07/06/2016 11:36AM

Nyquist, Exaggerator among invitees to Haskell

Barbara D. Livingston
Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is among the 20 initial invitees to the Haskell.

The first round of invitations to the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational have been mailed out, according to Bob Kulina, the president of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth Park on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

Kulina said he sent out 30 invitations. They went to virtually everyone he would want in the race, even Songbird, whose connections are not expected to accept.

“You make sure to invite everyone,” he said.

Kulina said that because the 3-year-old division is wide open this year, he expects a good-sized and competitive field.

“We have a really deep group of 3-year-olds this year,” Kulina said. “There is no clear-cut leader in the division, and there are only two Grade 1s left for 3-year-olds, the Haskell and the Travers. Guys thinking about winning the Eclipse Award have to look at our race.”

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist tops Kulina’s wish list. On Monday, Nyquist had his third workout since returning to California following his third-place finish in the Preakness. Trainer Doug O’Neill and owner Paul Reddam are considering three races for Nyquist’s next start, the Grade 2 San Diego at Del Mar on July 23, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 30, or the Grade 1 Haskell on July 31.

“I’m optimistic he will come,” Kulina said. “I’ve talked to O’Neill and feel good about it. He’s under consideration.”

Kulina said the racing manager for Big Chief Racing, which owns Preakness winner Exaggerator and Swipe, has contacted him regarding the Haskell. Exaggerator is in training but has not worked since his 11th-place finish in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Considered likely for the Haskell are Gun Runner, who is trained by Steve Asmussen, and Brody’s Cause or Cherry Wine, both trained by Dale Romans.

Gunner Runner finished third in the Kentucky Derby and then won the Grade 3 Matt Winn at a mile June 18 by 5 1/4 lengths. He has worked twice since that Churchill Downs race.

Brody’s Cause won the Grade 1 Blue Grass, and Cherry Wine nipped Nyquist for second in the Preakness.

“Dale has always been a big supporter of our race,” Kulina said. “I also expect Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher will have a starter.”

Baffert has won the Haskell a record eight times, including last year with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. His current 3-year-olds include American Freedom, who won the Grade 3 Iowa Derby on Friday, the impressive allowance winner Arrogate, Lexington Stakes winner Collected, and Rebel Stakes winner Cupid.

ProXstream Gaming 9 months ago
The likes of Exxagerator, Creator, Suddenbreakingnews, and Mo Tom have NO chance on this surface.  Why they would even go there is beyond me.  The Jim Dandy doesn't have the purse, but a much fairer result is likely.   I predict 5 or 6 will go in the over hyped Haskell, and either Nyquist at 2/5, or some other close up foe will eke it out. 
Greg Hopper 9 months ago
Arrogate will win this race if Nyquist doesn't 
holmes_sam 9 months ago
Hi, why do you think Arrogate can beat the field minus Nyquist?
Frank 9 months ago
I will say as long as Mario is riding -- there is always a chance that Nyquist even at his best can be beat (i.e. Preakness).

When you have one of the best horses it only makes sense to use one of the best jockeys -- 
Jon Arena 9 months ago
He's 2-2 in the Kentucky derby, the hardest race to ride...! Get real...vos come no 1 talks about the ride Perez gave Uncle Lino in the Preakness ;now that was a terrible ride

Floyd Constantine 9 months ago
Excellent point on Mario Jon. He's a very good rider. He rode the preakness as instructed. But I wouldn't use Perez as an example. Some of the so call best riders are still winless in the derby.
Frank 9 months ago
who cares if Mario is 2-2 in derby -- watch both replays -- In both he was extremely lucky.  As he said with IHA -- it was like he had a bubble around him during the race.  Same with Nyquist -- he was just a passenger on a speed horse that broke great running on a speed favoring track.

Point is he never had to earn either them -- like going through traffic or coming from behind.  The Preakness showcased his bad judgement and in experience.
ItsmeEddieC 9 months ago
I love it when someone states something so idiotic.  Frank Mario has won more triple crown races than what you consider the top jockey's.  He IS one of the best, and no horse, including Nyquist would have beaten Exaggerator in the Preakness.
bluegrassdan1 9 months ago

holmes_sam 9 months ago
Gun Runners going to end up being the best out of this crop. If he wins I'll win.
Frank 9 months ago
Haskell is always a speed favoring race -- It should be Nyquist's for the taking....

The true race will be run in the Travers (like last year) -- It was one of the best races of the year.
gallopingtom 9 months ago
Yeah, ugh wha duh? Keen Ice hasn't exactly lit up racing since. Just sayin'.
Frank 9 months ago
this is all about betting -- Keen Ice lit up the tote board plus it was an exciting race where AP was finally put to the test from a very very weak crop of 3yrs olds which he ran against all year.  And also the BCC he ran in was a joke -- tailor made race for him to just run around the track for one last time.
ItsmeEddieC 9 months ago
You're now 2 for 2 with idiotic comments Frank. It wasn't one of the best races of the year and I know because I was there just like I am every year. Kieran McLaughlin played suicide with Frosted and tried to wear down American Pharoah.  He did but he came in 3rd.  The race set up perfectly for Keen Ice, who has 2 lifetime vistories.  Get real