xchanger also got in his final Haskell work on Sunday at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland. Trainer and co-owner Mark Shuman caught him in 1:02 for five furlongs.

"He breezed great and galloped out strong," said Shuman. "It was a great workout, and everything is on schedule for the Haskell."

Xchanger was unbeaten in two starts at Monmouth last year, including the Grade 3 Sapling Stakes.

Ismus has top recent figures

The $50,000 second-level allowance feature for New Jersey breds at 1 1/16 miles Wednesday has a familiar feel, as six of the nine runners exit a similar race here July 14.

This could be the right spot for Ismus, second in his last two after setting the pace. His Beyer Speed Figures from his last two races, 84 and 71, are the strongest recent Beyers in the field, and his running style is conducive to success at Monmouth.

Luis Rivera Jr. has the return call for trainer Joe Zoppi.

Evening Pals has turned his game around this meet for trainer Jim Ryerson. He ran for a $5,000 claiming price here three starts back, a drop-down that triggered two wins and a late-running third most recently. Jose Lezcano, aboard for both victories, returns after a one-race absence.

Ok This Way, a commanding first-level winner two starts back, broke slowly on the hike to this level and finished sixth at 2-1. Chuckie Lopez will ride again for trainer Patricia Farro.