Updated on 09/15/2011 12:45PM

Point Given captures Haskell

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Michael J. Marten
Point Given wins Sunday's Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - A track record crowd of 47,127 witnessed one of the most exciting runnings of the Haskell in history, as Point Given overcame Touch Tone and Burning Roma to win the Grade 1 $1.5 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

Point Given, sent off as the .30-1 favorite, came under the whip turning for home, but in the stretch, he moved three-wide with Burning Roma to the inside and Touch Tone on the rail. Point Given lugged in slightly under right-hand whipping, but took the lead near the shadow of the wire with sheer will. Point Given finished one-half length ahead of Touch Tone, who won a head bob with Burning Roma for the place spot. Point Given, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, covered the 1 1/8 mile distance in 1:49.77.

After Burning Roma, the order of finish was This Fleet Is Due, Jamaican Rum and Hero's Tribute.

"I had to rush him to get here," said Bob Baffert, who trains Point Given for the Thoroughbred Corporation. "I wanted to come to the Haskell if we could make it. The $1.5 million purse was attractive. We missed a work, and I thought we might not make it, but we kept training him. He was not as tight and ready today as I would have liked. It was a very gutsy performance by a great horse."

Point Given, who wore a bar shoe for the first time, was reluctant to load into the gate at the start. After the break, Point Given, who broke from the outside post, broke into the fifth spot, while Hero's Tribute and Touch Tone went for the lead. Hero's Tribute, breaking from the first post under Jorge Chavez, went to the lead, but was soon overtaken by Touch Tone around the clubhouse turn. Touch Tone, with Robby Albarado aboard, went through fractions of 22.63, 46.84 and 1:11.29 on the lead, as Hero's Tribute raced nearly two lengths off the leader.

Midway down the backstretch, Gary Stevens moved Point Given three-wide right up to the two frontrunners. Burning Roma stayed within one-half length of Point Given, as This Fleet is Due and Jamaican Rum sat at the back of the pack.

Turning for home, Point Given, who seemed primed to run away with the race, came under the whip while Touch Tone began to get away from the rest of the field. Burning Roma moved three-wide inside of Point Given, and Hero's Tribute dropped back around the turn. When Point Given put in his rally on the outside, he outlasted Touch Tone, who hung on gamely on the inside, and Burning Roma who was right there for second.

Baffert first stated that he believed Stevens may have moved Point Given too soon down the backstretch, but after watching the replay, he stated that the jockey rode the race correctly.

"After watching the replay, I felt a lot better about the way Gary rode," he said. "He did the right thing, and had to move when he did."

"At the 1/8 pole, I wasn't sure we had it," said Stevens. "It was a real tough, hard fought race, and you never know what's going to happen, regardless of what the tote board says."

Point Given paid $2.60 to win and capped a $14 exacta. He improved to 8-3-0 in 12 career starts. Touch Tone, trained by Ronny Werner, was making only his fifth career start, and second around two turns. He was sent off as the longest shot on the board at 13-1.

"What a race he ran," said Albarado. "He's a talented horse, and Ronny decided to take a shot. It all worked out well. I'm very pleased with his race."

Burning Roma, trained by Tony Dutrow, was making his biggest start of the year, and was right there in the stretch, losing the second-place head bob.

"I was very happy with the effort he gave," said Dutrow. "We had a perfect trip. We just lost."

Jamaican Rum, who finished fifth, was pulled up after the wire. Attending physician Dr. Scott Palmer stated that the horse had lameness in the left foreleg, but the injury should not be life threatening.

Undercard recap

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Sea of Tranquility entered the Grade 3 $150,000 Salvator Mile for 3-year-olds and up on a two-race winning streak versus Jersey-breds.

In the Salvator, he stepped up versus open company and captured his first graded stakes, closing from off the pace three-wide to storm home by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:36.74. Knock Again came late to get up for second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of pacesetter Hal's Hope, who held on strongly for third.

Sea of Tranquility, trained by Richard Paulus and owned by Triple M Farm, has excelled at Monmouth this meet, winning two state-bred stakes in preparation for the Salvator. Sea of Tranquility, who was ridden by Jose Ferrer, improved to 14-4-4 in 38 career starts. He paid $13.20 and topped a $71.40 exacta with Knock Again.

"Even though it was hot, I wore this jacket today because I thought we might get our picture taken," said Paulus. "He blew out the other day for this and I knew he was doing great."

Completing the field was Thistyranthasclass, 5-2 favorite Rize, Mercaldo and Rock and Roll.

* Key Lory, in his turf debut, went wire-to-wire to win the Grade 3 $100,000 Oceanport Handicap at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds and up by a half-length over even-money favorite North East Bound. Crash Course was third.

Key Lory ($29.20), trained by Dennis Manning, was coupled in the betting with Ready to Roll. Chuck Lopez rode the winner, who made his 17 previous starts on the dirt.

* Cousin Gigi, the longest shot on the board at 25-1, sat second off a pace set by Crystal Sea, and ran two-wide by the pacesetter to capture the $100,000 Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap for fillies and mares on the turf.

Cousin Gigi, trained by Tim Hills, was making her first stakes appearance after winning in an allowance race here three weeks ago. Cousin Gigi, who was ridden by Rick Wilson, improved her turf record to 5-3-2 in fifteen starts, including four out of five wins on the Monmouth grass.

Cousin Gigi ($52) covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.50, and finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Quidnaskra. Crystal Sea was one length back, holding on for third. Lucky Lune, the 8-5 favorite, never fired and finished sixth in the eight-horse field.

* Spruce Run loves the Monmouth turf.

Spruce Run ($10.40), trained by Linda Rice, won his second turf stakes of the meet, taking the $75,000 Restoration Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf. He had won the Spend A Buck Stakes earlier this meet and finished second in the Lamplighter Handicap in his last start.

Jose Ferrer, who won two stakes on the day, guided Spruce Run right near the pace, and came down the stretch two-wide, holding off One Eyed Joker by a half-length on the outside. Punkin Head finished third. Spruce Run covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.67.

* Miss Linda ($12.40) seized the lead midway through the backstretch from Steppedoutofadream, and only lengthened her margin of victory down the stretch to win the $75,000 Lady's Secret Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards by 7 1/4 lengths in 1:41.15. Steppedoutofadream was second and Gold For My Gal third.

* Normandy Beach, trained and owned by Eddie Broome, broke last in the $75,000 Teddy Drone Stakes, but raced to the front down the backstretch and edged away for a one-length win in the first stakes of the Haskell undercard. Ridden by Robert Colton, Normandy Beach ($24.80) covered the six furlongs in 1:10.19. Night Caller came late for second, and Loaded Gun was third.