Updated on 09/15/2011 12:45PM

More than an outside shot

Bill Denver / Equi-photo
Haskell favorite Point Given

OCEANPORT, N.J. - If there is any omen that Point Given will display his finest to the expected crowd of 50,000 here Sunday in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Haskell Invitational, look no further than the race draw.

Point Given, for the fourth straight race that included starts in each leg of the Triple Crown, drew the outside post in the field of six for Monmouth's premier event. The country's top 3-year-old, Point Given comes into the 1 1/8-mile race with the pressure of retaining his top billing before possibly the biggest crowd in Monmouth Park history. The current record of 43,591 was set in 1962.

Point Given, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, has not raced since winning the Belmont June 9, but the large chestnut colt will surely be on top of his game come Sunday.

The Haskell is carded as the 11th race and probable post time is set for 5:42 p.m.

"Physically, he is still the Big Red Train," said trainer Bob Baffert. "Mentally, he has mellowed out a little bit. He seems to be a very happy horse."

The Haskell, whose purse was bolstered by a $500,000 supplement to lure Point Given, should include a lively pace that Point Given will benefit from sitting behind. Touch Tone, Hero's Tribute, and Burning Roma should all be close to the pace, and Gary Stevens is sure to guide Point Given wide, preparing to pounce on the front-runners near the final turn. According to Stevens, who has been aboard since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year, he will let his mount tell him where he wants to run.

"We couldn't have picked a better post," said Stevens. "I will ride him with a lot of confidence. I'll be very patient and let him run his race."

Point Given, owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, has finished first or second in all but one career start - the Kentucky Derby. That day, he may have been too close to a rapid pace, and finished fifth. If blowout victories in the Preakness and Belmont have not erased that memory, a win in the Haskell surely will. If Point Given is at his best, the rest of the field will be running for second.

"If you see him dragging Gary along at the three-eighths pole, it's all over," said Baffert.

In the Haskell, Point Given will be equipped with a bar shoe for the first time. Baffert stated that it is a rather small bar shoe that will protect an abscess that the colt popped a few weeks ago.

The Haskell is Burning Roma's race to prove he belongs in the top tier of the division. He sat out the Triple Crown trail this year, instead dominating lesser competition in ungraded stakes, winning five out of six starts. Trained by Tony Dutrow, he captured the Haskell prep, the Long Branch, here three weeks ago versus his toughest competition this year. Two starts back, he recorded a Beyer Speed Figure of 114 in the Leonard Richards, equaling Point Given's career-best speed figure in the Belmont Stakes.

John Ward campaigned Monarchos to his upset victory over Point Given in the Kentucky Derby. Ward sends out his stablemate Hero's Tribute to pull off another upset in the Haskell. Hero's Tribute, since the addition of blinkers, has won the Grade 2 Peter Pan and finished third in the Grade 2 Dwyer, his most recent start.

The mystery horse in the field is the Ronny Werner-trained Touch Tone. Touch Tone is lightly raced, having only four career starts, but in that time, he has displayed a tremendous amount of talent. The Haskell will be his biggest race to date, but he is coming off a career-best victory in the Iowa Derby, his first start around two turns. Two horses who should benefit from the expected quick pace are Jamaican Rum, third in the Swaps behind Congaree, and This Fleet Is Due, second in the Long Branch in his first stakes appearance.

for Haskell Past Performances.