07/30/2009 12:00AM

Rachel to face six in Haskell

Bill Denver/EquiPhotos
Belmont winner Summer Bird (above) will try to catch Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell. He is 7-2 on the line.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - There wasn't much tension surrounding the draw for Sunday's Grade 1, $1.25 million Haskell Invitational for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park.

With one sensational filly, Rachel Alexandra, and six colts entered for the 1 1/8-mile race, nobody would be compromised by their post.

"At Monmouth Park, going a mile and an eighth, if you're in the gate, you're going to have a fair race from any post position," said Joe Bravo, a 13-time leading rider here who has the mount on Atomic Rain. "There is plenty of running room. I don't think the post position is going to hurt any of the seven."

Rachel Alexandra drew post 6 and was installed the 4-5 morning-line favorite by Monmouth oddsmaker Brad Thomas.

"I think it's an excellent draw for us," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "In a seven-horse field, there shouldn't be a lot of traffic for anybody."

Rachel Alexandra is a perfect 6 for 6 this season, including a win over colts in the Preakness.

"She's very consistent," Asmussen said. "She's got a great attitude. She's a very special filly."

Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to depart Asmussen's barn at Saratoga on Friday morning for the trip to the Jersey Shore. She will paddock school that afternoon with the field for the sixth race.

Munnings, the 3-1 second choice, got post 4. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Munnings most recently beat older sprinters in the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap going seven furlongs at Belmont Park.

"I think that's perfect," Pletcher said of the draw. "We're in the middle. There will be no excuses from there."

Munnings could wind up the controlling speed.

"We've been lucky in the Haskell historically, with a couple of wins there," Pletcher said. "We felt this horse is doing so well right now he deserves a chance to run in a race like this."

Pletcher won the 2006 Haskell with Bluegrass Cat and repeated the following year with Any Given Saturday.

Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird, trained by Tim Ice, is the 7-2 third choice from post 2.

This marks the first time since 1987 that the Haskell features two winners of a Triple Crown race.

Atomic Rain was entered in the Haskell, but he has been hampered by a sore foot and may be scratched. The Long Branch Stakes winner, he drew post 5 as a 10-1 shot.

"We'll let him tell us how he's doing and make a decision then," said Rick Mettee, the New York-based assistant trainer to Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin Racing. "We hope he can be sound off a gallop Saturday and a gallop Sunday. We're a lot more optimistic than we were 24 hours ago."

Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem is 12-1 from post 3, while Iowa Derby winner Duke of Mischief is 15-1 from the rail.

Bunker Hill, adding blinkers, is 30-1 from post 7.

The Haskell headlines a 14-race card that includes eight stakes. First post Sunday is noon.

Turf stakes highlight undercard

The Oceanport and the Taylor Made Matchmaker are the top supporting events. Both are Grade 3 turf stakes worth $200,000.

Tizdejavu, winner of three consecutive graded stakes in the Midwest last summer, is one of the top contenders the 1 1/16-mile Oceanport.

Closeout, winner of the Grade 3 Locust Grove Handicap at Churchill Downs, makes her fifth straight appearance in a graded stakes in the Matchmaker for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.

The other five stakes are each worth $100,000.

Acting Zippy, winner of the Decathlon Stakes earlier in the meet, returns for the Majestic Light at 1o1/16 miles.

Laureate Conductor won the Choice Stakes here July 5 and will try to extend his winning streak to three in the Jersey Derby for 3-year-olds on the turf.

Distorted Passion, off since running third in the Grade 2 Bed O' Roses Handicap at Aqueduct in April, finds an easier spot in the Regret Stakes for fillies and mares going six furlongs.

Keep Laughing looks to rebound in the Teddy Drone at six furlongs. He finished a tiring eighth here in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on July 4.

Jasmine Gardens, dominant winner of consecutive allowance races here, steps up to the Lady's Secret for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

- additional reporting by David Grening